with Anna Lauenstein
Music by Lisa Baeyens and Niklas Lutterbach

Hotel Xenia

Full HD, 66min

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Sculptures and tourists - those who stand around and those who move towards them to recognize themselves. There are the originals, the eternal revenants and the broken ones. Generations of travellers who set out to reassure themselves of their roots. Back to the cradle of Europe.

With these words, the two filmmakers Max Hilsamer and Anna Lauenstein start a journey to the Mediterranean on the trail of European places of longing.
But this one is a grand tour on a deconstruction course - if you want to find the fractures and branches of a narrative, you have to walk its trodden path again and again:

What about this story of the origins of European culture has always been a violent exclusion of others? What role does a monument play in the construction of the self and the other? And could the story be told in a completely different way?

With these questions, the two filmmakers visit various monuments and have conversations with the people whose paths cross there.


At Thermopylae, a hot spring in central Greece, truckers, hippies and tourists bathe and meet a community of people from Syria and Iraq who have recently settled in an empty hotel. A monument has been erected next to the spring to commemorate the ancient Persian wars that took place here 2500 years ago. This battle of the 300 was not only the inspiration for two Hollywood films, but is also instrumentalized by numerous political actors. And while the guests of the old Hotel Xenia are slowly becoming hosts, the governing mayor of the district town of Lamia would prefer to expel them all - he has better plans for the site: the spring is to be privatized.

In the port of Piraeus one notices different mobilities: Of goods, tourists and migrants. At the edge of the harbour basin stands a copy of a plundered lion statue, which refers to the fact that cultural assets are also migrating and which recalls a time when the Parthenon of Athens was still a mosque.

On the island of Lesbos there is a Statue of Liberty. It looks across to the Turkish mainland and stands there as if to emphasise once again that the strait at her feet is a border. The discussions on the spot shed light on how the history of this monument is also a history of relations with the Anatolian mainland, and how the hard demarcation that now separates Europe from the rest of the world came about.
The statue stands in painful contrast to the fact that on the island up to 10000 people are concentrated in so-called "hotspots" in order to prevent them from continuing their journey to the European heartland.
Nevertheless, the young people from the refugee camps have appropriated the place - the statue has become a meeting place and a new place of longing.

 

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