Dog Years: A Refugee Story

CRAFT Theatre are making a feature length documentary about humanity - with a focus on the Refugee crisis in Europe.

We did it!

On 14th Jul 2016 we successfully raised £610 with 20 supporters in 42 days

About the Project

CRAFT Theatre are making a feature length documentary about humanity - with a focus on the Refugee crisis in Europe. 

Our Inspiration

According to the BBC "more than a million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe in 2015, compared with just 280,000 the year before. The scale of the crisis continues, with more than 135,000 people arriving in the first two months of 2016."

In April; at the time of filming, Greece alone was host to 58,000 refugees, predominantly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq where they are fleeing war, rebel armies, foreign occupation, shelling, constant danger and massive destabilization of their lives, homes, jobs and socio-political structures. 

As pressure continues to mount, the situation is changing daily. Borders are closed,  refugee camps are being shut down and those refugees are being relocated to detention centres where the Greek authorities struggle to cope with the number of applications for asylum.

An extortinate number of human lives are being held in limbo, stuck at borders, waiting on papers, living with no sense of the future or control over their choices. Children, the elderly, paraplegics, the disabled and men and women of all colours and creed stand in eight hour food queues while politicians try to find a balance between humanity and the economy. NATO patrols. Needless death. Careless death. Where is the humanity? 

We went to find it, and we're excited to show you. 


"Everyday you can experience the full

range of human emotion,

every day is like seven days...

it's like dog years out here..." From 'Dog Years' 2016 


In a place you would expect humanity to be hard to find, we have been moved and shaken to see it prevailing in every aspect of life there. 

The relationships between volunteers and refugees as they build shelters, kitchens, sanitation, and schools with the Idomeni Cultural Centre. The smiles on the faces of children - who represented 40% of the population who inhabited the recently closed camp, Idomeni. Their interest in us, their connection, and their urgent excitment to play with us, include us, clamber on our bodies and teach us their games. 

We spoke to a man who digs graves for the bodies of refugees in Lesvos - and when we asked him about numbers, he responded with specifics; remembering and honouring each person he had put in the ground.

In the sacrifices people have made to aid those in desperate need. There is a sense of solidarity and hope that we found unexpected; laughter, music, generosity and playfulness. Even within the most basic, over-crowded and seemingly impossible conditions, we did not find people who were out for themselves, but whole communities trying to do the best they can to live, and live fully - in safety. 

Whilst our team were filming in Idomeni back in April - a young refugee boy wrote something in Farsi on our Directors arm. The Director joked to the child that he hoped it wasn't something rude. The boy had written: 'Stand for someone who makes you smile'.

The wisdom we have found in the young and the vulnerable as well as the diligence and dedication at all levels to try and resolve this crisis spurs us on to deliver a film that will be truly remarkable. We have every faith in this project, and in the importance of information, access, and a focus on humanity in a time of divisiveness and global unrest. We will give you the chance to meet human beings, to connect with their stories, and to hear from a range of experts in the field. To help you form your own opinions and inform debates on what can be done. We need to question what kind of world we want to create for the next generation, and what legacy we want to leave behind as we deal with the incredible difficulties we are faced with as a Global community. 

What We've Got:

With initial funding from the Greenbelt Trust, we have spent time on the Greek island of Lesvos at the Idomeni Camp (on the border of Greece and Macedonia) and have filmed at the docks of Piraeus. We have gathered rare footage and interviews with Boris Cheshirkov of UNHCR, representatives of MSF, the Bomberos (a dedicated team of Spanish firefighters), the Mayor of Mytilene, independant volunteers, and those working with the likes of ERCI, Kara Tepe Camp and the 'Better Days for Moria' transition camp. We have filmed the arrival of Pope Francis in Lesvos and interviewed locals in the North (Molyvos, Lesvos) who have given over their homes, businesses and livelihoods to help as the crisis unfolds on their doorstep. We have footage from inside Moria Detention Camp - representing a contentious shift in the way that refugees are held - with high-level security and overcrowded conditions. 

And of course, we were privileged to meet and talk to many refugees, alone and/or without resources, people with resilience and heart, who wanted to help those around them and who expressed such gratitude for the little support they were receiving, while still incredibly frustrated at the turn their lives had taken.

Why We Need Your Help 

In the week beginning 23rd May 2016, Idomeni was evacuated by the state and military police, in order to move the refugees into Goverment operated camps. Water was cut off to ween everyone out, volunteers and major organisations as well as crucial medical staff were told to leave, if not - they were arrested. Idomeni is now a deserted expanse of land strewn with old ripped tents, shoes, clothing, food still on stoves and the remnants of everything else that was being built there. 

We need to get back over to Greece and continue filming; to shed light on this new situation, to help find some of the people we knew and to follow them as this story unfolds.

-The UNHCR and MSF have expressed concern that the conditions in Idomeni, though bleak, were more favourable than in the new Goverment-run camps.

-We will have the chance to follow the volunteers who are setting up support from scratch in new locations and to spend time with The Hellenic Red Cross and MSF as they negotiate the changes. 

-There is an incredible group called that we have arranged to meet, interview and support in any way we can. See here for their facebook page - - Their Story.

-We will have the chance to film at the EKO camp - an offshoot of Idomeni where Police are still moving people as they attempt to close the site. 

-We need to conduct interviews in London and ensure the film is fully representative to all sides of the situation. 

-We need to complete the post-production of this documentary, including the edit and the purchasing of archival footage and music.

-We need to market and distribute Dog Years so that we can reach as wide an audience as possible. We are looking at festival entries. 

All of this costs money and that is where we must ask for your help and support. We will give whatever rewards we are able to - in order to say thank you for anything you give. This is not just for us - but for the thousands of humans who give their bodies, hearts and souls to support their fellow human in any crisis, and for those who are desperate for the world to hear and see them truthfully. We hope this is a chance for people here in the UK to support those who are stuck so that we all may hope for change. 

Who We Are

CRAFT Theatre are a British theatre company based in London and this is our first feature length documentary. If you'd like more detailed info on our upcoming shows, techniques and team members, please visit the CRAFT Theatre Website.  We aren't currently funded by any arts bodies and all of our fundraising is individual to our projects. We have only got this far because individuals or particular organisations have believed in our projects as much as we do - and because we deliver our aims. A lot of personal money, time, love and rigor has gone into creating relevant, high quality work centred around truth and humanity. CRAFT have been noted as truly on the brink of an entirely new way of creating, with a final result that is a "gut wrenching pummell to the core base, primal senses of human emotion"(Wetherall, Greg. Our current project, Dog Years, promises to be no different. 



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