From personal history to oral testimony documentary

Workshop Title: From Personal History to Oral Testimony Documentary

Animator: Vassilis Loules, director

Workshop Days: Tuesday 29 and Wednesday 30 October 2019

Duration: 8 hours

Hours: 17:00 – 21:00

It is addressed to a group of: 10 to 15 people

Venue: Cultural Center of Chania


Laboratory Description:

The Laboratory is experiential and has as its subject:

-oral testimony as the basic element for the creation of a contemporary Historical, Anthropological or Ethnographic documentary

-the special characteristics and power of oral history in film documentary

-some film applications in Education that are based on oral testimony and concern issues of History.

Emphasis is placed on "Filming oral history" and especially on the "Relationship of the director / researcher with the person who deposits experiences or tells stories in front of the cinematic lens".

IT IS ADDRESSED to teachers of all levels and specializations, to graduates and students of Social Sciences and Humanities (History, Social Anthropology, Ethnography, Psychology, Folklore, Archaeology, etc.), to students and professionals of cinema and theatre (directors, actors, technicians), to photographers, to those who deal with oral history, to storytellers and stories, as well as to people who want to get to know the contemporary anthropocentric documentary.

In order to attend the Workshop, no previous professional experience in the field of cinema is required. It only takes love for cinema and oral history, patience and curiosity.

The ANTHROPOCENTRIC DOCUMENTARY is perhaps the most up-and-coming kind of cinema in the world, which gives the floor to the unsung heroes of life, to ordinary people or illuminates the unseen side of the most prominent. Through their own experiential narratives, films can be made full of truth, emotion and humor, which move, entertain, educate while at the same time they trace everyday life, society, nature, history, etc.

Some QUESTIONS that will concern us:

— How do we help ordinary people to stand without fear in front of the camera and share with us their "trivial" personal stories honestly and immediacy?

— How do we film testimonies, narratives, fairy tales in a lively and attractive way? What are the secrets of this art?

— How can the personal testimony we record be scientifically reliable on the one hand and usable for research or artistic purposes on the other?

— How can we make anthropocentric documentary a valuable tool of the history lesson (and not only!) in education?

— How can we see, record or even teach the "great" History through the "small", personal stories of people?

— The observation of the "outside" world and empathy.

With film SCREENINGS and EXPERIENTIAL EXERCISES we will begin to detect the above questions.

The Workshop will draw on the experience of the director Vassilis Loules not only from teaching in the previous Chinese Workshops of Athens, Thessaloniki and other cities or in the summer schools (Vovousa, Monodendri, Pelion) but also the one he acquired by touring 40 well-known Universities of the USA and Canada, screening his films and discussing with the audience.

Participants will get to know methodological tools useful in their educational, research or artistic activities, while another key OBJECTIVE of the Workshop is the cultivation of another look on History and the experiences of the people who are its carriers.


Prerequisites for effective participation in the Laboratory

In order for our collaboration to be creative, it is advisable for those who are interested in taking part in the Workshop to do the following:

a) Have studied the present text.

b) To have been prepared for the way of approaching the subject having seen the links of the films in the Biographical animator, in the adjacent column.

c) To have with them a laptop, camera and camcorder (those who have one). Along with all peripherals (batteries, cables, cards, adapters, etc.) for loading, unloading materials to and from the computer.

d) Particularly welcome are those who have image and video editing programs installed on their computer (premiere, movie maker or their equivalents) and know how to handle them.

NOTE: It is not necessary for everyone to have all the above (c) and (d), but if you tell us what you can have with you we will take care of the rest so that everything goes well!

Animator's Biography

Vassilis Loules is a director of documentary and fiction films. He studied Electrical Engineering at the National Technical University of Athens and Cinema in Athens. He collaborated with the Film Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the documentation, classification and exploitation of old cinematic current affairs as well as with ERT in the program of production of short fiction films and historical documentaries.

His films were honored with awards, took part in many festivals abroad, were broadcasted by foreign and Greek television networks, were included in international tributes and are used as educational material in Universities.

He has been particularly involved in documentaries of personal narratives recording testimonies of people, in such a way that through these "small" stories the viewer can have a sense of the great, universal History. His works also cover topics in Ethnography, Social Anthropology and Industrial Archaeology.

His documentary "Kisses to the Children" (produced in 2012), about young children of Greek Jews who were saved during the German occupation thanks to the protection offered to them by Greek Christians, was screened in cinemas in Greece and, since 2014, is screened abroad (USA, Canada, Europe, Australia).

With this work, but also with the "I also passed by and had shoes made of paper / Noose / Meetings with my mother Lela Karagianni / A bright sun» often tours with screenings and discussions at Universities in the USA and Canada. Among the 40 or so Institutions are: HARVARD, COLUMBIA, YALE, STANFORD, MICHIGAN, PRINCETON, UCLA, U-PENN, DUKE, DARTMOUTH COLLEGE, SIMON FRASER, Mc GILL, STONY BROOK, INDIANA, U-CONNECTICUT, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT (LA), etc.

It carries out, on a regular basis, Film Workshops on topics such as: From personal testimony to great history, Archival evidence and human stories in documentary, Filming historical memory, Documentary as a tool in Education, Personal testimony and childhood in documentary films.

For their realization, it collaborates with Historical or Ethnographic Museums and Archives throughout the country, utilizing their own archives and collections as "laboratory material". It also collaborates with Universities and other cultural institutions.


FILMOGRAPHY (selection)

2016 I belong here (The Old Muslim Community of Rhodes) / documentary 47'

2015 On.Off / documentary 13'

2014 I also passed by and had shoes made of paper / documentary 91'

2014 Noose / documentary 12'

2012 Kisses to the children / documentary 115'

2012 In the mountain pastures / documentary 60'

2010 The olive press in Papados / documentary 30'

2005 Meetings with my mother Lela Karagianni / documentary 29'

2000 A bright sun / fiction 36'

1999 Eleusis, stories in the aftermath of the machines / documentary 30'

1996 Meteora-Pindos, travelogue / documentary 93'

1993 The American / fiction 39'

1990 Absent / fiction 15'

Samples from his films

Kisses to the children


Kisses to the children
(4 excerpts)


Meetings with my mother Lela Karagianni


I also passed by and had shoes made of paper


(full tape)


On mountain pastures
(full film)


Eleusis, stories in the aftermath of the machines


(full short film in 2 parts)



  • Master classes and workshops can accept specific numbers of people and will be on a first come, first served basis based on the registration form.
  • Participants will get a certificate of attendance


Register by clicking here!