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MANA is a film about six girls who ran away from home to become single mothers!
139 backers pledged $46,117 to help bring this project to life.

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$46,117

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UPDATE: We made it!!!! Do we even need to tell you how grateful we are? OK we do. We are soooo grateful and we feel so embraced by this wonderful online community of backers who felt MANA was a project that simply had to get made. But wait! We still have more than 2 days to go, so here's what we're gonna do: help up reach $48.000 and everyone who has backed the project with $50 or more will receive an original MANA poster by Chris Pothitakis printed on premium quality paper! You can choose one of two designs below, let's make it happen! 

Hello and welcome to the MΑΝΑ Kickstarter campaign page! We’re here to introduce you to 4 extraordinary women who have raised over 300 children in the last 50 years. MANA is a feature documentary by women, about women, to empower women.

TELL ME MORE

It all started in 1962, when six best girlfriends, who had met in the schools and on the streets of Piraeus, decided to run away from home and join a convent. They were 20 years old, which might seem like a ripe old age now, but back then you couldn’t don a habit unless you had your parents’ consent or where over 21 - and the girls had neither. They were dragged back home and unceremoniously locked in their bedrooms, but there was no stopping them now! They escaped a total of three times and were forced to live in hiding for a total of three years. Their parents had recruited the police and even had the church issuing official statements forbidding the girls to walk through monastery doors. You see, they didn’t just want to become nuns. They wanted to start their own monastic order and raise other people’s children, which was the next best thing to becoming single mothers. And this was the only way they could make their dreams come true without society getting in the way.

Newspaper clipping of the girls' first arrest in 1962.
Newspaper clipping of the girls' first arrest in 1962.

It took them a few years, but the four surviving members of the most fierce gang in Greek Orthodox Church history, have gotten single motherhood down pat. Sisters Maria, Dorothea, Parthenia, and Kaliniki have been running the Lyrio Children’s Village for over forty years, sheltering abused and unwanted children, who all call them “Mana”. This is the title of the film documenting their tumultuous lives and the work they do, which we hope will empower women across the board. MANA is a story of devotion and believing in children, the future, and how family bonds don't require blood relations.

WHAT MAKES LYRIO DIFFERENT TO OTHER ORPHANAGES?

Contrary to other orphanages/foster homes, children are not required to leave once they turn 18. They can stay put until they can stand on their own two feet, and when they do move on, most of them keep in touch and make sure to help the nuns raise the next generation.

Perched up high on a mountain overlooking the Aegean Sea, it is structured like a miniature village with five “houses”, sheltering over 65 children. The nuns grow their own vegetables and the children are taught by in-house volunteers and even have a psychologist come in on a regular basis so teenagers can discuss matters that cannot be broached in the presence of their black-clad “mothers”. Founded in 1967, the Lyrio Children’s Village is one of longest-running institutions for abandoned children in the country and it’s safe to say it’s a world unto its own…

WHY DOES THIS FILM NEED TO GET MADE?

These accidental feminists aren’t interested in public relations and never have been. They don’t do TV shows and they don't have fundraising dinners, they just do the work. 

As shocking as this may sound, the Lyrio Children’s Village is not funded by the government or the church! It has only managed to survive through personal sacrifice and hard work, as the nuns made sure to take jobs before taking their vows, to ensure their dream would come true. They are ingenious and business savvy and they are more resilient than you could ever imagine. Word of mouth has been their staunchest supporter so far, and most of their donations come from people who take a sincere interest in what they do.

That’s why we feel MANA is a documentary that deserves to get made: it portrays a slice of Greek life that doesn’t make headlines because it’s not directly associated with the credit crunch and has no sensationalist potential. It’s about a handful of people channeling their spirituality in very practical, meaningful ways that make this world a better place.

WHO WE ARE

We're an all-girl team (OK, almost!) that met at the right place at the right time and decided to join forces on a project that pretty much says it all about how we feel about our place in the world. 

DIRECTOR / PRODUCER: Valerie Kontakos

Valerie was born and raised in NY, studied film at NYU and dived into documentary head-first when she met up with the inimitable David and Albert Maysles (Grey Gardens) 

Why should you trust her? Because she made "Who's on First?" (click to watch) and won a bunch of awards - and she can do it again!

