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4.1 Miles from The New York Times – Video on Vimeo.

Daphne Matziaraki’s film 4.1 Miles, was nominated this week for an Oscar in the Best Documentary Short category.

In her 21 minute film, Matziaraki records the endeavors of a Greek coastguard captain, as he and his small crew rescue men, women and children in the waters surrounding the island of Lesbos – just 4.1 miles from the Turkish coast – in late 2015.

“I had never seen so many people, so many children, so many families being so scared,” Matziaraki tells Al Jazeera.

The Greek filmmaker spent three weeks with Papadopoulos and his crew, but the rescue scenes included in the film are all from October 28, 2015. It was her first day on the boat.


Filmmaker Daphne Matziaraki

Matziaraki was in the United States when Greece found itself in the midst of the worst refugee crisis since World War II. During 2015, 600,000 people made the crossing from Turkey to Lesbos. Totals in Greece, topped 820,000.

Since the film was shot, arrivals in Lesbos and other Greek islands have sharply decreased, as a result of a series of Balkan border closures and an EU-Turkey deal aimed at stopping the flow of refugees into Europe – an agreement that has been widely criticised both by aid groups and United Nations agencies.

“It may be that some time has passed since I shot that film, but it couldn’t be more timely and relevant,” Matziaraki says, citing the collapse of the EU-Turkey treaty and actions such as US President Donald Trump’s executive order banning refugees from entering the country.

The Academy Awards’ ceremony will be held in the US city of Los Angeles on February 26, 4.1 Miles, which premiered in September 2016 as part of New York Times Op-Docs, has already won several accolades.