“Dreams Can’t Be Quarantined”: Behind the Viral Video

We spoke with photographer and filmmaker Aris Katsigiannis about how his viral video came about, and what he dreams about in quarantine.


There is no shortage of popular videos online that revel in the beautiful scenery of Greece; few, however, manage to touch the collective sentiment the way Aris Katsigiannis’ video has. By the looks of it, his film bore a message that Greeks needed to hear during these trying days – namely, that Dreams Can’t Be Quarantined.

Katsigiannis is popular among the Instagram community (where he has 31K followers) and beyond. His love of photography began at an early age, after he realized that he could use his camera to convey a beautiful moment to people who were not there to experience it first hand.

After graduating from school, he decided to study photography; for eight years now, he has made it his profession, combining it with his other passion – traveling. During the past five years he has also added film production and direction to the mix.

We spoke with Katsigiannis to find out how a photographer dedicated to travel stays upbeat when under lockdown.

Where were you planning to be these days, had the lockdown not come into effect?

Surely on some trip, most likely to a Greek island with friends, in pursuit of some sunset. I really appreciate the beauties of Greece and, regardless of how many times I may have seen our mountains, our seas or our people, they always bring out something new for me and I’m able to capture them from a different angle.

What has the lockdown been like for you?

For the last few weeks, I worked on this video, so the lockdown went by in “edit, sleep, repeat” mode. Generally, though, I viewed the lockdown as an opportunity for inspiration, new ideas and preparation for things that I will do after all of this comes to an end.

I believe that we shouldn’t let anything get us down, because difficulties, especially, can make us appreciate things that we had taken for granted. Like, for instance, hugging a friend. Also, we mustn’t forget that situations that seem bad might later bring us the most beautiful things ever to happen to us.

How did the idea for the “Dreams Can’t be Quarantined” video come about?

When I first heard that the free movement of people was about to be restricted, I asked myself, “So what happens now? What are we going to do, confined indoors for so many days? Should we maybe create something nice during that time and convey a beautiful and uplifting message to people? Could we perhaps create something good out of the all of the ugliness of this period?”

And at that point I remembered how much material I had from Greece, and decided that it would be a good opportunity to use it to give people worldwide some courage. My friend Ioanna Trafali agreed to write the script, and two days later we got together at the house of my friend Christoforos Anastasiadis and did the voiceover. The restriction on free movement went into effect the following day.

Why do you think your video made such a splash?

All of us are really afraid, stressed and living in an uncertain situation. What we’re experiencing is something unprecedented. I think we all needed someone to reassure us by telling us that all of this will end and that our dreams cannot be put into lockdown. Someone or something that would awaken us from this difficult phase and, at the same time, take us on travels.

Do any particular comments you’ve received come to mind?

One of the nicest comments I have received was from a teacher. She wrote me the following: ‘Today, your way of looking and thinking met ours – that of a teacher and her students – and thus acquired substance, existence, strength. This happened today, as I was telling my students (12-year-old children, confined to their homes, with their vitality on hold and their inexhaustible energy under lockdown) that, even though one’s body may find itself inside four walls, one’s mind never stops dreaming, and this is what keeps up alive, at the end of the day! I asked them today to write down a goal of theirs every morning, and every night something that they’re grateful for… and then this amazing video came and found me… I thank you – we thank you!’

What dreams keep you alive?

Traveling to as many countries as time allows. I dream of getting to know new places and cultures, new people and new landscapes. Anything different has always been something that inspires me. I want to be able to share the emotions I feel when traveling and this with as many people as possible. A lot of people may not be able to travel. Taking them to a new place via an image gives special meaning to my life.

What’s the first thing you’re going to do after the lockdown ends?

Go for a stroll on the beach with my friends. Sit there with them and have a couple of bottles of beer and then head back home, sunburned and with a huge smile. Simple things like that, which are no longer a given.

To wrap things up, of all the places you’ve visited in Greece, which would you recommend?

One of the magical things about our country is that it combines landscapes that are so different from one other. Incredible mountains and unbelievable beaches. Of the mountainous destinations, I would recommend the Zagorochoria [in Epirus], because the visitor gets to see another Greece, one different from the classic pictures used to promote our country. Its snowy mountains, rivers and natural landscape will all remain unforgettable to the visitor.

Of the islands, the one I would recommend is Crete. There, the visitor has the opportunity to taste authentic and truly delicious food, experience Greek hospitality and get to see really beautiful beaches.

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