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By Phil Hall | November 9, 2013

Some neighbors just cannot get along. A case in point: Greece and Turkey, whose respective populations view each other with a strident contempt that makes other ethnic conflicts look like zany misunderstandings. Greek filmmaker Hercules Millas and Turkish director Nefin Dinc have mercifully chosen not to follow the examples of their countrymen, and their collaborative documentary highlights how the residents of Dimitsana in Greece and Birgi in Turkey have successfully kept their hatreds alive.

Much of the problem, it seems, goes back to the 1821 war that led to the Greek independence after centuries of Ottoman rule. Conflicts between the nations over the following years have only added to the bitterness, and today it seems impossible to find anyone on either side that can find a positive word to say about the folks across the border. These feelings are happily passed along across generations – the school textbooks of each nation inevitably portrays the other side as being heinous villains, while children taken an active role in denigrating their neighboring foes during nationalist holiday celebrations.

If there is anything resembling an easy solution to this dilemma – or even a complicated answer – the filmmakers cannot locate it. Even at its compact 45-minute running time, the depth of anger and insults between Greeks and Turks often becomes shrill and even silly. Nonetheless, the film offers a frank portrait of two people who seem to prefer animosity to brotherhood.

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