How to Tack Your Sailboat in a Sea of Hungry Males

in Thessaloniki Docs 2024

by Anastasios Dertilis

The award to a feature-length film in the program of “Greek Premieres” went to Tack directed by Vania Turner

Once upon a not-very-distant time there was a conservative patriarchal society where you could easily get away with foul play, especially of the sexual predatory kind. Rumors and news came from across the Atlantic about sexual scandals, harassment, and women fighting back for their dignity in court. But this sunny corner of the Mediterranean had its own unwritten rules and unspoken secrets. Men of power ruled, and women were meant to take satisfaction in anything they had achieved, all this of course under the condition they found a place under the bright sun to unfold their talents.

In 2020 this system of “understanding” was about to be shaken and eventually shattered by the acts of a single brave woman. Olympic Gold Medalist Sofia Bekatorou took the stand against the all-mighty Leadership of the Sailing Federation and dared to declare publicly and in full detail her rape by an official that took place some years ago when she was a young and aspiring athlete.

Society was at last shocked by the atrocity of the act, even more when it was revealed that a highly esteemed official of the Federation was the assailant. But, by Greek Law, it was past court time for her case, so it was dismissed. Nevertheless this act led to a tsunami of similar cases being uncovered, and furthermore to legal changes in favor of women victims.

Years passed under the sun, and society showed signs of forgetting and regressing. In this context, a new sexual scandal in the circles of the a/m Federation involving another young athlete, Amalia Provelengiou, exploded with the force of a bomb. At the time of the crime Amalia was only 12. The case went to court, Sofia Bekatorou was instantly involved after a letter from Amalia, and the rest is #MeToo History.

This is the story of a milestone trial that Vania Turner, with her feature film debut, decided to document as a social thriller, following both her heroines every step of the way to justice. This involved painful throwbacks, public lashes from the defendant’s lawyers, victim blaming, an almost unfriendly public opinion, and a slow moving, emotionally exhausting judicial system.

Vania Turner provides an exciting narrative full of hand-held, emotionally charged shots, plus great animation depicting moments of the trial behind the closed doors of the court. She shows a great talent not only at capturing the exact atmosphere of the period but also at creating a fascinating portrait of two women who know exactly how to tack their boat, sailing in a sea full of hungry, angry or totally indifferent males. In a very powerful sequence we watch a confrontation between Sofia Bekatorou and her aging father, concerning her past trauma, a sequence that gives the measure of injustice to women from a whole social system of ethics made by men for men. There and then, one gets to bow respectfully to the strength and emotional depth of this admirable woman who manages, along with her protégé, to go against all odds to prove their right for equal justice and the substantial punishment of sexual crimes.

Greece was never the same after Sofia Bekatorou’s struggle, and Amalia Provelengiou seems to take her strength directly from her, so that she can withstand all adversities and stand by her devastated parents as well. She proves even stronger than her predecessor, a real captain of her ship, sailing against a whole wave of victim-blaming and redemption for the guilty rapist.

Ultimately Tack is a compelling document of a huge shift in Greek society about these brave women who lead us through their personal nightmare to their ultimate triumph. What a ride!

And what a debut…

By Tasos Dertilis
Edited by Robert Horton