Posted by: sibyllemeder | February 17, 2014

Very exclusive preview screening of THE ISLAND BUS

Tilos is enjoying one of the mildest winters in human history – that’s a bit of an exaggeration, let’s say: in this human being’s memory – and I noticed a sunshine-induced perm grin of happiness on my face lately, but last night my fantastic mood was definitely caused by something very little to do with the weather:

While it was BAFTA night in the UK, I had most of the stars of THE ISLAND BUS over at my humble abode by the Aegean Sea for a super exclusive preview screening of the documentary.

Getting into the frame: team effort

Getting into the frame: team effort

It is not that I haven’t watched the 107 minutes of the film quite a few times by now, and to show your work to other people is exciting in any case – but even more so if you watch it in the company of the people who over the past years were generous enough to share a glimpse into their lives with me.

And appropriately, like the film and the island life, the screening, too, became a collaborative act: Yours truly provided the venue, the screen and – oh, yes – the screener DVD, catering – including a delicious cake and spoon-sweets – was looked after by Sveta, while for celebrity driving services to and from the venue no one less than Island Bus driver Pavlos got behind the wheel – of his own private car this time. In true fashion, Menelaos had planned to arrive on foot via the Megalo Chorio path but got sabotaged by his son who offered him a lift on his motor bike which had him arrive half an hour early – just in time to oversee feeding the filmmaker’s cats. Your standard cast and crew screening on Tilos, really.

A bus on the road on a screen in a house by the road where the bus turns - now say that fast and with a spoonful of plum jam in your mouth!

A bus on the road on a screen in a house by the road where the bus turns – now say that fast and with a spoonful of plum jam in your mouth!

It was a bigger treat than words can describe. Seeing tears well up in Marta’s eyes when the scene with the late and lovely Kyrios Nikolas came up and watching Menelaos and Pavlos nudging each other as they observed their own daily life captured in the documentary, chuckling away at the myriads of little oddities that make life on Tilos – and make a big part of the film – and hearing Sveta laugh at it and repeat “έτσι δεν είναι;” (isn’t it like that?) was a celebration on its own.

We toasted with tea and Menelaos’s self-distilled Raki, and I must honestly say I am looking forward to many more screenings of the documentary, but the memory of the roar of the sea at Agios Antonios mixing with the clasping waves on the soundtrack will stay with me for all of them.

Posted by: sibyllemeder | December 31, 2013

THE ISLAND BUS 2013 in review

Dear Island Bus audience,

this was the year 2013 – thanks to you!

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,100 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

A big THANK YOU for your support!

So here is to a fantastic 2014!
Happiness, Health and Fabulousness to all of you!

Posted by: sibyllemeder | December 24, 2013

Happy Christmas from THE ISLAND BUS!


Happy Christmas



Posted by: sibyllemeder | December 20, 2013

THE ISLAND BUS sounds: title track

Ο Κώστας στο λάουτο

Happy winter greetings form THE ISLAND BUS hub. To get you into the festive mood in this season of giving, we are giving you an audio glimpse of what THE ISLAND BUS sounds like.

Excited? Yes, so are we! The soundtrack is a really intergral part to the film and until you can watch it in combination you will get the chance to listen to some of it here on the blog – with a few stories of how it has come together thrown in for good measure.

So, here we go.

First in our series of audio snippets is the THE ISLAND BUS title track. Surprisingly enough, it’s called “THE ISLAND BUS” – and appears in two versions in the film.

Remember how we set up studio in Livadia and had some of Tilos’s bright young stars – John Bartlam and Dennis Kelly – team up with Tilos’s seasoned live musicians – Pantelis Logothetis, Xenia Logotheti, Antonis and Konstantinos Makris and Aristotelis Hatzifountas?

Έτοιμο το μικρόφωνο - ένα, δύο, τρία - πάμε!

Έτοιμο το μικρόφωνο – ένα, δύο, τρία – πάμε!

Apart from the perennial classics which old Tilos hands and locals alike know from the panagyris and which you will get to hear later on in the soundtrack, they also got together for a super-laid back jam session or two. Starting with a guitar tune that John and Dennis had come up with, Antonis, Kostas, Telis, Pantelis and Xenia improvised to their chords – and “THE ISLAND BUS” was created!

Double track recording made easy

Here is a sample of the original recording:

And in the spirit of “fusion” – which was the piece’s original title – I mentioned to a friend in Dortmund, Germany, that I was looking for a DJ with an interest in Balkan and Middle-Eastern music to remix some of our score. She knew exactly the right person to talk to. So I took the tune to one of the two wonderful artists responsible for THE ISLAND BUS’s original soundtrack: DJ Badre.

