Naeem Mohaiemen calls his film Tripoli Cancelled (2017) ‘a fable of a man who lives in the airport’. It follows the man’s movements for a week, in a limbo state he has occupied for a decade.
The film was written, shot, and largely improvised with Greek-Iranian actor Vassilis Koukalani in Athens’s abandoned Ellinikon airport. Built as a symbol of Greece’s modern cosmopolitanism in the late 1960s, Ellinikon has become a dilapidated wasteland representing the current state of a nation devastated by financial and humanitarian crises. A year after the film was shot, it would be transformed into Greece’s largest temporary refugee shelter.
For Mohaiemen, the film sits ‘adjacent’ to the migration crisis. It is loosely based on the experience of his father who in 1977 lost his passport while transiting through Ellinikon to Tripoli. He was stuck in the terminal for nine days as Greek authorities verified his nationality and allowed him to return to Bangladesh.
Tripoli Cancelled was commissioned for Documenta 14, and first screened in Athens. It is a part of the exhibition Terminal.
95min | Screens daily at 11.15am, 1.15pm, 3.15pm