Here (again – link removed 03/15) the French “controversial” documentary on DVD from 2010, published with subtitles in different languages, 52 minutes long, about life on the Holy Mountain in 2007. Made by director Eddy Vicken and writer Yvon Bertorello, with an estimated budget of € 400.000,00.
In the meanwhile I had the opportunity to see the documentary yesterday evening. According to me the only “controversial” thing about this documentary is the fact that it was shot without permission of the Iera Epistasia. The film showes an interesting view about life in monasteries (not only in Docheiariou, but also in Esfigmenou) and of Mount Athos’ cultural and religious heritage, but it also shows its amazing nature and history.
The film gives a neutral account of life on Athos in 2007, were, if you like it or not, Esfigmenou is a part off. It is true that the abbot of Esfigmenou and the French monk get their chance to explain their point of view, but I did not get the feeling that the maker of the film was promoting their ideas, in fact an opposite reaction might occur: viewers might reject their extreme points of view about religious ideas and why they call themselves “Zelotes”. As a Dutchman living in Amsterdam, where many different (religious) groups of people lived together for a long time (Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Katholics, Jews, Moslims, Hindoes, Boedists and humanists/non-believers), I always get a little nervous when groups of people start quarelling about their religious ideas. It reminds my of dark times in history and recent unpleasant events in this city …….
But anyway, officially you can take pictures on Mount Athos, but it is still forbidden to shoot films (= moving images), and I have seen that video-cameras were confiscated on the boat to Dafni. In meanwhile everybody knows that almost every photocamera or cell-phone has the possibility of shooting (HD)-films, so the compliance of the rule is nearly impossible. I would recommend to lift the ban on filming in this modern age, it would make things much easier.
“For the first time since it was founded by a Byzantine Emperor in 963 in northern Greece, this forbidden territory opens up to outsidersâ€”and camerasâ€”to reveal the complexities and beauty of a hidden society”.