Silent Witness

Koutsiabasakos Dimitris

Greece, 2016





Thirst for Knowledge


Cultural Heritage

Collective Memory


Third Grade of High School: Literature, History (Chapter F2)

Second Grade of High School: Computer Education (Chapters 10 & 11)


00:45:00 - 00:51:00



Proposed Questionnaire

  1. General Discussion

Observe closely the poster of the documentary and start brainstorming!

-What are your conclusions on the documentary’s subject matter? In your opinion, what is the main theme?

-Who are the main characters and what do you think their relationship is?

  1. Characters

-What is the mission that Alkiviadis Zabakas has undertaken during his sentence? How did he manage to complete it?

-Alkiviadis Zabakas refers to the prisoners’ education. What is the importance of education in times of confinement?

-What do you gather from the information on the relationship between inmates under these circumstances?

-The hero found himself returning to the prison yard. Is this place familiar to him? How can we tell he has been there before?

-Why did he decided to return to this place on that given moment?

-His feelings seem to be mixed. Start by specifying them and try to refer to the choices the director makes in capturing them.

-Give a brief portrait of the hero in five words.

  1. Film Language

-Documentary techniques vary (archival material, interviews, graphs, etc.). Which method does the director follow in this specific scene and why? If you had the chance to re-shoot this film clip, which of the techniques mentioned above would you add?

-What are the differences and similarities between the clip you have just watched and the interviews that are usually shown in international media, focusing on famous people (celebrities, politicians, etc.)?

-How is the hero framed in the beginning of the film clip and which information does he bring into the film plot (emotional climax, alternation of time and space, etc.)

-How many shots can we see in this specific scene and what kind of shots are they (refer to: Glossary/Shot)?


  1. Historical and Social Context

-The documentary refers to the building that housed the prison and to its intertemporal use. Which historical period does this specific excerpt focus on?

-What kind of information do we gather on the social reality of the era? Which distinctive elements of the period of the military Junta are mentioned in Zabakas’ narration?

-The building that was formerly a prison houses today the Research Center “Vassilis Tsitsanis”: on the ground floor there is an exhibition of the remains of the Ottoman Bath that was revealed during the Center’s rennovation, and on the first floor there is an exhibition od archival material and other personal belongings of Vassilis Tsitsanis ( In addition, the Bath hall contains showcases with objects (tools, keys, etc.) that refer to the period when the building was a prison. However, historians and researchers claim that the history of the prison could have been more prominent in this exhibition.

-In your opinion, what is the importance of creating a wing in the new buiding that can be dedicated to the history of this prison? What shape can it take? Give your museological suggestions!

-On the occasion of this previous discussion think of the following question: Which buildings do we choose to preserve and which ones do we bring down while destroying our historical memory at the same time?



(Step 1)


Association: Second Grade of Senior High School, Composition, Presentation/Reviewing

Read the following reviews and fill out the table according to each column’s topic.

The film is striking. Dimitris Koutsiabasakos’ camera, accompanied by the wonderful music score by Vangelis Fabas, manages to capture in a magical dialogue the moments from the “life” of the Prison, observing the times and the passing events, following the memories and the feelings. While the spectator normally moves between sorrow and affection towards satisfaction of the final “demolition of a Prison,” at that point, a sudden and unexpected finding brings to light the unknown past of the monument and raises a crucial question: how one ought to cope with the historical memory? Do we have the right to permanently erase the past? (Eleni Lintzaropoulou, Fractal,

This ingenious film director invades with his camera to the desolated space of the prison, along with his special “guests,” who they might be sighting the building for the last time – but definitely not for the first time: three past inmates, a retired prison officer, the former director of the prison, a female professor in a school for adults, along with a female investigator, all of them in a state of recall. Personal life stories, memories, life-time experiences. They present the prison itself through their narrations, and at the same time, the country’s recent history unfolds before the eyes of the audience. In a humorous, honest, authentic and respectful way, the audience enters the prison cells with them, and opens a discussion with the prison itself and with whatever it represents for society as a whole. (Myrto Hatzina, Crime Times,

