Keimena #31: ​Passing Drama
by Angela Melitopoulos

Monday July 17, 2017, 24:00 on ERT2
Passing Drama, 1999, Germany, 66 min.
Director: Angela Melitopoulos

Passing Drama by Angela Melitopoulos revolves around the great population displacement that followed the breakdown of the Ottoman Empire.

The title plays with the double meaning of the word “Drama.” Implying tragedy and turmoil, Drama is also the name of the town where Melitopoulos’s grandparents settled after the Lausanne convention in 1923. That peace treaty formalized the mass expulsion of the Greek minority from Asia Minor.

A video essay rather than a conventional documentary, Passing Drama juxtaposes the traumatic testimonies of deportees with images of yarn being processed in a mechanical loom, the rotating drums of a printing press, or the belt of a bread oven. The machinery is an emblem for progress, a vortex feeding on human lives. Every industrial product contains a world undone: the economic prosperity of the metropolitan centers is predicated on the exploitation of vulnerable, peripheral bodies.

One of the interviewees is the artist’s father, who fled the Bulgarian occupation of Greece only to be caught without papers and sent to an Austrian labor camp. He does not wish to recount all that happened there. As the witnesses struggle to talk of mass slaughter and forced labor, the film’s images waste away into white noise or slip into abstraction. Staging a back-and-forth between memory and forgetfulness, Passing Drama stands at the crossroads between cinema as a site of memory and film as a physical medium. The materiality of that coiled strip, in the end, overwrites all narratives.

—Ana Teixeira Pinto, writer, cultural theorist and lecturer

Posted in Public TV on 07.17.2017