Sea Sorrow

“Sit still, and hear the last of our sea-sorrow”. (Prospero to Miranda in The Tempest, William Shakespeare)

Vanessa Redgrave’s documentary on refugees struck an emotional chord with the audience at Athens Concert Hall. Shown as part of the Athens Film Festival, ‘Sea Sorrow’ focuses on the mass migrations of people following traumatic historical events and tries to make the viewer aware that, beyond race, religion or politics, we are all human and deserve to have our dignity and rights preserved.

For the last few years, Greece has struggled to cope with a massive influx of refugees from middle eastern war torn countries. Almost without exception, Greeks have been tremendously welcoming to the Syrians, Kurds, Afghans and Iraqis seeking a better life in Europe for themselves and their families. Perhaps the Greek’s ‘filoxenia‘ and generosity is made more touching because this country has been going through eight years of the kind of recession unseen since the Great Depression of 1929 and many people are really struggling to survive.

Often, people tag “activist” after Vanessa Redgrave’s name. I think that she would prefer the term “humanitarian” and this comes through strongly in the documentary. It is obvious that she cares very deeply about her subject in this, her directorial debut. To my mind, the film could have been edited a little more as it seemed a bit belaboured and long winded in parts but the honesty of its intention makes it valid and totally worthwhile viewing.

After the screening, Redgrave was joined for an open discussion on the film’s themes by her son and film producer Carlo Nero, Greek actress Mimi Denissi, the absolutely wonderful Lord Alfred Dubs (member of the House of Lords and stalwart campaigner for refugee rights and the care and safe passage of unaccompanied minors) and representatives from the charities Medecins sans Frontieres and Safe Passage.

Celebrities are great at getting a message out to the general public but from what I have seen, the refugee situation in Greece is extremely reliant on individuals who volunteer assistance, care and help. I am proud to say that my sister has been very involved in this kind of ‘grass roots’ action and has raised a considerable amount of money through the charity she created from her home in a remote village in southwestern France.

Like many of the volunteer organisations, hers does not just throw money at the problem, it looks at ways to improve lives by respecting the individual. Friendships are formed and help is provided where needed.

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