Director's statement
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Each in their own way, the protagonists of Combat au bout de la nuit have decided to confront the unknown head-on, either by refusing to submit to their country’s social, economic and political situation, or by fleeing war. Their voices intersect in a choral structure; through speech, song, screams and poetry, they tell the story of their struggle for a space for all.

Cleaning women
Cleaning women 2
Cleaning women from the Finance Ministry

The Samaras government thought it could make some easy savings by dismissing, without notice, the 595 non-unionized cleaning women who worked for the Finance Ministry, in an attempt to meet troika demands. But the injustice of the mass layoff awakened in the women an incredible capacity to fight back. They occupied the entrance to the ministry’s headquarters for more than 300 days, and engaged in other sit-ins and direct actions. Through their public actions, they showed the Greek people a symbol of resistance to the austerity measures imposed by the troika. Their presence is a beacon throughout the film.

Alexandra Pavlou
Alexandra Pavlou 2
Alexandra Pavlou

A freelance worker, Alexandra Pavlou was involved with several solidarity groups in her neighbourhood, Exarchia. Unofficial clinics popped up all over Greece, as the only way to fight back against the dismantling of the health and social services system. But for Alexandra, the clinics were above all a political force, because they demonstrated the people’s ability to invent ways to live outside the structures of the state.

Sipan Rojava
Sipan Rojava 2
Sipan Rojava

The life of Sipan Rojava, a Syrian-Kurd refugee, has been marked by a long series of exiles. He arrived in Greece by sea long before the “refugee crisis” of 2015. He carries his country with him, in his poems and songs.

Abdallah Marzouk
Abdallah Marzouk 2
Abdallah Marzouk

Abdallah fled his country after he was imprisoned and tortured there. In Greece, he obtained political-refugee status, but still lives in the street, penniless. He manages to survive because, as he says in the film, “back home, we know how to coax water from the desert.”

Makis Mantas
Makis Mantas 2
Makis Mantas

A physician involved with the people’s clinics in Athens, his analysis of the collapse of the Greek healthcare system is reminiscent of the atrophy afflicting healthcare systems throughout the West, undermined by graft, corruption, pharmaceutical companies’ pressure on doctors, among other factors.

Sekou Djabi
Sekou Djabi 2
Sekou Djabi

This young father is a former Fula shepherd who arrived in Athens but is trying to move on to another part of Europe, hoping to reach the United States eventually. He salvages clothes, jewellery and other items from the city’s trash, reselling them at a clandestine night market. He reveals an underground micro-economy in which many Athenians participate in order to survive.

                          Ramin Alizadeh
                          Ramin Alizadeh 2
Ali Ramin Alizadeh and the young Afghans of Patras

They fled their country because their lives were in danger, and now Europe and Greece are treating them as illegal immigrants. The Afghans hide out in the abandoned factories of the port city of Patras, hoping to stow away on ships bound for Italy. Every day they are hunted by the police, even though most of them are teenagers.

Hamine 2

After arriving in Greece intending to move on to Germany as soon as possible, Hamine was imprisoned for 18 months in the Corinth detention centre. In a conversation with a friend, he discussed prison life, the lack of care, shortages of food – and an abundance of medication for controlling the inmates. From that encounter, it became clear that for migrants, prison still exists beyond its walls.

Kostas Liakopoulos
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Kostas Liakopoulos and the men of the port of Perama in Athens

These longshoremen, laid off without compensation, have a lucid perspective on the failings of union action and the rise of fascism in Greece. They also express their skepticism about the arrival of Syriza on the political stage. Kostas says that if elections could change anything, they would have been abolished long ago.

                          Roma 2
The Roma of the Chalandri district

Expelled from downtown Athens some 40 years ago and moved to a neighbourhood on the north side of Athens, once a desolate no-man’s land, the Roma have gradually built modest houses and made the district their home, a peaceful place to live. But urban growth has caught up with them, and a nearby metro station has made their land attractive to speculators. The city plans to uproot them yet again, and through their situation it becomes clear that Greece’s economic collapse has opened Athens to all kinds of predatory activity. As for the Roma, they have always been domestic refugees.

Spyros 2

A former sailor who has been around the world, Spyros found himself unemployed, and then imprisoned. Now he lives in the street and has nothing. The 51-year-old hopes to see his children again before he dies, and still dreams of life at sea.

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