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RIVERBANKS tells a subtle love story from the banks of the river Evros that separates Greece and Turkey. Yannis, a soldier who clears leftover mines from the Cypriot War of 1974, falls for Chryssa who smuggles children over the Evros into Greece.


On the border between Turkey and Greece lies the River Evros, where thousands of refugees cross each year on their perilous trek to Europe. But if the journey were not dangerous enough, these migrants also face a neighboring stretch of land where a different political crisis has left a deadly legacy. Spanning an 11-kilometer section of the riverbank lies a field of unexploded land mines, planted by the Greek military in 1974 during a conflict with Turkey over Cyprus. Despite Greece's efforts to clear the field and fence off the area, migrants continue to mistake the fences for the border, often with tragic results.

This haunted no-man's land provides the physical and emotional backdrop for RIVERBANKS, a poignant, broken love story about a Greek soldier and a woman who transports children across the river. Yannis (Andreas Konstantinou) is a volunteer minesweeper whose loneliness and isolation has given him a sixth sense around death. His hands converse with wind, land, and water as he intuitively – and often recklessly – identifies buried landmines that evade detectors. But his efforts are not enough to stop the innocent from dying. Chryssa (Elena Mavridou), who guides the children through dark waters, is also tormented when she fails to protect the youth. Herself a mother, she must negotiate her economic survival with the pressures of the smuggling ring.

When the two meet each other on the bank of the river, their encounter triggers an odyssey of hope and vulnerability. Forging a family of geo-political circumstance, Yannis will join Chryssa and her baby in a bid for intimacy, life, and renewal. But their journey will be treacherous, with tragedy laying in wait just beneath the surface.

RIVERBANKS is a timely film, not just for its portrayal of the perils facing refugees, but also for its sensitive exploration of the ripple effects of a crisis on the humanitarian psyche. Under the care of director Panos Karkanevatos, it is a quiet film, with empty longing landscapes and a stillness that bypasses the current media cacophony. It gives you the space to listen, and to feel the changes in the wind.

Dolissa Medina


Original title: Ohthes
Griechenland 2015, 96 min
Genre: Drama
Director: Panos Karkanevatos
Author: Panos Karkanevatos, Isidoros Zourgos
DOP: Dimitris Katsaitis
Montage: Kenan Akkawi
Distributor: Real Fiction Filmverleih
Cast: Diamantis Adamantidis, Andreas Konstantinou, Elena Mavridou, Erik Schäffler
FSK: 12
Release: 19.11.2015


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