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‘Tack’ Takes Intimate and Powerful Journey Into Charges of Sexual Abuse That Sparked Greece’s #MeToo Movement

When two-time Olympic sailing champion Sofia Bekatorou revealed in 2020 that she had been raped by a senior member of the Greek sailing federation while competing for the national team, she inspired dozens of other women to break their silence, sparking the country’s #MeToo movement.

In her feature-length directorial debut, “Tack,” which premiered this week at the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, Greek-British filmmaker Vania Turner follows one such story: the shocking case of a younger sailor, Amalia Provelengiou, who alleged she’d been repeatedly abused and raped by her coach — beginning when she was only 12 years old.

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Those revelations and the ensuing trial are the focus of Turner’s urgent and moving documentary, which chronicles the systemic abuses committed by men in positions of power in Greece and the broader societal culture of denial that allows those abuses to continue. The film follows both Provelengiou’s search for justice and Bekatorou’s efforts to push for changes to the Greek penal code, whose statute of limitations prevents her from bringing charges against her own alleged rapist.

The director, a veteran video journalist who does her own camerawork in the film, was granted intimate access with the duo from the beginning. She first contacted Bekatorou shortly after the former Olympian had gone public with her allegations of abuse and was there when Provelengiou decided to come forward and take her own harrowing experience to trial.

Once that case began — the first of its kind in Greece’s #MeToo era — Turner admits that she had no idea what to expect. “These proceedings can go on for years,” she says. “We didn’t really know where this was going.”

“Tack,” which scooped five awards in Thessaloniki, not only examines how sexual abuse upended the lives of its two subjects, but explores the impact on their loved ones and the ways in which gender-based discrimination and sexual violence continue to affect millions of women in Greece.

For the trial of Provelengiou’s alleged abuser, the film uses animated, black-and-white court sketches made by Georgia Zachari, as well as audio transcripts, to recreate what took place inside the courtroom. It is a shocking glimpse of both the cultural and institutional biases stacked against a woman who decides to come forward with accusations of sexual assault in Greece, with one mother blaming Provelengiou for her horrifying ordeal and defense attorneys insisting that the then 12-year-old was “in love” with their client and a “sly fox” who set out to seduce him.

There are moments that are difficult to watch, and the director says she spent “countless hours” with her two subjects, “having conversations about where this is going, and trying to understand what they’re thinking, how they’re feeling, what they’re afraid of, what they’re hoping this film will be.” It was Provelengiou and Bekatorou, ultimately, who had final cut.

“It was about creating a safe space,” Turner says. “These are people who have endured sexual abuse, and so their boundaries have been violated. I didn’t want to do that with a camera. I was very, very conscious of that.”

For Provelengiou, who stayed silent about her abuse for more than a decade, Turner believes the camera was “like an ally,” functioning as a confessional in a way she describes as “therapeutic.” “In this situation, when you’re so alone and there’s someone there documenting it so that it doesn’t sort of fall into oblivion and get forgotten, that was really important,” she says.

Vania Turner
“Tack” is director Vania Turner’s feature-length debut.

The Thessaloniki premiere of “Tack” took place on the same day that an appellate court in Athens heard the case of Provelengiou’s abuser, who received a 13-year sentence for his crimes. Turner describes the scene as “intense” and “very emotional,” with Provelengiou flying from the capital to be a part of the premiere. The young sailor, she says, was overwhelmed by the response.

“People embraced her so much. I think she felt that support and solidarity,” says Turner. “When you go through this type of process, it often feels like you’re very much alone. The fact that people were clapping and cheering and emotional and furious, I think, really gave her the other side of the coin — not the world that you experience in the film. There’s another world out there, there’s people out there who believe her.”

Greece currently ranks last in the E.U.’s Gender Equality index, and Turner admits, “We have a long way to go.” While some critics maintain the country’s #MeToo movement stalled, and that few men in positions of power were ultimately held accountable for their actions, the director insists that tangible progress has been made.

“We started having these conversations. People started talking to their dads, to their moms, to their friends,” she says. “There is a sense of futility in all that darkness. But in that darkness, there are people who are fighting to get their lives back. Being believed is extremely important and getting justice is extremely important.

“There is light. There is so much that needs to be changed. The tools are there. We have the frameworks,” she continues. “It’s so difficult to go down this route. But if we can watch Amalia go through this and keep fighting, it’s her fight that we need to focus on and the importance of that.”

The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival runs March 7 – 17.

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