New Film Documents Commons-Based Peer Production in Greece

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As one of the countries hardest hit by austerity politics, Greece is also in the vanguard of experimentation to find ways beyond the crisis.  Now there is a documentary film about the growth of commons-based peer production in Greece, directed by Ilias Marmaras. “Knowledge as a common good: communities of production and sharing in Greece” is a low-budget, high-insight survey of innovative projects such as FabLab Athens, Greek hackerspaces, Frown, an organization that hosts all sorts of maker workshops and presentations, and other projects.

A beta-version website Common Knowledge, devoted to “communities of production and sharing in Greece,” explains the motivation behind the film:

“Greece is going through the sixth year of recession. Austerity policies imposed by IMF, ECB and the Greek political pro-memorandum regimes, foster an unprecedented crisis in economy, social life, politics and culture. In the previous two decades the enforcement of the neoliberal politics to the country resulted in the disintegration of the existed social networks, leaving society unprepared to face the upcoming situation.

During the last years, while large parts of the social fabric have been expelled from the state and private economy, through the social movements which emerge in the middle of the crisis, formations of physical and digital networks have appeared not only in official political and finance circles, but also as grassroots forms of coexistence, solidarity and innovation. People have come together, experimenting in unconventional ways of collaboration and bundling their activities in different physical and digital networks. They seek answers to problems caused by the crisis, but they are also concerned about issues due the new technical composition of the world. In doing so they produce and share knowledge.”

George Papanikolaou of the P2P Foundation in Greece describes how peer production is fundamentally altering labor practices and offering hope:  “For the first time, we are witnessing groups of producers having the chance to meet up outside the traditional frameworks – like that of a corporation, or state organization.  People are taking initiatives to form groups in order to produce goods that belong in the commons sphere.”

The film features a wide variety of commons-based experiments that are making a difference in people’s lives — for example, Project Aktina, a solar energy pavilion in a public space that allows people to use free electricity for charging one’s laptop or phone, provide shareable electric bicycles, develop a free wifi network or host neighborhood events.

Vasilis Kostakis of the P2P Lab and Foundation in Greece introduces the film in this way:

“The free/open source software and design communities; the hackerspaces and the do-it-yourself enthusiasts; the movements for an independent Internet; the initiatives for free/communal wifi and open access to knowledge; the resilient/permaculture communities… What do all these have in common? Are they unrelated cases or coincidences? Or could they be seen as seeds of a new civilization full of contradictions and chances for renaissance and change? This documentary — a low-budget yet sublime production — narrates the story of several Greek-based, knowledge-oriented communities that are building the world they want, within the confines of the fragmented world they want to transcend.”

You can watch the trailer for the film here  — and the full film here. The audio is in Greek, but you can activate English subtitles by hitting the “CC” button at the bottom of the YouTube player. The filmmakers would like to produce a version with Spanish subtitles, so if you know of a skilled Greek-to-Spanish translator, get in touch with director Ilias Marmaras at mbholgr(at)gmail.com.

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