VICTORIA TIMES TWO is the tale of the traditional feast of St. Paraskevi. This was held on the 26th of July, in a small village called Gouveri in Ottoman times and Farangi in today’s Greek. The village lies in the northwest of Greece in the mountains of Epirus.

The village’s inhabitants were deported to camps in the nearby city of Ioannina in the late 1940s during and as a result of the Greek Civil War, and afterwards the village was abandoned. This was the case with many villages on the northern borders with Albania but also other areas in Greece. Most Gouverians’ children and grandchildren come back to their ancestral homes each summer, from different corners of the country, and from the countries they migrated to overseas, to celebrate the feast of St. Paraskevi, the saint who protects vision. These children and grandchildren are two or three generations removed from those who left the village in the 1940s; there is almost no one left from the original inhabitants of the village.

The film explores how a group of people form a community for just one day. They come together in what is today a no man’s land, in the middle of a forest, to honour their saint and their land. With the exception of the feast itself, and their feelings of longing, their ‘nostos’ for the places they have lost, it is not personal memories that connect them to that place.

VICTORIA TIMES TWO follows the different stages of the feast, and the memories of one of the last survivors and inhabitants of Gouveri. Her name is Victoria, a 92-years-old lady who was married in the village before she emigrated to the United States, more than 60 years ago. From her couch in Astoria, Queens, she narrates her trauma of uprootedness, and what she remembers, or barely remembers, of her village.

Back in that summer of 2003, a sudden torrential rain, at an early stage of the feast, seemed for a while to frustrate the ceremony. Then a small number of people regrouped, and, after the rain had stopped, danced as if part of a Dionysian procession, following their musicians up to their old cemetery. Here stories of their past emerged in songs of mourning, and in laments of old Epirus. No longer part of the annual ceremony, this moment blended the life story of this lost community with its afterlife. It marked a topography of displacement and exile… For one midsummer day, ‘nostos’ visited their feast, took them by the hand and danced them up to the gates of their ancestors’ places of rest.

This short movie is composed mainly from archive texts & photographs, old video material shot in different periods since 2003 & material that I intend to shoot in 2021. I’m trying to make sense of all these threads, and to build a tale in the form of an essay documentary.

I’ve been working in the field of filmmaking and fine art photography for more than 20 years, but my aspiration is still to visual poetry. I always put my craftsmanship at the service of this unattainable goal, since I don’t write lucidly in any of the five languages I speak! I have lived in Lebanon, Cyprus, Greece, France, Egypt and Sicily. My work, since its inception, has been idiosyncratic, experiential, shaped around the notion of sedimentation, both in the physical and metaphysical sense. By sedimentation I refer to the layers of time during which live materials and ideas sink to the depths of the Mediterranean. These materials are archives, recordings, reconstructions, gestures, peripatetic experiences and a sense of listening/hearing. These sediments invite the viewer to a poetic meandering through a creative comparison of reality, languages, and narratives. All of my work is produced over long periods of time. I wait for sedimentation to occur.

The idea of creative comparison came from the years from 2005-2017 that I spent in Sicily. Creative comparison of reality is, as I understand it, a long process of dialectic creativity that accompanies and informs my work through different stages. From the first moment of shooting until the final edit, it’s a continuous flow of layering and shaping. However, what is visible to the viewer and emerges, is only what is visible on the surface, the last layer. A final form of an edit is just the end of a process (Leon Golub, the American painter, uses a similar process). Most of my films like Maesmak are the result of several years of sedimentation. In VICTORIA TIMES TWO this process has now lasted fifteen years. What is initially subjective, becomes distant and timeless on the way. 

Oblivion is fundamental to this process. Why do I take one picture or shoot this particular footage? Editing and storytelling become meticulous readings of the strata of my experiences. Slowly, steadily I start comparing this and other material, and they start eliding into a narrative of their own, a narrative that I hope goes beyond any first thought or intuition.

I rarely begin any project with a preconceived idea. I’d say that the gesture and the need to search are at the centre of my attempts to create a story. Stories form, like the collected notes of a candid botanist. And, in a strange way, these stories punctuate the melancholic geography of my wanderings. With VICTORIA TIMES TWO my search started in those mountains of Epirus and spread out as far as Astoria, New York.

My narrations explore the elemental process by which people construct meaning from experience and practice. All my projects are intuitive responses to emotionally resonant ideas. They look more like a letter to a friend, words said or left unsaid, all floating down the stream of oblivion. Oblivion leaves sediments too, on the surface of cities and in the depths of the sea. These may in time even become memory.


