Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
Photo: Guy Smallman
Into the Fire is an important film. As the UK media and government teach the population to hate and mistrust immigrants and asylum seekers, this film takes a look at the situation in Greece and tells a story that is not inconceivable here. The initial backlash against the Woolwich murder in June should serve as a bleak reminder of the possibility of a sudden surge in racism.
Austerity holds Greece in a gruesome stranglehold. Predictably, at a time of crisis, a polarisation takes place. Readers of this magazine will be familiar with the basic story of the rise of the left coalition Syriza and that of the fascist party Golden Dawn, the two sides of this huge rise in political stakes. Rather than focus on the characters involved in the different sides of politics, Into the Fire looks at the plight of those on the receiving end.
As the EU’s south-eastern corner, Greece is an obvious destination for many fleeing from conflict, economic hardship and human rights abuses outside its borders. Yet these refugees often find themselves in a similar, or sometimes even worse, predicament. Thanks to the EU’s restriction on asylum seekers moving country within the Union, many find themselves trapped in Greece. This restriction, the Dublin II Regulation, was drawn up in February 2003 with the declared intention of stopping EU countries ‘offloading’ asylum seekers onto one another.
It is a classic example of legislation intended to achieve one thing but actually hitting the most vulnerable in society. It means anyone seeking asylum in the EU must do so in the first country they arrive in. Yet the situation is so bad in Greece that the UK is no longer returning asylum seekers who arrive here via that country. As one refugee says to the camera in the film, ‘let us leave Greece’ is the simple wish of many of these people.
Although Into the Fire makes for uncomfortable viewing at times, it is not just full of despair. The fledgling anti-Golden Dawn movement is getting itself organised and onto the streets. Dimitris Katsaris, a lawyer representing anti-fascists, puts things succinctly. He issues a call to arms and declares ‘Fear is not an option’ – a necessary maxim for anti-fascists the world over. There are familiar traits on show in Greece: sympathy, if not pre-meditated collusion, between police and Golden Dawn; an asylum process that is intentionally intransigent and hostile to the people it is meant to serve; and inflammatory language used to scapegoat migrants for the economic woes of society.
The film is not highly polished or slickly edited; obliquely that’s a strength. This is a film made by video activists, and makes up for technical rough edges with a passion that shines through in every scene. That same passion has featured throughout the making and distribution of the film. Funded by donations, shot on a shoestring and edited on home computers, it is a testament to determination and dedication.
The distribution of the film is also notable. There have been a number of public screenings that have attracted good audiences. The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has organised three such screenings in the UK – in a café, a university and a barristers’ chambers – all with excellent discussions afterwards. Many other groups across Europe are putting on similar screenings and most are being well received.
But the remarkable thing about Into the Fire is the online reception it has received. The film-makers organised a synchronised launch on a number of different websites, through YouTube and Vimeo. In the first two months, the film had just under 100,000 views – an extraordinary figure for a 40-minute documentary made with no budget for filming, let alone promotion.
This is a film made for the movement by a small part of that movement. It is shocking, it is unsettling, but it is essential viewing.
Into the Fire has been released under a Creative Commons licence and is free to show in any non-commerical setting. Watch it online or find out more about organising a showing at www.intothefire.org
Corbyn just won a prize for peace activism - so why is the Labour Party still committed to renewing trident? Lily Sheehan investigates.
Connor Devine writes that whilst Brexit might be a car crash, we can't just side with an institution responsible for enforcing austerity.
Michael Coates reviews a new film revealing the shocking state of housing inequality in the UK.
The vicious media campaign against trans people is part bigotry, part strategy, writes Roz Kaveney
Jon Trickett MP reports on 'Dickensian' levels of poverty and hardship felt across the UK.
Natasha King busts some myths around the No Borders debate
He was once a radical icon, but now he's a mouthpiece for racism and nationalism. Time to get off stage, writes Michael Calderbank
Consensus seems to have shifted, but austerity is far from over. The chancellor has committed us to yet more years of misery while the rich get richer, writes Richard Seymour.
Frustrated at the idea of another royal wedding? You're not alone. Joana Ramiro argues we should stop idealising a fundamentally undemocratic institution.
Liberal elites are using Russian interference to minimise their own political failures, writes Matt Turner
Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.
Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu
Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism
Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists
Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson
As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win
The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution
Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.
‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition
#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny