BEHIND THE HAYSTACKS / Greece
Asimina Proedrou studied music (piano degree in 2001), Economics & Finance (BA in 2005 and MSc in 2007) and Film Directing (BA in 2013). She is the producer, screenwriter and director of the short film Red Hulk (2013), which was officially selected for more than sixty international film festivals, including Clermont-Ferrand IFF 2014, and has won nine international awards.She is currently working on her MA in Film Directing at Raindance (Staffordshire University) and the post-production of her debut feature Behind The Haystacks. The project has already participated in the Sarajevo Script Station 2015 and the Berlinale Script Station 2016.
Stergios is a Greek fisherman and farmer living on the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. He is afraid of going to jail for a fraud he had committed some time ago and starts to traffic migrants across the border to repay the money he took. But soon he finds himself trapped by the mafia and his family starts falling apart.
Prologue: Dojran Lake, Greece-FYROM border. Three children are playing by the lake, while music from the traditional Greek village festival is heard in the distance. They children notice the corpses of two migrants washed up at the shore. The children, shocked, rush to inform the grownups who are celebrating at the festival. The music stops, some appear concerned, but after a few minutes, the feast continues, the villagers seemingly indifferent about the news that the children had brought.
Even when the story was just an idea, it was clear to me that the theme of the film would be somehow related to the mechanisms which corrupt decent people. This is a phenomenon that has always troubled me, as it also exists in the Greek social and political environment, and has affected me personally.
I chose to set the story at the Dojran Lake because I was mesmerised by the lake’s wild beauty. I was also intrigued by the fact that two completely different worlds exist on the two sides. When I began conducting research for the film, during my first visit to the area, the hotel I stayed at (located right next to the lake and the border station) housed approximately fifty Syrian and Iraqi refugees who had several times attempted to cross the border into FYROM (their final destination was Northern Europe). My numerous visits to the poor villages of the region made me realize that many locals take advantage of the refugees. The ways are various, but the goal is one: to make money off of them, something which is somehow tolerated by the local community.
Behind the Haystacks IS NOT a film about the refugee crisis. It is a film about how an entire society can corrode, be led to crime, to whitewash to submission and collective denial.
At the same time, Behind the Haystacks IS a film about the refugee crisis. It is about the hypocrisy of our ‘civilised’ Western societies that on the one hand shed crocodile tears about the dead children in the Aegean Sea, but on the other hand become accomplices in the exploitation, impoverishment, displacement and even death of thousands of people.
Lastly, Behind the Haystacks is an exploration about where our modern societies are being led to and why. An exploration, which has, however, no intention of condemning the Man who – defeated – submits to corrupt social structures; on the contrary, it attempts to uncover whatever human and beautiful emerges from his everyday struggle to survive, and his need to improve his life and the world around him.
Funding: ERT SA, Atalante Productions, With the financial support of the Greek Film Centre. With the financial support of: EKOME, ZDF/Arte, Eurimages, North Macedonia Film Agency, MEDIA Creative Europe, SEE Cinema Network, DI.VI.PE.K. SA
Cast: Stathis Stamoulakatos, Lena Ouzounidou, Evgenia Lavda, Christos Kontogiorgis, Paschalis Tsarouchas, Dina Michailidou