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Academy Award Winner Olympia Dukakis recently opened her private apartment for a very special evening. “The only people who come here are my grandchildren, today is an exception.

By Claudine Kanari

That’s how special this project is to me,” she said, referring to the fundraiser party for the feature documentary, Three Candles, produced by Orama Pictures, which she is attached to narrate.

Mrs. Dukakis met filmmaker and co-founder of Orama Pictures, Stavroula Toska, a year and a half earlier and the two managed to keep in touch. In January of 2010, Tosca was writing a script with her writer/producer friend, Sophia Antonini, and they took it to Olympia to discuss if she’d be interested in a part. Dukakis, who had come to know Toska very well by then, had something else in mind. She handed Tosca a book of translations, Greek Women In Resistance, written by Elena Fourteen, to read, which she in turn passed on to Antonini. Both filmmakers were amazed by what they discovered. They knew immediately that this was something very special and needed to do everything in their power to bring it to the world…and that’s when it all began.

Three Candles documents the true-life stories of the women caught in the crossfire during the Civil War in Greece. “We are very grateful that we were able to travel to Greece to meet the few women left from that period. Thank God they agreed to speak with us. They have been through so much over the years, the fear that at any given moment they can have everything taken away from them again never goes away - and that’s an understatement,” says Toska. Antonini adds: “They were a bit suspicious in the beginning as to what it is exactly we were doing, but once they saw how passionate and serious both of us are about our work, how amazed we are by their stories, they opened up to us and after that it kept getting better and better.”

Unfortunately, devastating majorities of people around the world, including Greeks, have no idea that concentrations camps ever existed in Greece. The interned women’s dreams and beliefs for a liberated Greece, independence, equal rights and opportunities, education, these are some of the reasons they were tortured, broken down and humiliated.

”I have been carrying these women and their stories with me every day,” says Toska who through this work was shocked to discover that her own grandmother, who raised her along with Toska’s mother, was one of these women. “My mother refused to answer any of my questions until she realized I wouldn’t stop asking that I have a right to know my family’s past.” Toska, in a sense, felt ashamed for not knowing this part of Greece’s history. “People made mistakes on both sides, it was a Civil War after all, but this doesn’t mean the younger generation shouldn’t be made aware of what happened.” Antonini wanted to know even more. “I wasn’t born and raised in Greece like Stavroula, but this story spoke to me as a woman, as a human being.”

They began their research right away, nothing held them back, “we were discovering new things by the minute and questions such as ‘why isn’t this part of history in textbooks? Why are people still afraid to discuss this openly? Where did these women find the strength and courage to persevere?’ made us pursue this even more,” says Antonini.

“We are very well aware this is a controversial project. Is that going to stop us? No. We have a responsibility to these women and to ourselves to complete this and share it with the masses,” replies Toska. “You should see how people of all ages and backgrounds respond when they hear about the project. The theme is universal - family, fighting for what one believes in…how many people do you know in this day and age who would do that?” adds Antonini.

Anyone can see in the way the filmmakers talk about the women, that they have inspired and taught them so much, “and they are so funny! They told us what kept them alive was the support system they had for one another and their sense of humor, they’d make a joke out of everything,” Toska says laughing. “And don’t get me started about their energy, they put us to shame,” Antonini adds putting her face in her hands, “so embarrassing.”

Toska reiterates that Olympia is the cherry on top. “She’s been such a force through all of this, she started it all. She’s one tough lady and we love her.”

Bottom line, the filmmakers are two proud gals full of excitement and big goals for Three Candles and other projects being developed by their Production Company. Three Candles will be completed for festival submission Fall 2011. For more information, visit www.oramapictures.info

Fractured Atlas, a non-profit Arts organization, sponsors Three Candles. To make a donation, visit the Fractures Atlas link on the company’s website. Contributions are tax deductible.


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