Because of his upbringing in Morocco, Badre was influenced by a huge range of various “ethnic beats and sound”. He was fascinated by this spiritual colourful music and started to create his own, very individual way of combining electrical sounds with ethnic beats.

I felt a bit like a child on Christmas Eve – hence the timing – when we first got together to play around – literally – with some of the songs from Tilos. You will get to hear more of his fantastic remixes and also Thomas Mangano’s brilliant original music for THE ISLAND BUS in future posts.

But for now, lean back, pour a glass of your favourite something and lend an ear to “THE ISLAND BUS (REMIX)”:

Ópa and ho ho ho!


Posted by: sibyllemeder | October 18, 2013

Here is our poster design – fresh from the artist!

Very happy to tell you that we got German painter and illustrator Viola Welker ( on board THE ISLAND BUS team to design our poster.

See what wonderful artwork she has come up with:

The Island Bus poster

The central theme of Viola Welker’s work is the creature, a created being that can be human, animal, plant or mythical creature. These creatures are in a process of growing and completely at one with their surroundings which vary greatly in form and shape. Floral ornaments and organic cell formations are metaphors for the growing, fading and re-born life of the individual.

Her work has been published by Gestalten-Verlag, zeixs-Verlag, 3×3 magazine, Hermann-Schmidt-Verlag and mitp-Verlag.

…And we are proud to say: on our poster, too!

Posted by: sibyllemeder | October 11, 2013

The Island Bus @ Medimed DocsMarket, Sitges, 11-13 Oct

Medimed DocsMarket

We are very happy to announce that THE ISLAND BUS was selected for the 14th edition of Medimed DocsMarket, Sitges. A feature-length and a 58-min TV version are both included in the catalogue.

So if you are a buyer heading over to this unique Euromediterranean documentary market, make sure you check out our documentary which is available from 11-13 Oct for private screenings in the Medimed videotheque.

We can promise a charming ride on THE ISLAND BUS, a warm-hearted documentary which adds an Aegean twist to the eternal question of how to be happy no matter what.

The Island Bus on the roll

Posted by: sibyllemeder | September 8, 2013

THE ISLAND BUS is ready to roll!

Ready to roll

Ready to roll

We have a film! Does anything else need to be said? – Well, yes, a lot of things. But we will keep them for future updates.

For today, let me just thank all involved for their time and effort put into this project and all of you in the audience for your continuing support. THE ISLAND BUS is complete, a feature length version of the film has been edited, mixed and finalised over the past weeks in Glasgow with great support from colorist John Sackey and sound designer Ali Murray, both wonderful experts in their respective fields. A TV hour version of our film will be available soon.

Feeling very happy about it – as you might imagine – and just wanted to share this moment with you. As you would have it, I am writing these lines on a bus…

See you all at a screening soon!



Posted by: sibyllemeder | July 21, 2013

The Highlands Bus

As you know, post-production for THE ISLAND BUS is under way in Scotland. Met up with colourist John Sackey last week to create the perfect look for the film. Talking about bright Tilos sunshine in a colour-grading suite in Glasgow, we even had proper Greek weather to match: 30 degrees and blue skies. Which means: some days just have to be spent out off the studio.


Exploring the Scottish countryside yesterday, I ran into a very familiar situation. Narrow roads, big buses, shouting drivers – welcome to The Highlands Bus! … (Is there a sequel in there?)



Posted by: sibyllemeder | July 9, 2013

The Sounds of an Island

Just returned from a sound mix Marathon session for The Island Bus. Thanks a million to our sound editor Ali Murray for spending what might well have been 50% of the Scottish summer in a studio with me and some Greek sun on video to get it sound right! You rock!


(DEUTSCHE VERSION – klingt auch gut)

Posted by: sibyllemeder | July 3, 2013

I Fell Asleep in The Act of Killing…

… and why I am not too nice – but seem like it.

A couple of weeks ago, ISLAND BUS producer Lindsay Goodall and I joined a record number of delegates at Sheffield Doc/Fest Twenty.

It was a pretty relaxed anniversary festival for us. We had some informal business chats on the agenda and a lot of film watching and catching up with other filmmakers. It also felt very good to answer the standard question: “And what about your film?” with: “We will start sound mix and grading next week.” After 3 years of ISLAND BUS in the making, this sentence comes with a certain glow.

Working Sheffield Doc/Fest by day...

Sibylle Meder (l) and Lindsay Goodall (r) working Sheffield Doc/Fest by day…

Sheffield is also where we have introduced the project in its very early stages to commissioning editors and sales agents from around the world. So it just felt right to be there during this exiting time. And it’s always good to watch a lot of films – even if in one of them, I fell asleep.

