Watch: Athens’ Decaying Olympic Village Is the Symbol of Greece’s Decline in ‘Park’


The shells of Olympic villages can be fraught relics among residents of the cities they momentarily alter with brief booms of tourism, money and international media coverage. In Rio, for example, there are plans to turn the just-vacated-by-athletes Olympic village — itself built alongside the not-long-ago-vacated land of many evicted working class residents of the semi-demolished favela around which it was built — into luxury condos. A new film — Park, which premieres at the Toronto International Film Festivallooks at what’s become of another Olympic Village: that of the Athens 2004 Summer Olympics.

The compound is a readymade bit of symbolism that’s particular in a few ways to Greece: in that those Olympics saw the global event returning to its provenance — and thereby being an odd reminder of the foundational influence of Greece (particularly on Western society, of course). Now, though, it’s largely another ruin, with the Guardian writing in 2014 that “the Games are now a source of anger as the country struggles through a six-year depression, record unemployment, homelessness and poverty, with many questioning how the nation has benefited from the multi-billion-dollar event.” Sofia Exarchou’s fictional film follows a group of teenagers in the village as they reenact the games and do some standard unchaperoned teenage things (and some not-so-standard ones) within the Village.

Exarchou said in a statement to Indiewire, who debuted the film’s trailer:

Through the intersecting stories of the kids of the Olympic Village, ‘Park’ tries to create the portrayal of a lost generation that has been deprived of its future. Among the abandoned sport facilities, the ruins and the new-money tourist resorts, the film crosses Greece’s ‘glorious’ past with the decadence of today, depicting a society unprepared for the brutal fall. In this remnant from the past, the kids’ need to belong is vital and their efforts increasingly violent and futile.