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Evros-Meric, The Other Side (2010)
Έβρος (original title)
Documentary, 70 min
Production country   Greece
Language   Greek
Director   Chronis Pechlivanidis
Scriptwriter   Chronis Pechlivanidis
Plot keywords    
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An estimated of 35 million people in the world today has been forced to run for their lives, and is either temporarily or permanently exiled from their homes. Half of them are women and children. Many are fleeing persecution, armed conflict, murder, rape, and mutilation. Their way of reaching a secure territory is through the hands of human smugglers.
Evros-Meric, The Other Side focuses on the interaction between smugglers and refugees and the preparations involved in the fleeing. This film investigates "the human smuggling business", conducting interviews with all parties involved, as well as related NGO's and security officials, thus giving a sense of reality to the viewers.

Over the last decade both Turkey and Greece have been exposed to the flow of irregular migrants often being smuggled through the Middle East to the Balkans, and then intending to sneak into western Europe. The Turkish–Greek border – a land border of more than 203 kilometers and the lengthy and curvy coast of the Aegean Sea – is no exception to such crossings. Their journey begins in their home country and ends, if they are lucky, in Europe. Illegal immigrants are taken from city to city or from country to country via ‘hand-to-hand’ or ‘smuggler-to smuggler’. This film follows their journey through the smugglers until the Turkish side of Evros River, where the major crossings occur, aiming to unveil the story behind the smuggling business.
As the smugglers reveal in this film: “The human smuggling business does not always involve large networks of smugglers organized through mafia-like structure, at least in Turkey. Smaller organizations employ diverse and flexible mechanisms of human smuggling” and he continues: “There are specific networks that provide fake documents. Other groups are the landlords who rent their houses as illegal migrant dormitories for the accommodation of hundreds of migrants in places like İstanbul, İzmir, Çanakkale; the small hotel operators who are revealed after every police operation but continue to act as home-providers for passing illegal immigrants.” All these actors are pieces in the chain and help expand and deepen the network. The transfer of funds by the smugglers is a complicated system. When the migrant reaches the destination (such as Istanbul or Athens) he is locked in a room called “the shock rooms”. In order to be freed he calls the cashier in his country and, with the use of a previously selected password, assures that the money reaches the smuggler. This film reveals those “shock rooms” with full of migrants waiting to be freed and continue their journey.

Today, not only Greece and Turkey but also other countries in the Balkans and the EU, face many challenges in the management and control of refugees flowing into them. This documentary shed-lights a major issue of global interest, not only because of the increasing numbers of people crossing borders but also because of the daily interaction with refugees, either on a personal or political level that causes rage and racism throughout the western world.
Director's Concept
I was born 200km away from the Turkish-Greek borders. 
I remember Evros as huge river dividing the two countries. My grandfather came from Bursa all the way crossing that river in the 1930’s. He was one of those thousands of Greeks who cross this border river for survival. Same happened for the Turks thus this river use to be the crossing point for many centuries. All the above experiential memories drove me to investigate the new era of immigration. 
With my team we had an extensive research in Istanbul which is the big pot of immigration dilemma of Europe. We watch TV news reports and documentaries focusing on the immigrants, which is important and gives a sentimental approach to understand their struggle. In this documentary we chose to focus on the other side, the smugglers and the human smuggling business.
In this film the protagonists are the smugglers and their network. Our aim is to unveil this mafia structured business by creating a personal connection with the smugglers which we already established.
We concluded the first episode of the film which can be considered as the pre-production of the final work by having the smugglers facing the camera and unveiling their story. We will continue to develop our relations with the smugglers to get a better insight and shed-light all the pieces of this smuggling network.
At the end of this film we will discover that after the narcotics, guns and human trafficking human smuggling is the next big worldwide money making business.

We started filming in the middle of 2010 mostly on the Greek side, than we developed our project filming in Istanbul and the Turkish side of the Evros-Meric river.
We aim to film more in Turkish territory and the entry points where Turkey has borders with Iran, Iraq and Syria. We will also film the entry points in Turkey such as Van and Mardin. Istanbul, as a mega city, is the headquarters of the smuggling business. This city is where the money changes hands, the smugglers gather, close deals and prepare the last leg of this dangerous journey towards Europe. We intend to reveal all in this documentary.

Promotion and distribution plan:
Immigration and human smuggling is a global issue and all the major European media networks will be highly interested in broadcasting this documentary. 

A special screening will be held in Istanbul by Anadolu Kultur (Turkey) and Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly (Turkey) in co-operation with UNHCR offices both in Greece and Turkey.
Anadolu Kültür is a civil initiative, committed to fostering mutual understanding through arts and culture, and has been working as an NGO on the sharing of culture and artistic production, focused on community development, participation, and a multi-stakeholder approach since 2002.
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly is a non-governmental organization, working on the notions of fundamental rights and freedoms, peace, democracy and pluralism.

The film will participate on the following festivals:

Special screening of the Amnesty International in Istanbul
Technical Specifications Image / Sound
Color / Black & White   Color
Sound format   Dolby Stereo
Aspect ratio   16:9
Production format   HDCAM
Distribution format   HDCAM Tape
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Films of Chronis Pechlivanidis
Evros-Meric, The Other Side
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