Documentary preserves past of Holocaust survivor

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Hannah Arroyo / Sports Editor

Emilio Guido (right) and Theofanis Orfanos pose for a picture after showcasing Guido's recent documentary

After Theofanis Orfanos came to America in 1957, he eventually started a family and established his own shoe shine shop in Downtown Boston. But what most people don’t know about the Arlington resident is that he’s a survivor of the Holocaust. 

Last Friday, Northeastern student Emilio Guido showcased Orfanos’ story in his documentary “Laugh Now: A Perspective on Life, Liberty & the Holocaust” with Suffolk University students. Guido, a former Suffolk student, partnered with the Politics, Philosophy and Economics club to bring his work to campus. 

Originally from Greece, Orfanos was captured in 1940 when his country was invaded by the Germans. He spent time in a forced-labor camp where his meals consisted of boiled grass and he was forced to make and move cement.

 

After 18 months Orfanos was able to escape the camp, hiding in a bathroom as the rest of the group was relocating. With some help, he found his way back home and would then would eventually  go on to move to America. 

“Theo is a small example of how things can get better over time,” said Guido. ”He just remembers a lot of hate and over time it just goes away, so I’m sure he dealt with whatever memories and anger he did years and years ago, but he holds a different view about it now.”

Orfanos and Guido were connected through Orfanos’ son who asked that his father’s story be told. The two then built an everlasting connection that brought a new perspective of life for Guido. 

Guido explained that Orfanos yearns to share his experiences with “the youth” to hopefully teach them a lesson or two. Together they want to share the documentary at different universities and have even gone to speak at Arlington High School.  

“I would say I learned to complain less,” said Guido. “My laptop screen is a photo of Theo and I and when I see that it’s not that hard what I’m going through. Whatever it is, it’s not as difficult as what he went through.”

When first brainstorming ideas to capture Orfanos’ story, Guido thought about turning it into a journalistic piece. After actually meeting and speaking with Orfanos Guido knew that this just wouldn’t do. 

“We might not have to understand what he’s saying but we understand the context,” said Guido. ”It’s the way he gives this information, even such awful information even some of the stories that he tells but he’s able to laugh right after even when we don’t understand it. That’s just something that can’t be captured in written word.”

While the film took nearly nine months to produce and edit, Guido knew it was all worth it to preserve the words of a man whose story deserves to be shared.

Guido’s documentary can be found on YouTube by clicking the link below: