Next Stop: Utopia

When a factory closed down because of the crisis in Greece, a group of workers occupied it and ran it on their own, following the principles of absolute equality and direct democracy. The film follows the extraordinary adventure of these people, and their struggle against the law, state bureaucracy and their own limits.

Different political groups of the left in Greece and across the world immediately embrace the endeavour. At last here was an inspiring alternative example to the current crisis, maybe even the forerunner of a wave of factory occupations in Europe, following the “recovered factories” of the past decade in Argentina and Latin America. Their struggle to keep their factory working becomes an international symbol.

Self-­‐management, however, proves no easy task. After the excitement of the first days, when they enter the factory, to find “their working place” and service “their machines”, they have a bad surprise. Most of the stock of the existing raw material, they had confiscated in return for their owed wages, turns out to have already expired. In order to survive, they decide to produce entirely different goods: ecologically friendly soaps and cleaning products. They would be easy to finance and they could sell them to their supporters. Of course their know-­‐how is limited, and initiative has never been a part of their job requirements.

Despite all the difficulties, they manage to get production going. The solidarity network built up around their endeavor, allows them to sell their products and generate a small income. They have to learn everything starting from scratch: production, distribution, promotion, management…

On top of that come direct democracy, collective spirit and sense of responsibility. A period of development of new skills and personal fulfillment has begun. They realize that they have to radically change their way of being and thinking, if they want to reach their purpose. Some will accept it with enthusiasm; others may be reluctant to take the plunge.

“…The case itself is extreme; workers with no work experience outside the production line, driven by despair, decide to start a small revolution, just for a chance to win back their lives. They want to establish an island of utopia in a capitalist environment and of course they meet a thousand obstacles and conflicts at every level.

They are going against the law, the judicial authorities and the factory’s ex-owners, while they fight to gain some kind of legal status. There are conflicts within the group as well; practicing direct democracy among people with different attitudes, convictions and ideas can be very hard.
But what proves to be the hardest, is the inner conflicts each individual has to face as the times are calling for a deep personal transformation.

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These people in their fifties are forced to develop a new identity, one that will allow them to survive in dignity and withstand the sufferings of an «outrageous fortune». The giant shifts they have to perform can sometimes seem comic and tragic at the same time…”
– Apostolos Karakasis, director –
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