You’ve reached your limit of free articles for this month.
Get unlimited access to The National Herald, starting as low as $7.99/month for digital subscription & $5.99/month for a delivery by mail subscription
Athena Krikeli, writer, producer, director of ‘Proud Blue – Police in Thessaly Hellas’ with AHEPA Icarus – Athens Airport Chapter HJ-36 Mesogeia President Kosmas Pentakalos.
ATHENS – The documentary Proud Blue – Police in Thessaly Hellas has received numerous awards world-wide, but the warm reception and expressions of appreciation from members of Greece’s police forces and justice officials at the June 9 screening of the film at the War Museum in Athens made the enormous time and effort more than worthwhile for the film’s writer, director, and producer, journalist Athina Krikeli, and her fine team.
The event was organized by AHEPA Icarus – Athens Airport Chapter HJ-36 Mesogeia, Ellopia Films USA – which created the film – and the Geopolitical Research Institute, which sponsored the event.
Proud Blue – Police in Thessaly brings the viewer – more importantly, the average citizen – into the daily life and death reality of police officers in one of Greece’s main regions, spotlighting the challenges and rewards of one of the most dangerous, and oftentimes misunderstood – but necessary – professions.
The president of HJ-36, Kosmas Pentakalos, President of welcomed and addressed the guests, who included the Minister of Citizen Protection and the Citizen Takis Theodorikakos. The event was attended by the Minister of Citizen’s Protection of Hellas, the Ministry’s General Secretary Konstantinos Tsouvalas, and the recently appointed Chief of the Hellenic Police, Konstantinos Skoumas, together with hundreds of other guests, including the Governor of AHEPA-Hellas Konstantinos Varsamis. Journalists Fotis Karydas and Sotiris Polyzos were the Emcees.
With Turkey’s recent provocations in mind, Theodorikakos placed the Hellenic police in the context of Greece’s national security and the defense of her sovereignty as well as Democracy. The documentary began on a similar note, revealing that many of Greece’s first policemen were veterans of the War of Independence.
Krikeli, who lives in New York and Greece, explained the film’s origins to The National Herald. “We started filming in the middle of the pandemic. I happened to be in my family’s village, in Spilia near Larissa. I didn’t know the chief of police, but I observed how the police were working so hard, all the time, overtime, and I thought ‘I’m here, let’s do it.’ I made them a proposal, which headquarters approved, but they suggested we wait until after the pandemic, and I said, “no, no, no. I’m going to do it now.”
She knew intuitively that showing the police interacting with the people during a time of crisis and need for the citizens and stressful times for the police would, humanize the latter – and provide viewers unique insights into the challenges and motivations experienced by the officers.
The documentary was moving and honest, because it did not shy away from the reality that certain unfortunate incidents and ‘bad apples’ reinforce the tradition of antipathy of a large part of Greek society to police often driven by political ideology. Some of the most moving moments focused on the faces police officers when they expressed their desire to help people. Supervisors also emphasized the police departments are the problem solvers of the community, especially during crises,
The pandemic provided a bifocal lens, the documentary spotlighting both the fact that police were enforcing COVID restrictions that were unpopular with some segments of society, but appreciated by others. With certain reforms moving forward in Greece, the film perhaps captured the beginning of a transformation of the relationship between police and the citizens.
The cinematography and directing were excellent – putting the viewer in the scene and the scene in social context.
One woman officer said, “we are people too – and the police force is always on the side of the law abiding citizen.” The issues of the moments in a democracy when citizens feel the need to resort to passive or active resistance and even force, and whether student protesters are properly classified as ‘delinquents’ justifying harsh tactics, and the general problem of the excessive use of force by the police in response is left for another day, although there were numerous references by officials in the film to improvements in training and other reforms.
A welcome addition to such discussions, that often descend into stereotypes and name-calling, were moving scenes the police helping people amid the devastation of a recent earthquake. The scenes where the film makers accompany the crime suppression teams were both poignant and informative. “Our policy is to always be prepared for the worst” said one official, and another said, “our goal is to return every officer to his family” – reminding viewers of what officers are prepared to sacrifice for public good.
The world premier was in Larissa July 25, 2021 – “there were 1,220 people!,” Krikelo said. “The success was that there were a lot of civilians, and they really liked it. That was something!” – which put them on the path to success at international film festivals, with nine awards to date.
The film ended with a touch of humanizing humor and cinema verite, with Krikeli being led off in handcuffs by police with police car lights flashing.
BROOKLYN, NY – On June 11, Brooklyn AHEPA Chapter 41 presented a $10,000 donation to Saints Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral as a result of the proceeds raised from the Tenth Annual Brooklyn Greek Community Combined Golf Outing.
PHILADELPHIA – The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Philadelphia and Greater Delaware Valley announced that the Evzones, the Presidential Guard of Greece will be participating in the Philadelphia Greek Independence Day Parade on March 20.
Have an idea for a story, or know of an event we should cover? We want to hear about it!
The National Herald is the paper of record of the Greek Diaspora community. Through independent journalism, we bring news to generations of Greek-Americans, with stories on the individual, community and international level. Visit and support our 106 year-old sister publication Εθνικός Κήρυξ.
You’re reading 1 of 3 free articles this month. Get unlimited access to The National Herald. or Log In