A Greek-Aussie: love writing, love the outdoors, love my 2 kids, love heavy metal and love life (usually!).
Published April 3rd 2013
I had the urge to see a film on this Saturday night. Not couch potato DVD style, but rather, in a proper cinema. I opted for a high rated 'Rotten Tomatoes' action flick 'End of Watch', showing at a cinema I'd never been to: The 'Oneiro' Community Cinema/Theatre. I got more than I bargained for in terms of an historical and cultural journey into this working class area.
After a train ride of a few stops past downtown Athens, and then a gentle ten minute stroll we arrived at Oneiro Cinema in the Western Suburb of Agios Ioannis Rentis. This suburb close to the port of Pireaus, is a former industrial area with factory buildings now derelict, empty and graffitied. 'Wow, these would make cool loft housing' my friend remarked. Given Greece's continuing recession though, this just ain't the case at this stage.
So the walk on the main road (Pireaus Ave) towards the cinema was in a gritty and treeless environ, until we turned into a side street, and then, everything became... quaint. OK, kind of real-estate speak quaint: In other words, funky. And in that I mean interesting, sweet, human - tender touches: Tiny, old cottage houses, whitewashed or pastel coloured, some no longer inhabited, but others yes. And the local council has helped by paving the streets and planting/maintaining trees (mainly palm trees). Aha. Palm trees usually mean Middle East, and in this case, Asia Minor I suspected.
The 'quaint' houses were indeed, actually refugee homes, many built by their owners, on land provided to them by the Greek Government in the late 1920's when 1.5 million Greeks were uprooted from their thousands of years home in Asia Minor (now Turkey). The ensuing industrial development of the area was related to this population influx.
Even within the park surrounded grounds of the cinema are well maintained remnants of machinery from the factories' operational days. And part of the actual cinema itself is in an old renovated Tannery factory (whose black and white photos feature on the walls of the cinema entrance). Apart from the interesting surrounds, tickets for movies here are half the price of other multiplex type cinema centres.