4.1 Miles (2016)

4.1 Miles (2016) – Amazing Film Nominated for the Best Short Documentary Oscar

A coast guard captain on a small Greek island is suddenly charged with saving thousands of refugees from drowning at sea. Documentaries usually cover material that is lesser known, from the dark places in society that most are unaware of. It’s a way of helping people better understand a situation (generally) or elicit some sort of awareness previously not widely held (at least for my ratings). But I think everyone understands how bad this situation is. In fact, this is a crisis in many countries around the world. I didn’t feel any different. It didn’t change my views or thinking differently about the situation. I therefore see no immediate value in having watched it. As I’ve said before, the situation was awful. I am aware who these people are and the extent they went to escape. That has not changed. I would also speculate that “4.1 Miles” has garnered much of its attention because of the recent Oscar nomination. A nomination which likely is the result of being politically relevant.

The Greek Coast Guard, especially when I was there, has been completely unprepared to deal with the constant flow of rescues necessary to save refugees from drowning as they attempt to cross to Europe from Turkey. When I was there filming, Lesbos had about 40 local coast guard officers, who before the refugee crisis generally spent their time conducting routine border patrols. Most didn’t have CPR training. Their vessels didn’t have thermal cameras or any equipment necessary for tremendous emergencies.

In making this film, I was struck by the fine lines that separate us, the moments when our paths cross fleetingly, and we look at one another for the first time and sometimes for the last. This film shows that crucial moment between life and death, where regardless of political beliefs, fears or preparation, some people will go beyond themselves to save a stranger.

Daphne Matziaraki is a Greek documentary filmmaker who lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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