Dialog Box

Arts | Community | Education | Human Rights | Refugees | Social Justice
The Rembetika Blues
The Rembetika Blues is a documentary film about the power of music and what makes us human. Rembetika music or the Greek blues is a music of the streets and a music of refugees. The film explores the heart and soul of Rembetika music through peoples’ stories of love, loss and belonging.I became fascinated by Rembetika music because of its history and my personal relationship to the music. I am the granddaughter of refugees from the Smyrna disaster in Turkey in 1922. A tragedy that has been forgotten in the annals of European and world history.The film tracks my grandmother’s story through images of the Smyrna disaster in 1922, and the arrival of refugees into the port of Piraeus, Greece. As the film develops, I travel back to Smyrna to capture some of the feelings and memories of this place and its history. Through the interweaving of my story narration, interviews and the music, this film will bring the depth of humanness of refugee experience and the intergenerational relationships of memory and trauma. My film provides a unique approach to Rembetika music and to refugee experience by exploring the music as it continues to evolve in Greece and in the diaspora. Given this angle, this film works to bring to light the feelings, experiences and memories of refugees through the music and its poetry. It focuses on peoples' experience across different continents around the world, to explore the fundamental human experience of forced migration and exile. To help understand the conditions and trauma of life without a home, and what it means for our identities. Weaving together the different characters and stories, the film provides a timely discussion of how music can connect us to each other and to our common humanity.

How does the project meet the aims of a philanthropic foundation?

This project seeks philanthropic support as it is driven by the need to communicate contemporary refugee experience and to document the intergenerational and historical legacies of forced migration. The film aims to provide a deeper insight into the lived experiences and ongoing trauma of cultural dispossession, and the histories of migration in Australia, Europe and the US. it is a universal story of what it means to belong. Further, the film aims to provide Australian and international audiences with the many diverse refugee histories, and what it means to be human. My fundraising efforts so far have been diverse: I have used personal income and resources, and I am seeking support from the community including the Greek Diaspora in Australia and internationally, and educational funding bodies in Australia and around the world.
Aims & Objectives

What outcomes do you hope to achieve by making this film and how will you measure its impact?

Aims:This film provides an urgent and timely discussion of what makes us human. Over 1 million refugees arrived into Greece from the Smyrna disaster in 1922 and since 2015, over 1.5 million refugees have arrived into Greece from Syria and other Middle East countries. This film will directly address the unprecedented number of displaced people across the world through the Greek case example. This film looks at the often intangible and everyday experience of refugees through music. By doing this, the film seeks to document what is often left out of official history and bring to light migration and refugee stories through the music. It will provide a humane perspective on the refugee crisis as it is experienced in Europe and around the world, it will examine the implications for a more humane response to the migrant crisis in a worldwide context. Throughout this film, I seek address the saturation of media images that de- humanise refugee experience. By looking at refugee experience through music, I look at what the universality of peoples' experience, and our common humanity. 

 Measuring Impact: The film's impact will be measured by its distribution around the world: through international and national film festivals, international and local broadcasters, schools, universities, libraries and museums. As experienced with my first film Dogs of Democracy, the impact can be measured by the ongoing distribution, and circulation of the film well beyond its release date, and this film like Dogs of Democracy touches upon key social justice and human rights issues around the world.We aim to engage audiences in conversation through traditional and social media outlets, and to open out a more humane public dialogue around the experience of refugees to help promote different governmental and social policies as well as to raise the awareness of communities around the world. As a film maker and scholar based at UNSW Sydney, this film will be a key study text for a wealth of student courses, as well as University courses around Australia and the world. This film is located and connected to the University of New South Wales Grand Challenge on Refugees and Migrants. This Challenge is part of the University's 2025 strategy to address key social issues in the 21st century.

Public Dissemination: We will measure the impact through for different media outlets: social media through online metrics, and the traditional media can be measured through reviews, endorsements, interviews and reports on the film.


What is your education and outreach strategy?

As part of the audience engagement and social impact of this film, I will establish a detailed study kit and organise lecture tours to discuss the issues around refugees at different University and public forums around the world. I have close contacts to different university institutions in the US, UK, Europe and Australia through my film Dogs of Democracy, as well as my academic profile and relationships. I will organise in conjunction with my distributors for screenings in the US, UK Australia and Europe as well as community screenings for refugee communities, for example, at City Plaza — which is hotel space that has been dedicated to the care of refugee in Athens.I will be applying to be part of the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival Pitching Forum in 2019, and Hot Docs Forum 2019 together with my producer, Tom Zubrycki. We aim to present the film to potential investors at the International documentary Festival in Australia in March 2019. We will be presenting the film to potential investors — sales agents, broadcasters or other pathways to investment. To make up the budget, the remainder of the funds would come through a combination of Australian funding sources including Create NSW, Australian Research Council, Screen Australia’s Producer Fund, and the Offset. I have also applied for Chicken and egg accelerator lab for first and second time women directors to help support the film for up to 35,000 US, and the Sundance development fund for up to 40,000 US. It is expected this film should spark interest with distributors like Dogwoof, or TVF with whom the producer has strong relationships. Should one of these come on board they would assist in generating pre-sales from European broadcasters like Arte or France 0.
Tom Zubrycki
Total budget
75 Minutes