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER: Despina Pavlaki

Despina studied Communication and Mass Media in Athens and Creative Documentary in Barcelona. She decided to stick to documentary when she realized reality is stranger than fiction.

Why should you trust her: Because prior to transitioning into documentary production she selected films for festivals in Greece and Cyprus and she knows a good story when she sees one!

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT: Elisabet Pujado

Elisabet studied audiovisual communications in Barcelona and is doing her internship at Exile Films.

Why should you trust her? Because she studied at Pompeu Fabra, one of the most prestigious educational institutions in her country, which could land her any internship she damn well pleased, but she chose to come to Exile Films in little old Greece instead. Girl is committed to the cause! 

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT: Eftychia Kousi

Eftychia is a social media whiz and an interpreter and subtitlist who finally saw the light and stepped on the other side of the mirror. 

Why should you trust her? Because she's a born and bred riot grrrrl and is so good at her new job, we believe she was a producer in a previous life!

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Pantelis Mantzanas

Pantelis is an ace DP with some outstanding titles to his name, including Syllas Tzoumerkas' "Homeland", which conquered festivals from Karlovy Vary to Venice.

Why should you trust him? Because he likes to wear pink, which means he's in touch with his feminine side, plus all the kids at Lyrio love him!

WANT TO BECOME PART OF THE MANA COMMUNITY?

You can follow our office life, movie progress and shooting anecdotes on Mana - The Documentary Facebook Page

Risks and challenges

We have been filming for the best part of two years and still have two months of shooting left before we call it a wrap. We need your support for editing and post-production, as well as taking this project to international pitching forums to make sure it catches the attention of global media and film festivals.

Here is a breakdown of how your money will be used:

-Hire an editor
-Sound edit
-Sound mix
-Color correction
-Design press kit & poster
-Hire a sales agent
-Pay for festival entry fees

If we don't raise the necessary funds to cover the above expenses, the film will get made, but it will take much longer to complete and will compromise our artistic vision of what MANA should be. Not to mention, it will minimize its potential to reach international audiences. In other words, it won't be the film we want to make.

By supporting this campaign, MANA will not only prove these women made the world bend to their will, but it will inspire countless others to follow their lead.

Thank you for your support!!!

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    Pledge US$ 10 or more About US$ 10

    A thank-you e-mail to show our gratitude!

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    A thank-you email + a digital download of the documentary.

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    A thank-you email + a digital download of the documentary + a prayer rope bracelet made by the nuns at Lyrio.

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    A thank-you email + a digital download of the documentary + a MANA poster, designed by Chris Pothitakis (choose 1 of 2 designs)

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    Pledge US$ 100 or more About US$ 100

    A thank-you email + a digital download of the documentary + a prayer rope bracelet made by the nuns at Lyrio + a DVD with an animated short by the children at Lyrio with animator Christina Depian, specially made for this campaign.

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    All of the above + a limited edition T-shirt designed by Mark Hajipateras.

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    All of the above + a private screening of the documentary for you and your friends.

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    All of the above + a visit to Lyrio (travel expenses not included).

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    All of the above+ lunch at Lyrio for 4 (travel expenses not included).

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    Pledge US$ 2,500 or more About US$ 2,500

    A thank-you email + a digital download of the documentary + a prayer rope bracelet made by the nuns at Lyrio + a DVD with an animated short by the children at Lyrio with animator Christina Depian, specially made for this campaign + a limited edition T-shirt designed by Mark Hajipateras + a sculpture made by Mark Hajipateras.

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    Pledge US$ 5,000 or more About US$ 5,000

    A thank-you email + a digital download of the documentary + a prayer rope bracelet made by the nuns at Lyrio + a DVD with an animated short by the children at Lyrio with animator Christina Depian, specially made for this campaign + a limited edition T-shirt designed by Mark Hajipateras + Associate Producer credit on the documentary + an invitation for two to the premiere (US, London or Greece).

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    A thank-you email + a digital download of the documentary + a prayer rope bracelet made by the nuns at Lyrio + a DVD with an animated short by the children at Lyrio with animator Christina Depian, specially made for this campaign + a limited edition T-shirt designed by Mark Hajipateras + an invitation for two to the premiere (US, London or Greece) + Executive Producer credit on the documentary.

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Funding period

- (30 days)