When a Greek factory goes bankrupt, the workers occupy it and attempt to run it on their own. Self-management proves no easy task; soon they discover that they first need to change themselves.
When we started filming, almost three years ago, the attempt of the Viome workers to take over their abandoned factory, neither us, nor them knew the extraordinary experience that lied ahead of us. What we ended up documenting was an intense adventure that brought mixed feelings of uncertainty and frustration with excitement and hope and provided us with a powerful story with many layers.
The case itself is extreme; workers with no work experience outside the production line, driven by despair, decide to start a small revolution, just for a chance to win back their lives. They want to establish an island of utopia in a capitalist environment and of course they meet a thousand obstacles and conflicts at every level.
They are going against the law, the judicial authorities and the factory’s ex-owners, while they fight to gain some kind of legal status. There are conflicts within the group as well; practicing direct democracy among people with different attitudes, convictions and ideas can be very hard. But what proves to be the hardest, is the inner conflicts each individual has to face as the times are calling for a deep personal transformation. These people in their fifties are forced to develop a new identity, one that will allow them to survive in dignity and withstand the sufferings of an «outrageous fortune». The giant shifts they have to perform can sometimes seem comic and tragic at the same time.
As a filmmaker I felt the need to present, as deeply and as respectfully as I could, characters with opposing point of views. In a way they all represent pieces of a collective social mosaic that is not indicative only of the Greek case, but reflects most European societies today. Ultimately this is a bittersweet tale of real people whose lives cross with history. I am deeply grateful to all of them for honouring me with their trust and letting me tell their story as an adventure of our times.
“We the workers, have decided to take over the factory in order to survive”
Makis Anagnostou: “We want absolute freedom, freedom to create. Participating in this process, feels like being in love. Those who don’t participate don’t know what they’re missing. They say we’re delusional -well fine! We like deluding ourselves. We want to build our own utopia, what’s it to you?”
Pascalis Theodorakakis:” I started working straight after school. Construction paid the best wages back then. I was a poor lad alright, but my motorbike was awesome!…
I used to make a lot of money, 300-500 euros a day… It’s very tough these days. You don’t really get it if you haven’t been through it. In fact, I’m not that different to a prisoner.. I abstain from everything, there are no jobs, and in the midst of this desperate situation we’re trying to get something going at Viome.”
Christina Philippou: “…If this was a different country, they’d be in jail! The state would go after them, not me! Their petty activities are obviously illegal! …”
“…Why should I go to jail? I haven’t done anything wrong. I haven’t stolen anything, I haven’t embezzled any funds. I keep giving to society, I still do charity work. I’m a good person, why should I go to jail?”