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’Kisses’ examines Greek response to Nazis

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A promotional image for Kisses to the Children, a documentary about Greek children during the Nazi era that was screened at Emerson October 28. (Photo by Nick Eaton '17)

Film director Vassilis Loules joined the Emerson community to discuss his documentary Kisses to the Children, which was shown at the Bright Family Screening Room on October 28.

The film, released in 2011, shares the stories of Greek-Jewish children who were sheltered and protected by Christian families during the mass murder of Jewish people in Europe during the Nazi era. 

Dr. Matthew Budd, psychoanalyst and former professor of medicine at Harvard, and Dusan Bjelic, criminology professor at the University of Southern Maine, led a discussion following the screening about the trauma faced by the child survivors featured in the film.

“We all know how horrible Nazi Germany was,” said Budd. “The most profound part of this movie that Vassilis was able to capture [was] the effects of trauma on a group of extraordinarily resilient people.”

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Film director Vassilis Loules and Dr. Matthew Budd discussing Kisses to the Children October 28 at the Paramount Center. (Photo by Nick Eaton '17)

Part of the film also included a chronology of the Nazi invasion of Greece, forcing many Greek Jews into exile and concentration camps.

According to Bjelic, the Nazi occupation occurred because of Europe’s history of treating Jews as less than Christians. The documentary’s focus was on the many children who were saved by brave Greek families during this period.

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Dusan Bjelic, criminology professor at the University of Southern Maine, participated in a panel discussion about Kisses to the Children at Emerson on October 28. (Photo by Nick Eaton '17)

Loules described the seven–year filmmaking process as quite a journey.

“It’s obvious that this filmmaking experience [led the survivors] to go deep into their past to re-experience all of this trauma,” he said.

Loules said that despite many years and hours spent in the editing room during the making of the film, the end result was well worth the time spent.

“I was in the editing room for four years. I used to spend 10 hours a day in there for four years,” he said, adding that it was a process he will never forget.

Kisses to the Children has won eight awards internationally and was screened at Emerson as part of the Onassis Foundation USA Seminars Program; the Onassis Foundation sponsored the event. It was organized by Emerson’s Writing, Literature and Publishing Department, in conjunction with Visual and Media Arts as part of the Bright Lights Series.

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