Dogs of Democracy
directed by Mary Zournazi
The Greek economy may be collapsing, but at least they are kind to animals. As in many small countries, stray dogs populate the streets of Athens. But here, they live reasonably safe lives with a troop of unemployed Greek citizens taking care of them, feeding them, and seeing to the major medical conditions all furry creatures are subject to. There seems a reasonable number of both dogs and dog-caretakers; dog packs don’t appear in this film. Each dog is named: we meet Thyros and Loukanikos and Fotoula. The dogs seem calm and pacific; they lay about and sometimes need to be physically moved to allow traffic or repairmen to do their jobs. It’s rather idyllic for a country in economic collapse.
Along with the dogs we get an eclectic view of modern Athens. There are millennia old temples in constant need of upkeep, shiny high rises, quite streets with cafes and shops, and the Greek people who all look like the denizens of any modern European metropolis. The narration begins with the tale of the dogs, but eventually settles down on the Greek crisis of the past decade: corruption and low tax collection make Greece’s place in the European Union uncertain. Their financial problems drag down the Euro, forcing more successful countries like France and Germany grudgingly attempt to fix the problem. That fix isn’t evident in this film, but at least they are kind to stray dogs. And that’s my takeaway: be kind to animals and be kind to your neighbors. As humans we aren’t always good at these things, but at least this film makes a case for niceness.