Through his disctinctive use of the dipole comicality and sorrow, Koutsiabasakos pays attention to the stories (always without a clear commentary), along with the help of the historian who participates in this venture, Ms. Maroula Kliafa, he integrates them in the historical context, and then… he deconstructs them, offering a chance for a fertile thinking on the issue of the handling of the historical memory, using moments of unforced ordinary people’s humor. (Tatiana Kapodistria, To Spirto,

For me, this certain film forms an alternative kind of a museum, in fact, it holds all the elements that a good museum ought to carry… It holds…

… Authenticity and documentational value through the systematic mapping and illustration of all the prison spaces and all the mobile “findings” – the objects that comprise its material inventory.

… Directness, liveliness, honesty, and truth that have been gradually built up and constructed through the narrations of the seven individuals, which reflect the different voices of the prison and the life experience inside it.

… Emotional diversity, through which the complex network of relationships that evolves inside the human habitat of the prison (but also that of the broader society and its citizens who have been in a compulsory everyday dialogue with the prison) is interwoven. We have to keep in mind that the prison of the city of Trikala, as an embellished building nowadays, which the municipal authorities of the city vision to run as a cultural center or a museum, it is located right in the center of the city.

… The film expresses in its own distinct way the thing we ought to remember and follow in our own lives, in our everyday life and of course in our museums – which are memory spaces, but also places of vibrant contemporary discourse – that is, “giving prominence to diversity makes the difference.” (Marlen Mouliou, Museologist, )


(Step 2)

Plus and Minus

Write your own review and give your rating.

Don’t be strict! Don’t forget that each month, the best review will be posted on EUFORIA’s page on facebook.










Plus Minus


Memory vs. Oblivion

Association: Art Education, Literature, History, Ancient Greek

In 2006, the prison in the city of Trikala is demolished after 110 years of use. In this documentary we follow seven individuals who lived there as they return and unbury from their long or short sentence personal memories as well as views of modern Greek history. Take the following steps and discover the importance of cultural heritage.

Step 1

Brainstorm around the following question: What is the meaning of cultural heritage? Gather on the following table all the definitions that will come up.

Step 2

Cultural Heritage is divided into two categories: material/tangible cultural heritage and intangible cultural heritage. Material heritage includes immovable cultural heritage  (archaeological sites, monuments, etc.) and movable cultural heritage (museum exhibits, collections etc.), whereas intangible heritage refers to myths, traditions, values and customs, music, dances, etc., which were inherited by previous generations.

Taking into account the definitions above and the pictures (see Appendix I), fill in the following table.

Movable Heritage Immovable Heritage Intangible Heritage
Dipylon Amphora
The Ugly Ducking, H.C. Andersen

                        Göbekli Tepe

Guernica, Picasso
Mount Everest
Erotokritos, Vincenzos Kornaros
The Gardens of Versailles
Easter Island
Coin from the Hellenistic Era
Kritiou Pais
Polka Dance
Great Pyramid of Giza
Taj Mahal
Requiem Mozart
Roman Fountain
Berlin Wall
Haling Dance
One Thousand and One Nights

Step 3

The place where the prison is located has a long history and had different functions in each time period. Last year there was the inauguration of a museum dedicated to the great composer Vassilis Tsitsanis on the same location. The museological team tried to include in the exhibition traces of the past that refer both to material and immaterial cultural heritage.

3.1 Split into 3 groups BATH/PRISON/MUSEUM that correspond to the respective stages of use. Collect pictures (see Appendix I) that have representations of elements that might interest your team. Take a close look at the pictures and note the information you gather for each use on the following table:


CONSTRUCTION (material, color, damage, etc.)
FUNCTION (religious/military, commercial, social centre)
VALUE (functional, financial, emotional)
Which category (material or immaterial cultural heritage) do the represented elements relate to?


