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04/30/2013

Love in the time of austerity: A Greek tragedy

(Warning: the above video clip contains graphic language.)

The consequences of severe austerity policies in Greece have caused an epic social crisis as the country battles sky high unemployment rates, violent riots, a rising homeless problem and climbing suicide rates.

But what has austerity done to the Greek heart?

BBC Newsnight's economics editor Paul Mason's production team in Greece, director Theopi Skarlatos and cameraman Kostas Kallergis are both trying to capture that story in a moving documentary called, "Love in the Time of Crisis."

The film will feature the stories of young lovers, elderly couples, women "choosing to walk unconventional paths" in order to pay the bills and "men forced to renegotiate their traditional roles in society," Skarlatos explains on his blog.

"Perhaps love seeks refuge in the unlikeliest of places. Perhaps love is even greater in the face of loss and hardship. On the streets of Athens there is a famous graffiti: "Love or Nothing" -- this film aims to tell the story of what happens to a society when that becomes, literally, the only choice," he wrote.

Skarlatos has been covering the Greek crisis since 2010 -- documenting the riots, strikes, the fall of government and the rise of the extreme right movement.

"But there is an element of the story that remains untold: what happens to love in the time of crisis? Does the heart beat differently when the world around us starts to fall apart?"

The statisticians aren't keeping track of the human toll of the Greek financial disaster. Many Greeks are now bemoaning the Greece that once was and are wondering if it will ever be again, he notes.

"This film will show how more and more people are choosing not to settle down or begin families. Women are having IVF treatment, but aborting their babies because they can no longer afford to have them. Relationships are being torn apart by stress. Prostitution is rising. Birth rates are decreasing," he writes.

The evolving love story Skarlatos and Kallergis are trying to tell, gives the world a glimpse of the painful stresses economic collapse can bring. The two are currently raising money for the project. Everything they get will go to production costs and paying the crew.

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Tanya Talaga is the Star's global economics reporter. Follow her on Twitter @tanyatalaga

 

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