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Vanessa McMahon

Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)



HERO OF ALL SEAS, a review

still from the film

HERO OF ALL SEAS (Syria, 2010) is a poignant and heart-felt short documentary film, 27’, about a Kurdish man named Abo Yashar who is one of the few men from his native country to have escaped successfully to Athens, Greece. Thousands of Kurdish emigrants have tried to flee to Europe illegally and have failed, making Abo a kind of local hero for his so-called successful passage as many of these emigrants lost their lives at sea during the perilous passage to Greece.

In Derki’s film, we follow Abo who has been donned the name ‘Hero of All Seas’ by fellow Kurds in Athens because of his successful swim from Turkey to Greece, not an easy feat. But is the myth true? Is Abo really a ‘hero’? Abo admits in the film that he has lived in Athens for over six years and still cannot consider it his ‘second home’. Athens is a hard city with ‘little to offer’, Abo says.

He has never succeeded in bringing his family to Greece to join him, thus he lives in Athens alone with a modest job and a life far from the one he had hoped for. While he has spent the years dreaming of his home with nostalgic images of olive trees and rolling hills, recent pictures from his Kurdish village reveal to him that it has become nothing more than a rotting land of industry and polluted water reservoirs.

Abo wonders if being a ‘hero’ would be to stay in Athens, a city which has given him no more than his first real ID card in all the years he has spent there, and continue to fight or to finally return home. With one foot in the West and one on the East, Abo remains somewhere stuck in between, at sea.

This thought-provoking documentary ends with a montage of photos of mass emigration to Greece of boatloads packed with desperate souls hoping for a new and better life, most of them tragically meeting only their death, handicap or a life of begging in the Athens streets. This calls to question the meaning of heroism. Is heroism succeeding in something where others fail? Is it merely survival? Or is it success itself? Or is being a 'hero' merely a myth each of us creates for ourselves, projecting the dream onto others just to give us hope for our own fate? Whatever the reason, Abo is a ‘hero of all seas’ for many and just a man at sea to himself and to others.

Written by, Vanessa McMahon

HERO OF ALL SEAS director Talal Derki


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