Mount Athos on a peninsula off the coast of Greece is one of Europe’s last remaining secrets. Access to women is strictly denied and in order to keep unwanted tourists out, visa are granted only to pilgrims and workers. The monastic republic attracts people who expect more than modern life can give them, men longing for a meaningful life.
In a filmic diary inspired by Philip Gröning’s “Into Great Silence“ (2005), three monks of Athos share their lives with the camera, for the first time ever. The underlying theme of the unique narrative is the path that each and everyone of us has to find and walk along in his or her life. „In order to be able to help others, we have to heal our own souls first“, is one of Father Galaktion’s messages to those who seek peace at Mount Athos.
Several plots draw the audience into the monastic world and confront them with their struggle, inviting the audience to contemplate the two key issues that leads them through their life: truly experience every moment and to treat others with respect. Three monks have granted access to their everday lives: Father Epiphanios came to the Holy Mountain as an 18-year-old novice and since then has brought the vineyard and the olive groves from the 10th century back to life. He is a gifted cook who is not at all aversed to the pleasures of the outer world. Father Galaktion, however, has chosen a humble and modest life in a small hut in the woods. As an eremite, he rarely seeks encounters with other people. The clarity of his thoughts is intriguing, as is the purity of his words. Father Loukianos is a novice to Mount Athos. At the end of his first year, he proudly receives his ordination to priesthood at one of the Holy Monasteries that rule over the fortunes and destiny of the 2.000 monks since 1.000 years.
Pictures from Athos are pictures with scarcity value, yet the German-Greek film team managed to obtain insight into the innermost realm of the monastic republic and was allowed to attend holy celebrations, processions and private prayers. It took three years and overcoming a lot of difficulties: usually journalists are not permitted to film on the Holy Mountain and both government and police do not tolerate any professional film equipment.
ATHOS presents an alternative to pilgrimage of the Road to Santiago: a 100 minute long journey to peace, light and mindfulness.