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New Korsakow Project: A Road Movie through the Greek Soul

Florian ThalhoferCopyright: Korsakow.tv
Critical eye: Many of the protagonists in Thalhofer’s film take their government to task (Photo: Korsakow.tv)

2 February 2013

The reports shown in Germany about the crisis and Greece are too one-sided for media artist Florian Thalhofer. He went there himself to investigate on the streets of Greece. The result is a film with some surprising aspects – and not just the format. By Lisa Mayerhoefer

If this were a Korsakow article, then you would be allowed to decide how it continues. Do you want to know more about the Korsakow System? Or just start the film immediately? Perhaps with a brief anecdote about the greengrocer who offers his customers to take a haircut rather than pay? But, since this is a regular article, we will start at the beginning:

It began with two journeys that the media artist and filmmaker Florian Thalhofer and his Greek wife Elissavet took across Greece. En route, they collected material for their new Korsakow film GELD.GR – Das Geld und die Griechen (Money and the Greeks). The focus of their film is on the people they met and not on expert opinions.

Copyright: Korsakow.tv
Click on the screenshot to go to the film “GELD.GR.”


“If I were to meet Angela Merkel, I would shake her hand and say, ‘Thank you for not giving me anything. We have enough. All we need is a bicycle and a good life.’” This statement by a Greek may sound surprising in view of the precarious situation in his country – as does a good deal of GELD.GR – Das Geld und die Griechen.

Ruthless self-criticism

As a German in Greece, according to Thalhofer, one is presently confronted with the topic of the crisis wherever one goes. The people are not hostile, but bitter remarks are heard. This initial defensiveness gives way, however, to a far more differentiated opinion the longer one speaks with the people. Because, it becomes apparent, the Greeks want one thing most of all: for someone to finally listen to them. Florian and Elissavet Thalhofer let the people talk about what is on their minds most in the context of the crisis. There are no predetermined questions or guidelines for the interviews; only the subject matter is set: crisis, money and Greece.

Hardly any of the interviewees does not contemplate the situation critically. The Greeks not only take their government, its bureaucracy and corruption as well as reports in the media to task, but are also hard on themselves and their people. There is talk of a “model of shrewdness and cunning,” in which “those who pay taxes are considered dimwits” and “only the family counts, but not one’s neighbours.”

At the same time, the misery this population is going through is apparent: men who ought to be retired speak of months of hard work for no pay; fathers speak of their unemployed children. A young woman tears up when she talks about her lack of a future.

The Korsakow System

GELD.GR – Das Geld und die Griechen is a democratic film, particularly in its making. On the Internet and during a number of discussions held in Greece and Germany, the audience was permitted to evaluate the rough cut. Divided up in individual clips, only those sequences with particularly good or controversial marks were re-used. This demonstrated that the Greeks and Germans often have different viewpoints: the Greeks often gave negative marks to the statements by their politicians and Greeks living abroad, while the Germans disapproved of their own politicians and experts.

The final version of the film gives viewers more leeway. Thalhofer is the inventor of the Korsakow System, an open source program for the production of non-linear films. This means that the course of the film is not defined. Following a brief introduction, the viewers themselves can decide which clip they want to see next. A sort of wall appears that offers more clips with brief headings.

Florian Thalhofer does not keep his opinion to himself. In addition to the interviews there are many sequences that are overdubbed with his words. They are not devised as moderation, though, but as an opinion among many. For the filmmaker, the Korsakow System provides the opportunity to not appear as an authoritarian author, but to put his thoughts to debate. He also considers this principle important with regard to the crisis. “There is no right or wrong, but merely opinions or realities that we must agree upon together. If you do not participate in this process, others decide for you.”

The Korsakow film is part of the three-part project “Money and the Greeks.” It was a co-production with the Goethe-Institut Athens and also includes an interactive video installation and a discussion event in the format of the Korsakow Show.

Florian Thalhofer, born in 1972, is a documentary filmmaker and media artist. He has received a Literatur.Digital Award, a Red Dot Design Award, a Werkleitz Award and other prizes for his work. Thalhofer studied at the Berlin University of the Arts, where he worked for a number of years as lecturer after graduating. He was a guest professor at the Deutsche Literaturinstitut Leipzig and taught at the Mediamatic Institute in Amsterdam.
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