Dhiava: The Autumn Journey
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by David Hope
color, 50 min, 1999
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The film takes place in the Pindos Mountains in North Western Greece. We meet two brothers, Tsiogas and Steryios Anthoulis with their flocks of sheep on the mountains, then the third brother Vassilis in the village of Samarina. It is the time of the festival of 15th of August and the village is packed with returning families and relations celebrating their culture and roots. They are all Vlachs, who speak a language closely related to Romanian. We return in October for the Dhiava, the autumn journey.
Tim Salmon, who also narrates the film, travels with the Anthoulis brothers on foot as they bring their flocks of sheep down from the Pindos Mountains to the plains of Thessaly, a journey of a 150 kilometers which takes about 10 days. The shepherds are helped by hired men; mostly illegal Albanian immigrants like Leonidas, whose story we hear at the campfire. We also meet Thodorakis, a Greek born Vlach shepherd who spent 40 years trapped in Albania by the former communist regime.
Tsiogas and Vassilis tell through interview the history of the Dhiava and its significance for them today, in a Greece that is changing rapidly. The journey is the last remaining part of the tradition of transhumance that used to be commonplace all over Europe. A large group of illegal Albanian immigrants turn up and Tsiogas holds them up at gunpoint to search them. There have been many thefts recently and the immigrants are always suspected. The traditional route takes the flocks cross country, over mountain ranges and through remnants of the great oak forests that used to cover this region. Wolves are still common here and a constant problem for the shepherds. The route continues along a dangerous stretch of main highway and with two thousand sheep, thirty cows, goats and packhorses to protect, the shepherds have a busy time. It is in this scene that we feel the crush of time and the pressure to change established traditions for more modern ones. Most shepherds now ship their flocks by truck rather than taking them on the arduous journey down from the mountains.
Tsiogas and Vassilis tell us why it is still worth doing the Dhiava on foot. We can understand his position after having experienced the journey through the vehicle of film.
The film was produced by the makers of several programs featured in the BBC's anthropological series "Under the Sun". It is observational and participatory, a valuable tool for teaching anthropology, cultural change and for understanding the relationship between the Greek Vlachs, Romania and the Albanians before the recent collapse of Yugoslavia and the conflict in Kosovo.
Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
ET1, Greek State Television, 2000
SF-DRS, Swiss Television, 2000
Gottingen International Film and Video Festival, Germany, 2000
RAI, International Film and Video Festival, London, 2000
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The Shepherd's Family