CONSTRUCTION (material, color, damage, etc.)
FUNCTION (religious/military, commercial, social centre)
VALUE (functional, financial, emotional)
Which category (material or immaterial cultural heritage) do the represented elements relate to?


CONSTRUCTION (material, color, damage, etc.)
FUNCTION (religious/military, commercial, social centre)
VALUE (functional, financial, emotional)
Which category (material or immaterial cultural heritage) do the represented elements relate to?

3.2. Making use of the data you collected before, create your own timeline (as demonstrated in the example in appendix ΙΙΙ). After scanning and saving the pictures you used in the previous activity, visit the page

and create your timeline in 5 easy steps.

Step 1 Give a name to the project and press START.

Step 2 Press on the broken line and fill in the table with all the necessary data (label, short description, long description, eg. prison construction 1895).

Step 3. Choose the picture that corresponds to each time stage from the saved picture gallery.

Step 4  Conclude the procedure by pressing FINISH.

Step 5 Save in a pdf format by pressing the button SAVE FINAL


Hang a large piece of cardboard on one of the classroom walls and create your own timeline, by placing the pictures in the right position


Activity No 4


Association: Third Grade of Senior High School, Art Education & Composition: Monuments/Culture

Prepare for your own documentary film! Choose a place of your preference (monument, building, etc.) that you consider important for local history.

Your goal is to create a short documentary (approx.10 min.) through which you will research the use of space across different periods in time, you will capture the changes this building has gone through and the different uses it served, but most importantly their holdovers (for example, are there marks that point at these former uses?).




You will have to:

1  Do good research: Ask your friends and family to narrate what their own recollections of this place and/or look for information on the web and collect pictures or videos that refer to your subject matter

2 Choose from the array of documentary techniques (archical material, interviews, narration, observation, graphs) the ones you consider appropriate for your mission.

3 Make a final selection of four (4) individuals who remember or have personal experience of the different uses of this place: ask them to give you an interview and grant you access to archival material that might flesh out your story.

4 Create a questionnaire with brief and concrete questions that you can address to the people you will interview. For example: What is your name? Where do you come from? Do you live in this neighborhood for a long time?How did this particular place look like before? Is it used in the same way today? What place did it hold in your own everyday life? How did you use this place in the past and how do you use it today? Do you remember any weird incident that is connected to this space?

5  Create a film crew, where each member will take on specific roles in each shooting: director, caretaker, interviewer, camera operator, sound technician. Make sure that the team is diverse, so that each member of the team takes on all different roles in rotation.

6 Select the locations where each interview will take place.


The secret of success consists in:

  1. Careful Planning. Make sure that during the shooting each person knows his/her responsibilities.
  2. Adequate logistics. A video camera or a DSLR camera or a mobile phone on a tripd usually achieve excellent results. If the sound that is recorded by the build-in microphone is not satisfactory and you cannot afford a more specialized gadget (zoom or boom), you can use your cell phone to record sound. However, don’t forget to wear headphones, so that you can have better control of what you hear!
  3. The friendly and intimate environment that you have to create during an interview:

– Be a good listener: Give your interlocutor the time to gather his/her thoughts and works without interrupting him/her. You can use non-verbal communication tools to encourage him/her to continue.

– Make him/her feel comfortable. Don’t put any pressure on him and don’t jump from one topic to another.

-Respect his/her feelings, especially if the matter is sensitive and brings him/her sadness.

Turn on your camera, lights, camera, action!

  1. Post-Production
  2. Classify the material you have collected during the different research and production stages according to different documentary tools and methods (archival material, interviews, narrative, observation/fly-on-the-wall, graphs)
  3. Watch the film footage you have gathered, select the most useful parts and save them as separate files, eg. “Yannis Vassileiou interview.”
  4. Feel free to creatively assemble your material (eg. choose photos from the archival material and combine them with specific passages from the interviews.
  5. After consulting with your IT teacher, use the following open-source software for editing.

VideoLAN Movie Creator
VideoPad Video Editor Basic
Movie Maker




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