Σε υψόμετρο 635 μέτρα από την επιφάνεια της θάλασσας, στην περιοχή του Πωγωνίου, ένα ξωκλήσι βρίσκεται κρυμμένο μέσα στη φύση. Είναι τέλη Ιουλίου, ανήμερα της Αγίας Παρασκευής. Εκείνη τη μέρα, στην άκρη του πουθενά, ένα τυπικό τελετουργικό κοπής του άρτου λαμβάνει χώρα. Την εικόνα συμπληρώνουν τραπέζια στρωμένα κάτω από τον ίσκιο γηρασμένων βελανιδιών, ένα κλαρίνο και άλλα μουσικά όργανα, κόσμος συγκεντρωμένος και άφθονο φαγητό να σιγοβράζει στα καζάνια. Ψηλά από όλα αυτά, ερήμην της γραφικότητας, οι ουρανοί συσπειρώνουν τις δυνάμεις τους. Κοπάδια από μαύρα σύννεφα συγκεντρώνονται πάνω από το ξωκλήσι και υφαίνουν το σχέδιο που θα ανατρέψει τα σχέδια των ανθρώπων. Και όταν οι άνθρωποι ξεκινήσουν το φαγητό και το χορό και οι μηχανορραφίες των αιθέρων ολοκληρωθούν, με μια βροντή, οι ουρανοί ανοίγουν και μια βίαιη καλοκαιρινή μπόρα σαρώνει τα πάντα. Τραπέζια, φαγιά, ρούχα, βιολιά δέχονται συντονισμένη την επίθεση του νερού. Η σύνθεση διαλύεται, τα περιγράμματα σβήνουν, τα περιβλήματα πραγμάτων και ανθρώπων λιώνουν. Ωστόσο, αυτό που μοιάζει για τέλος της ιστορίας, είναι μόνο η αρχή.

Με μουσκεμένα τα καλά τους ρούχα, οι άνθρωποι τώρα ψάχνουν καταφύγιο από τη βροχή και παρηγοριά από την κατάρρευση όλων εκείνων των προσδοκιών που τους οδήγησαν αυτή την προκαθορισμένη μέρα σε αυτό τον τόπο, διανύοντας πολλά χιλιόμετρα, σε ένα ταξίδι που επαναλαμβάνεται ανελλιπώς μια και μοναδική φορά κάθε χρόνο. Οδηγημένοι από αισθήματα που ζητούσαν επιτακτικά να εκφραστούν και να ξεσπάσουν σαν μια ανθρώπινη μπόρα, με μια αμοιβαία -ανεπαίσθητη για εμένα, το νέο επισκέπτη- συνεννόηση, ενώνονται σε μια σφιχτή 'αγκαλιά' και εκκινούν για μια άλλη, σκοτεινή γιορτή. Το τσίπουρο τροφοδοτεί μια πομπή μέθης, που περνά μπροστά από κάθε γκρεμισμένο τοίχο, για να καταλήξει στο παλιό νεκροταφείο του χωριού. Και εκεί, στον τόπο όπου η άγρια φύση έχει καταπιεί τους τάφους των προγόνων και μόνο ένα βαθύ πηγάδι γεμάτο κόκαλα αποθησαυρίζει το παρελθόν, ο χορός παίρνει μια μυσταγωγική μορφή. Και αυτό που μοιάζει πάλι με τέλος αυτής της ιστορίας, δεν είναι παρά μόνο η μέση της και μια δεύτερη αρχή.

Μια αρχή για τα επόμενα ταξίδια μου σε αυτό τον τόπο, στα ενδόμυχα μυστικά καλέσματα που οδηγούν εκεί τους ανθρώπους, για ένα ταξίδι από την Ήπειρο ως την Αστόρια της Αμερικής, για ένα βύθισμα στους μηχανισμούς της νοσταλγίας, στη φυσιολογία της μνήμης. Ένα ταξίδι στο βάθος του παρελθοντικού και παροντικού χρόνου, που θα μου μάθει γιατί όλοι αυτοί οι άνθρωποι που ποτέ δεν έζησαν σε αυτό το χωριό επιμένουν να υποφέρουν από νόστο, για τις ξερές, εδώ και δεκαετίες, ρίζες τους σε αυτή τη γη.