New Diaspora’s journey mapped
A web documentary project focusing on stories of Greek people who have chosen to live abroad because of the economic crisis is appealing for support to realise its global ambitions.
The New Diaspora project – which involves expatriates uploading video clips, photographs and stories – is the brainchild of Amsterdam-resident, film maker and online activist Nikos Stamboulopoulos.
Born and raised in Athens, Stamboulopoulos studied film making in London and worked in Greek TV and advertising for more than a decade. Dissatisfied with the country’s downward trajectory, he left in 2009.
“The way things were done there was depriving me of the chance to be creative and live my life as I wanted,” he says.
“Too much fear and hatred in the hearts of people. I chose to move to Amsterdam, a place that looks like a toothpaste commercial in comparison to the misery in the centre of Athens.”
New Diaspora set itself the challenge of raising $US 66,000 by May 3, to meet some of its costs through a crowdfunding appeal online, but looks likely to fall short with less than $US 3000 raised to date.
Nevertheless, Stamboulopoulos told Neos Kosmos this week that his plans for building a global online community to submit videos and participate in a documentary production is still on track.
“So far, New Diaspora has been an entirely self-funded project, and that translates to certain restrictions regarding the locations of our documentaries.
“If we don’t reach our target, we’ll have to leave Australia, the US and Canada out of our plans for this year, and settle with any user-generated content we can get for free instead.”
While fundraising to cover some of the production’s costs was crucial to achieve its global reach, said Nikos, time was also a factor.
“Fundraising takes time, which is the only thing we can’t afford to waste. This migration wave is already happening, and we want to record every single aspect of it.”
The decision to seek individual donations he says, was made to avoid “corporate interests and political compromises”.
This week, while the online appeal had raised less than he hoped, Stamboulopoulos was sounding upbeat.
“I probably sound crazy, but I still believe we have a chance to reach our goal. The New Diaspora online community is growing rapidly and so is international media attention.
“People from all over the world are sending us messages of support. Most are Greek, which basically means they are not going to decide anything until the very last moment…”
Nikos says his documentary series that will evolve from the New Diaspora project will categorise common themes of the diaspora’s experience – cultural shock, nostalgia, employment prospects, stereotypes and discrimination.
“New Diaspora is an open community, where expatriate Greeks can share their own creative content and opinions, from wherever they are.
“Our aim is to intervene in the public debate concerning what’s happening in our homeland. Also, to redefine our common identity and offer an alternative perspective on the international image of Greeks.”
Stamboulopoulos says he’s keen to encourage creatives of all kinds, wherever they are in the world, to join the New Diaspora project, and while he can’t offer fees as yet, the door is open.
“We’ve had positive feedback and contributions from every Greek community around the world. Maybe New Diaspora is not yet as well known in Australia as it is in Western Europe, but I’m sure it eventually will be.”
New Diaspora’s founder says that whilst the project focuses on the more recent wave of economic migrants from Greece, he’s committed to giving space to the opinions of what he calls “the veterans” who left Greece in the years of mass post-war migration and their offspring.
“In a connected world with so few degrees of separation, Greeks abroad can relate to a common cause with the speed of light. And that’s exactly why we are doing this.
“New Diaspora is not meant to be just a virtual fireplace to tell our stories, but an active network that discusses ideas and proposes solutions for all that matters to us. Who knows? With our homeland in distress, perhaps one day expatriate Greeks can be the cavalry that arrives out of nowhere to save the day.”
New Diaspora – a web documentary movement can be found at www.newdiaspora.com