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“You came, I was crazy for you…and you cooled my mind that burned with longing”
Sappho, 7th century B.C.
Eressos, on the Greek island of Lesbos, is the birthplace of Sappho – the first recorded female poet to write about love between women.
From the end of the 70’s, lesbian women from all over the world start coming to this small coastal village.
LESVIA recounts 40 years of stories, memories, love affairs, conflict and coexistence with the Eressos locals.
It is August of 1980. I take the first bus with available seats and after a four-hour journey on narrow country roads, I arrive in Eressos, a small village on the island of Lesvos, in Greece. The first thing I see before I is the endless beach stretching out and the dazzling blue Aegean sea. Then I notice two big eyes looking at me, short-cropped hair, a woman’s head. An electrical current runs through me, I have an epiphany, I know that the two women across from me are not just friends. Most importantly, I also feel that I would like to be– in fact, I am like them.
In the middle of the 1980s, more women from all over the world started to gather in the summers in Eressos, feeling that they have an entitlement to the place and to acceptance. Our school was on the beach. We lived here; we learned about our bodies here; we learned how women from other places in the world looked like, how they lived, how they made love, how they claimed the right to their sexuality. This was a place where, at long last, we could be free together with other lesbians without having to hide or pretend. Moreover, this wasn’t any place, it was the birthplace of Sappho, the poet who spoke about the love and beauty of women.
We claimed Eressos as the space of our own free sexual expression, without being that concerned about how those who were born and raised here in this place felt and thought. That is how the first fights with the locals started. Ours was a presence that questioned every one of the village’s core values and certainties. Anywhere else we would not have been able to remain in place for that long.
The insistence of the lesbians to return to this land, year after year, despite all odds; to buy land that for the locals was a sort of deadweight in those years, helped to bring about social and class change in the village, which for so many decades had been governed by a few rich families. In fact, some people identified with us perceiving us as a persecuted minority in a subconscious reaction to the ruling class, which still controlled their lives.
I, having been born on Lesbos felt in an in-between, suspended state. What was I, in the end? I balanced precariously and painfully, between my two identities – as a Lesvian-lesbian.
As a filmmaker, I have been compelled to capture the stories Eressos has given us in a collection of over 170 interviews with lesbians and local people. I have dedicated myself to this project for the last ten years, filming women who came here since the ’70s, women who built businesses here, women holidaymakers, and women who live here all year round, as well as the local people who saw the life of their remote village being actually “invaded” by skinhead, punk, strange women who were kissing their girlfriends at the village square. I trace how exchange and relationships between these very different groups developed over the years leading to a peaceful, remarkable, strange coexistence and balancing act in this corner of the world on the borders of Europe.
This film records 40 years of stories, memories, love affairs, social conflicts, joy, and sharing, in the village of Eressos and the lesbian community that still thrives there. I tell this story from my place as a Lesvian-lesbian, trying to make a home in the world that can include both parts of myself.
After working for over ten years, my passion and commitment for this project grow and I am determined to find a way to share all these wonderful stories. Now is the time to call on other professionals and collaborators to help bring the film to completion. This stage is costly and will require a budget of at least €20,000. I am reaching out and requesting financial support to enable me to commission a supervisor editor, an editor, a consultant to the script, a sound mixer, a music composer, a color correction specialist, get the license for music, transfer the archive material into a new digital form, transcribe the interviews, create a DCP, submit the film to the festivals, design a poster and other promotional material, and a long list of smaller but equally important and expensive procedures, and take the film into post-production. As well as an online fundraiser and other fundraising activities I am approaching individuals like yourself who I know, who know my work, and are part of this herstory.
If you want to get a taste of the lesbian community in our days, watch my film Sappho singing, based on a theatrical play by Maureen Duffy:
Watch my film Mr. Dimitris and Mrs. Dimitroula
LESVIA the Herstory of Eressos
Tzeli Hadjidimitriou è una filmmaker indipendente, fotografa e scrittrice, autrice di numerose guide turistiche della Grecia. E’ nata e cresciuta a Lesvos, l’isola della poetessa Saffo, ed ha studiato a Roma Direzione della fotografia per il cinema. Tzeli ha dedicato la vita a documentare la natura, la vita degli abitanti, le tradizioni (la musica, i caff è , i pescatori, ecc.) e i miti che vanno perdendosi della sua isola natale e di molte altre isole.
Il suo ultimo progetto è quello di raccontare la storia della comunità lesbica del piccolo villaggio di Eressos dove dagli anni ’70 si radunano, sulle sue spiagge deserte, donne di tutto il mondo in cerca delle traccie della poetessa Saffo originaria di quel luogo . Negli ultimi 10 anni Tzeli ha raccolto 100 interviste che raccontano storie, memorie e amori delle donne che vengono in vacanza a Eressos, di quelle che sono rimaste ad abitare e magari hanno aperto una attività e, più in generale, raccontano della relazione inclusiva creatasi con la comunità locale del remoto villaggio che ha fatto sì che le lesbiche si sentissero “a casa”, gioiose e libere di essere. Una lezione di inclusività (non solo perché ha portato reddito), una vera educazione transculturale nata dal basso, un esempio unico nel mondo.
vorrebbe ora condividere queste meravigliose storie raccolte
restituendoci un documentario che ha però dei costi di realizzazione
che richiedono un budget di spese vive di €20,000
(senza contare il tempo dedicato negli anni). Almeno le spese per
pagare un/una editore/editrice, un/una consulente, un/una
compositore/compositrice musicale, un/una traduttore/traduttrice per
le interviste, un/una grafico/grafica per la pubblicità e per tutti
i passaggi necessari alla finalizzazione del progetto.
E’ in corso una campagna di fundraising ed ogni supporto economico verrà accreditato nel film.
HighlightsSee all activity150
Identified as a major sponsor. Your name and logo will be featured on all publicity posters and banners, plus a prominent logo banner at screenings in Eressos . Also includes everything in previous rewards: Dinner with the Director, ticket to the premier and after show party in Eressos. Credited on the film with your name and the date of your first visit to Eressos. T-shirt and signed limited edition poster. If you are venue in Eressos and you are interested in this level reward please speak to us about other ideas we have to reward your support.
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