We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Maria Iliou’s documentary doesn’t try to argue that Greek-Americans were especially different from any other group of European immigrants, at least at first. The film’s opening minutes tells a familiar story about waves of families arriving at Ellis Island in the 1890s, scrambling to make a living, and eventually settling into urban enclaves. Not that there weren’t distinctions: The Journey takes a few whacks at that diner-owning stereotype, pointing to the substantial number of Greek-American shoeshine boys in New York and sponge divers in Tarpon Springs. As Iliou tracks the community finding its identity in the 20th century, her film becomes something of a tribute to Greek-American all-stars: Among those featured are Louis Tikas, who died defending miners during the Ludlow Massacre, Georgios Papanikolaou, who invented the Pap smear, and Elia Kazan, director of On the Waterfront. Iliou never lapses into mere boosterism, though, and the commenters—especially D.C. novelist George Pelecanos and former Sen. Paul Sarbanes—speak colorfully about their heritage and the difficult path to assimilation.