Migrant Memories Inspire Film Screening in Tirana

IOM staff and members of the public at the movie screening in Tirana last week

As New York prepares to host the International Migration Review Forum, activities are taking place around the world to promote discussion around the theme of migration.

One such event was the screening of a new movie by "Amygdaliá” by Greek filmmaker Cristina Phoebe Thomopulos, by IOM Albania last week.

Amygdaliá is a tree that blooms in the beginning of spring. It can symbolize a fresh start, but is also a word that haunts one of the film narrators as a little girl arriving in Greece.

In the film people, places and things come together and part ways as if in a dream. The natural world becomes a place of refuge and companionship for a group of women who try to reassert their identities and invent a new language out of landscapes and gestures, in contemporary Greece.

Thomopulos, based in Greece and educated in New York, built on her personal experience as a foreigner in Greece to share fragmented memories of what it means to be a foreigner in a land that often resembles a Mediterranean postcard.

The script is based on the real-life experiences of eight migrants in Greece, coming from different parts of the world, developed and underdeveloped.

The screening was also used as an opportunity to share information about IOM’s “Albania is YOU!” campaign which aims to inform young people on the risks of irregular migration.

During the post-film discussion, the audience mentioned their favourite parts and quotes. One of the more memorable quotes was “a foreigner has a lot to face. Like running a race but with more hurdles than anyone else.”

Gerta Dyle, an Albanian who migrated to Greece at the age of seven joined the screening to share with the audience some of the details of the realization of the film, and how the idea took shape.

She also shared some experiences and stereotypes faced by children, as reflected in the film. “When I was a child, when we came back from vacations, the teacher would ask us where we had been” she said. “Most would say in this or that Greek island, some would say France or Spain, and I said Albania. Classmates would turn and look at me with pity”.   

Genci Pjetri, Programme Coordinator at IOM Albania presented the organization’s activities, highlighting the importance of well governed migration for the whole of society. “Albania is a country with almost one third of the population abroad, and in this way migration touches us all,” he stressed.

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