Katerina Zacharia’s documentary “Blessings and Vows”, which follows an octogenarian villager from Mani committed to keeping her personal and village beliefs, traditions, and identity alive, has recently won several awards around the world.
The film, which has been screened at international festivals this past winter, won Best Documentary for December 2018 at the Festigious Film Festival. It also won the Best Documentary award at the Eurasia International Monthly Film Festival that same month.
Metaxia Anaplioti, the villager featured in the story, has kept a forty-nine-year-old vow to light a candle every day at the church of Hagioi Theodoroi in Vamvaka, Mani. Built in the eleventh century, the church carries its own long history and complex identity, which reflects that of the village itself.
Anaplioti’s vow, and the church’s history, are central to the questions of the documentary regarding traditions and memory. The forces which keep tradition and belief alive, and the importance of creating and remembering your own story, are the main themes of the film.
As Zacharia describes the film, “the preservation of the church across ten centuries sustains collective identity … for the villagers. A sense of historical continuity is sustained by memory, belief, imagination and narrative.”
This exploration of identity also earned “Blessings and Vows” the title of Finalist for Best Short Documentary for December 2018 at The Monthly Film Festival. Though it has racked up plenty of accolades, the film is not close to done with the festival circuit. It will be screened at plenty of upcoming film festivals in 2019, including the International Documentary Festival Ierapetra in August, where it will compete for Best Documentary.
Zacharia, the director of the acclaimed documentary, has spent her life dedicated to understanding the past and our connection to it. She works as a professor at the Department of Classics & Archaeology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
The PhD-holding academic recently won the President Fritz B. Burns Distinguished Teaching Award, the most prestigious award offered by Loyola Marymount.
The documentary is dedicated to the memory of the faith-filled villager Metaxia Anaplioti, who died in 2018. You can learn more about Katerina Zacharia on her own website. You can watch the trailer for “Blessings and Vows” above.