Three young men—two brothers and their cousin—meet on a dense summer night to feel the “high” of a dozen “Hasiklidika” songs; Rebetiko songs from the beginning of the 20th century which celebrate the effects of Hashish. But beyond the pleasures of drugs, it is here a question of love, of joy and sadness, a search for freedom and political commitment… Little by little, yesterday’s counterculture, made out of poverty and violence, and built on the pains of exile, reverberates the one of today. —Elise Florenty & Marcel Türkowsky
On a warm summer’s night in Greece, in a dimly lit room, Don’t Rush joins a pirate radio show whose host has dedicated a programme to old Rebetiko songs. Two others join him in listening; they sing, sleep and smoke. The atmosphere is casual and heartfelt—an invitation to shed the distractions of the world, to slow down and sit with the music.
The radio host—who may or may not have listeners on the other side of the airwaves—plays his favourite records. He sings along with the lyrics and talks of his life against the backdrop of the music’s context and history: created by immigrants, shaped by marginalisation and the desire for freedom. The result is a film that captures the experience of simply getting lost in music and the capacity of music to resonate across time and place.
Lyrics about hashish, love, loss and belonging imbue this hazy room, connecting a past time to the present. Words here are both heavy and tender. The host translates the meaning and context of the lyrics, where “berries” speak of bullets and “clothes” of prisoners, as well as their echoes of contemporary Greek life. For him, the music is also a political engagement, a call to responsibility for the hostility and violence of Europe’s land and sea borders.
In the 1920s, Rebetiko emerged in the settlements, on the edge of Athens, Piraeus and other Greek cities, where refugees from Asia Minor resettled and lived alongside poor, working class Greeks, sharing their culture, musical ideas and instruments. Looked down on by the upper and middle classes in Greece at the time, who favoured a classical European style of music, Rebetiko was defined by migration and a countercultural exchange of culture and ideas.
The three listeners are filmed in fragments—through mirrors and shadows—alongside the domestic details of the room. The image is sometimes obscured, non-linear perhaps, but connected through the music: the radio programme is heard in real time. Another time is brought into the current moment, not as nostalgia, but as a way of locating and listening to the present. —Christina Demetriou
Supported by the Goethe-Institut London
Elise Florenty & Marcel Türkowsky (1978, Bordeaux & Berlin) are an artist/film director duo based in Berlin and Paris. They’ve directed together several short and mid-length films exploring specific social-political situations through the prism of altered states of consciousness, delirium and ecstasy. Combining their interests in cinema and sonic anthropology, their films investigate the multiplicity of the self through a spiral of metamorphoses that interrogate our power relation—always shifting—to the ‘Other’ (‘the enemy, the plant, the animal, the spirit, the dead’). Their work has been presented at numerous international film festivals and art institutions including International Film Festival Rotterdam, FID Marseille, DocLisboa, CCCB Barcelona and Centre Pompidou (Paris). They have received the European Media Art Festival award for their film works The Sun Experiment (Ether Echoes) (2014) and Conversation with a Cactus (2017). Bom Dia Books recently published their first monograph entitled One Head Too Many.
Don’t Rush (2020), Back to 2069 (2019), Conversation with a Cactus (2017), Shadow-Machine (2016), The Sun Experiment (Ether Echoes) (2013–14), Delirium Ambulare (2012), A Short Organon for the Hero (2012), Holy Time in Eternity, Holy Eternity in Time (2011)