ABOUT THE FILM
The Journey: The Greek American Dream (documentary, 87 mins., high definition 16/9)
While conducting research on a feature film “A Friendship in Smyrna,” filmmaker Maria Iliou discovered a wealth of previously unseen archival photographic and film footage from over fifty public and private collections which tell the fascinating history of Greek immigrants to the United States. Along with historian Alexander Kitroeff and several scholars and guests, she brings these stories and photographs to life in order to explore and document a very special story from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
The film narrates the Greek immigration to America from 1890 to 1980. Interviews with prominent Greek Americans including Senator Paul Sarbanes, writers George Pelecanos and Elias Kulkundis, poet Olga Broumas, film critic/historian Dan Georgakas, Ellis Island Archivist George Tselos, Hellenic Studies professors Martha Klironomos and Artemis Leontis, researcher Gus Chatzidimitriou, Father Bob Stephanopoulos, and historian Alexander Kitroeff complement the photographic and filmic archival footage.
A Statement by the Director, Maria Iliou
It was chance, or rather inevitable chance, and the magic of a stolen glimpse of day-to-day life viewed through old, forgotten photographs and films that led me to prepare this documentary.
A sudden opportunity in the form of a Fulbright Award brought me to New York three years ago and a chain of coincidences led me to various archives in various cities around America where I encountered many images of the Greek immigration of America, forgotten, locked away in cupboards.
The materials were so stunning that I could find no peace. It was a combination of personal history, my father who had sold tobacco in America in the 1950’s, glances full of melancholy and hope which stared out at me from the photographs, coupled with the certainty that the collective memory is something vitally important which one should not let slip away, that cast me into an adventurous round of research and travel from one US city to another.
Along the way I met historian Alexander Kitroeff who studied the materials and became a valuable consultant; and I also encountered collaborators and sponsors from both sides of the Atlantic who warmly supported this adventure.
Alexander and I narrate the story of Greek migration to America using unknown archival material from US archives, dividing the story into three sections: I. Immigrants 1890–1920, II. Becoming Americans 1920–1960 and III. The Revival of Ethnicity 1960–1980.
While the documentary gradually began to take shape, the materials themselves, the very story we had narrated, brought to us a new idea which had always been inside us, but which now took form. These forgotten photographs and films gave back to us our collective memory and simultaneously allowed us to view the present and future from a different perspective. The ‘memory regained’ from such an experience reminds us that accepting diversity and ‘otherness’ can be valuable for a society that knows how to evolve.
I feel the need to wholeheartedly thank the sponsors, collaborators, and friends who made it possible to collect the materials and to realize the documentary.
For more information about the history of Greek immigration to the US, click here.