Yesterday my Athos friends and I went to see the Athos film in Amsterdam/De Balie. The film was introduced by the producer father Alexander Plysko from Kiev.
The film lasts 80 minutes and is shot in 4 years during 2015-2019 in the monastery Doucheiariou in Athos. The cameraman is Alexander Zaporoschenko. It is an account of the life in a monastery, in all its aspects. It shows the daily life in a monastery and the thoughts and doubt of the old abbot, Hegoumen Grigorios, who suffered from diabetes and passed away in 2018.
Abbot Grigorios had an open and liberal mind and allowed his monks things that you usually don’t see on Mount Athos. A special scene in the movie is a monk playing music from Bach on a piano. Father Alexander explained after showing the film that this monk learned to play classical music on piano before he went to Athos. Because he missed playing music (which is absolutely forbidden on Athos!), the abbot bought a piano and placed it somewhere outside the monastery in one of the workplaces, where could play the instrument.
There is also a lovely scene of a monk who takes care of the (many!) cats. The monk says ” that all his cats protect the monastery against rats and snakes”. He is the only monk who spoke English, the rest of the monks -ofcourse- speak Greek.
Although Ukrainian, father Alexander spend his time in the Greek speaking monastery, because he wanted to improve his singing competences and he was told that Docheiariou should be the place to be. He told the public on my question about Ukrain-Russian relationships in Panteleimonos that it gives no problems. They live together in harmony and both the patriarch Bartholomew and Kyrill are commemorated during the services. The Patriarch Bartholomew in Constantinople knows this and agrees with it.
The images shot of nature -during every season- are stunning. Rain, storm, high winds, snow and hot summer days are shown. The monks at Docheiriou work hard and during a scene at the jetty even a small fight breaks ou between some monks. The cause of this fight is not clear.
In all I would strongly recommend to see this film, it gives a special insight in the every day live of the monks, but also how many time they spend in church praying and singing: the scene of the Easter service – useally all night long – is fantastic, and also the initiation of a priest monk, where the abbot start crying, is an extraordinary scne. Go and see it.
Our panel of viewers/Athos pilgrims gave it 4 stars **** (out of five).
A special thanks to ms Katia Novikova, who made it possible to see the film with Dutch subtitles in The Netherlands (and in Belgium).
Wim Voogd, 5/8
NB. look here to find out where the films shows: 11th August again in De Balie in Amsterdam.