You might shake your head at the headline of this blog post. After all, THE ACT OF KILLING won the festival’s Special Jury Award and had previously been nominated for quite a few other awards. It was hailed as the most amazing documentary to come out in a long time, a must-see, an eye-opener. Well, I am almost apologetic to say this, but for me it was an eye-closer.

This had other reasons than only the film itself and its length of 158 minutes – namely my total lack of sleep during the festival week. But that I succumbed to the urge for a healthy snooze during this screening and not another had also to do with the fact that I think I was right from the start: it is just not my kind of film.

Which is fine. Fortunately, we live in a diverse world and there is room for many different types of artistic vision and effort. I am very glad, actually, that I watched parts of it – though reluctantly – because it helped me get clarity of what kind of film is mine. And now I am able to tell you, and then you get to decide whether THE ISLAND BUS is your kind of film. Winning situation all around! So here we go:

... and by night

… and by night

I understand the concept and the enormous effort director Joshua Oppenheimer put in THE ACT OF KILLING. (If you read this sentence without the capital letters in mind, it sounds strange. But I am a sucker for silly puns – see headline.) I appreciate his tenacity and vision. I am also with him on what he said as an introduction to the screening, namely that he would hope during the film we would all remember that no matter how horrific a crime people commit, they are still human beings, that these crimes are committed by human beings who have to live with this for the rest of their lives somehow. I “get” that, entirely. Maybe that’s why I felt entitled to doze off after 90 minutes. I felt I had gotten the message from the start.

I have been told that I should have stayed awake to watch (SPOILER ALERT!) the transformation of one of the contributors in the very end, when he breaks down in tears and vomits after he returns for the second time to the scene of his mass killings and re-enacts his deeds for the filmmakers.

I congratulate the filmmakers on having brought about this cathartic act through their project and I hope that it has served as a catalyst of relief for those involved.

Yet, I don’t feel that I really need to witness it. I don’t know what world you live in, but in mine there is a constant awareness that crime and cruelty exist, up to a point where you could think that nothing else exists. No problem with that if that is what you want to hear and how you want to feel and make your audience feel. Only, most documentary makers would probably claim that they try to contribute to making the world a better place with their work.

So how do you go on about that?

You could argue, of course, that only with an audience the film could have been made and then caused the catharsis to happen. On that level, okay, if I can do my human duty of helping other human beings along to overcome their traumas simply by sitting in a cinema, I’ll sit through it anytime. But that’s a bit like group therapy, isn’t it? Here lies the catch for me: like speech therapy, merely exposing the horror, the bad stuff, the crime only gets us that far. In its worst case, we will end up with our newly gained knowledge of how bad a world we really live in, numbed by the experience – and inert.

Yes, exposing injustice can have and does have cathartic qualities if it stirs up anger AND this anger is channeled and used in ways to change the status quo. But I would argue this: in order to change it, you first have to know in which direction you want to go. And in order to know that, it helps to focus on that, your goal, rather than on what you leave behind. You should be inspired to build something, rather than to take something apart.

I did stay awake in this one - maybe maritime is just more my thing...

I did stay awake in this one – maybe maritime is just more my thing…

I have been told once during a pitching session for THE ISLAND BUS that I was “too nice” and should make the characters suffer more on screen, should include more of the problems and friction. I was “too nice” to point out that I am actually “too wise” to do that. I am making the films I make not because I have a niceness defect in my nature, but by conscious choice. What I am trying to do – and soon you will be able to watch and to judge whether I succeeded – is to focus on those things in life that make it worthwhile.

We all know that millions of people across the world are fleeing their homes and it doesn’t take that much imagination to conclude that that is probably not on your top 10 list of experiences you would want in life. (Arguably, it probably doesn’t make the top 100 either. The two generations of my family that came before me have been through it and they didn’t think it was that great.) Yet, should you find yourself in a situation like that, should you be thrown into a totally different culture like Saeed is in THE ISLAND BUS, or should your country face bankruptcy and mayhem like the country THE ISLAND BUS is set in, how then do you deal with that? How do you still manage to live a life worth living? (Seeing that you probably only get one shot at living, I find this a valid question.) In other words: rather than killing (yourself or others) how do you go on and survive? Not only physically but also emotionally? What might be the circumstances, how come?

Those are the questions that inspire me as a filmmaker. That’s why I am making films that are “too nice”: because they celebrate the things in life that make it worth living – because or despite it all.

If you happen to feel inspired or moved by THE ISLAND BUS, then I am happy to say: that’s what I was aiming for.

Penny Woolcock and a captive audience

Penny Woolcock and a captive audience @Sheffield Doc/Fest Twenty

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