For the film project Unearthing Disaster (2013-2015) Angela Melitopoulos and Angela Olga Andersen began recording, in 2013, the environmental, social and psychological damage to the region of Skouries
in northeastern Greece by the operation of a Canadian gold mine (sold by the Greek government for next to nothing) located in a pristine forest in
the Halkidiki area. Economically the region largely depends on tourism, fishing, farming and beekeeping and the mine has come to violently threaten the biodiversity and ecosystem of the magnificent natural
landscape. The film shows the gradual but massive destruction of the site, the clashes of activists with the police and with those who have chosen to work in the mines, highlighting the various conflicting
interests. The focus is on the residents of the area who fear that the short-term economic benefits of gold mining will destroy their livelihood, as well as their clean water supply. Minerals have been
mined there for years, but only on a small scale and without any environmental risk. As a consequence of the large-scale open pit mining, conducted by the Canadian company Eldorado Gold, the region’s river
system and its sources will be turned into a toxic waste tank. The locals are determined to protect their environment. In 2012 they began a citizen movement and demonstrated against the expanding open pit mining projects, which was filmed by the artists in 2013. In 2015 they again returned to the region to film, showing the continuing onslaught
on the idyllic countryside, which by now has turned into an unrecognisable barren desert, where a total of 300 hectares of pristine forest have already been cut down. The site has become a contested
area for a heated debate pitting the forces of neoliberalism and capital against those of citizen groups and environmentalists, between the arguments for jobs and “development” versus the arguments for
the environment and sustainability. The new Syriza government has vowed to stop the expansion of the mine whose sale was part of a drive to secure money for state coffers through privatisation in order to
meet Greece’s creditors’ demands. The outcome is as yet uncertain but the film provides a strong reminder of the optimism of the will in action.