“Silent Fish”

Thodoris Chondrogiannos describes, how a simple idea became a documentary, that in a few days will premiere to the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival.

-this project was realized during the 1st cycle of iMEdD’s #incubator.

Snapshot during film shooting.

Thanks to my grandparents’ roots in Crete and Leros , I spent many of my childhood summers in both those beautiful places. My long vacations gave me, like other children who left the big cities after the much-awaited end of the school year, the chance to get to know the islands’ fishermen.

Thodoris Chondrogiannos with a sponge harvester at Lipsi island, during film shooting.

In my eyes, fishermen were always a rare breed, that did not exist in the dense urban centres, appearing only during the carefree summer season. It was part of the freedom we enjoyed in the summer. Childhood times, lost in ignorance and happiness.

The idea of a documentary on the lives of fishermen and overfishing came from the juxtaposition between my childhood memories and the dangers of today’s unsustainable exploitation of fish stocks in times of a full-blown climate crisis. According to UN scientific studies, overfishing – or catching fish from the sea faster than populations can safely reproduce – is one of the main causes of species decline, along with deforestation, climate change and pollution. Although the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy set a target to end overfishing by 2020 at the latest, today the Mediterranean is the most overfished sea on the planet, with most of its stocks, over 60%, being overfished. The persistence of overfishing is not just a threat to fish. It also threatens fishermen, whose culture emerged thousands of years ago, when human civilisation took its first steps on the Mediterranean coasts. 

Snapshot during film shooting.

Armed with these facts and emotions, I decided to submit a documentary proposal to the first round of iMEdD’s Incubator, which turned an immature idea into a production that travelled across the Mediterranean – from Samos and Kavala to the Iberian peninsula and Pantelleria -, in order to film the life of fishermen in an investigative journalism project on the failure of national and EU policies to tackle overfishing.

Remembering the poet’s words, the production of the documentary was a long journey full of adventures and knowledge, in which the people of iMEdD supported the realisation of the idea on the one hand with the necessary material resources, and on the other with advice and know-how on how a small idea can be turned into a feature-length documentary. 

Snapshot during film shooting.

Today, one year after the beginning of this journey, we know that Silent Fish – a title born after many working ones – will make its world première at the 22nd Thessaloniki Documentary Festival. We hope this will be the first cinematic port on an equally long screening voyage. 

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