ISSN: 2241-6692
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For three years in a row I have followed the International Film Festival of the city of Gothenburg and each year I am impressed by the warmness in which residents and visitors of the city embrace the largest film festival of the Nordic region. GIFF maintains its recognition as a “winter classic”; an event which rejuvenates the city in the midst of a freezing and dark period and infuses the gloominess of the West coast of Sweden with luminous images from all over the world. This year’s festival welcomed 450 films from 84 countries which were shown at 1031 screenings in 30 theatres around the city; this brief reports aims at covering the event’s main highlights with a particular interest in the festival’s focus, award winners, and honorary guests.

The 39th Göteborg International Film Festival featured a dual focus on countries with different, yet significant contributiong to the global film industry. On the one hand, Italy was honored as a film country with an established contribution to global cinema. On the other hand, the festival turned the spotlight on Nigeria, as the second-largest film industry in the world (following India), with a yet undiscovered value of cinematic stories in direct correspondence with societal developments. Both Italian and Nigerian films enjoyed a number of sold-out screenings, as well as parallel events and activities which enriched visitors’ knowledge about the context of filmmaking in each country, as well as the sources of inspiration for the production of cinematic stories. ... More

On January 11, 2016, while the planet flooded social media with expressions of grief following the death of David Bowie, Greek audiences were struck by the loss of one of their own, native “starmen.” Nikos Panayotopoulos, one of the most original filmmakers who radically transformed the history of Greek cinema after the regime change in the 1970s, did die in Athens, ironically self-fulfilling the chronicle of the death foretold that is condensed in the title of one of his films; but then, of course, subtle irony, playful melancholy, and this glorious sense of unbearable lightness was the most distinctive feature of his cinematic gaze. In lieu of a conventional obituary, Athena Kartalou’s article “Nikos Panayotopoulos’s Athens: From Relic of Antiquity to Hipster Urban Refuge” (first appeared in World Film Locations: Athens, published in 2014 by Intellect Books, edited by Anna Poupou, Afroditi Nikolaidou, and Eirini Sifaki) attempts to shed new light on the director's legacy.

Nikos Panayotopoulos [was] one of the most prolific directors in Greek cinema: he has produced fifteen films in 39 years, starting in 1974, an emblematic year both for the state affairs in Greece – the fall of the dictatorship – and for Greek cinema itself – the end of the studio era. Over these years, Panayotopoulos has created his own, unique cinematic universe, which carries the seal of an auteur veritable: somehow and obliquely a step away from the others, nevertheless ironic, and, almost always, unconventional and unpredictable.

His strongest and most recognizable auteur characteristic, however, is the creation of a self-reflective cinema under the influence – but not a strictly imitative one – of the French nouvelle vague. Even when, in the late 90s, he began observing a “normalized,” non-arbitrary narrative flow, that was only the pretext for developing further a personal cinematic apparatus consisting of genre exploitation and pastiche, ironic glances both at his surrounding reality and cinema itself, and a dominative set of high production values with an emphasis on the visual through art direction and cinematography. ... More

Στο 56ο Φεστιβάλ Θεσσαλονίκης, η Πανελλήνια Ένωση Κριτικών Κινηματογράφου απένειμε το καθιερωμένο, ετήσιο βραβείο της στη δεύτερη ταινία του Αλέξη Αλεξίου με τίτλο Τετάρτη 04:45. Λίγο πριν την κυκλοφορία της ταινίας σε DVD και Blu-ray που έχει προγραμματιστεί για τη δεύτερη εβδομάδα του Ιανουαρίου, o σκηνοθέτης συνομιλεί με τη Μαρία Χάλκου για ένα προσωπικό σινεμά είδους και για την οικουμενικότητα της δυστοπίας στην παρούσα χρονική συνθήκη, για τα αστικά και τα εσωτικά τοπία (για να δανειστούμε τα λόγια του Αργύρη Χιόνη), για το χρονικό του προαναγγελθέντος θανάτου του ελληνικού μοντερνισμού και, εν τέλει, για τη σύγκλιση αισθητικής και ηθικής μέσα και πέρα από τον κινηματογράφο.

Μαρία Χάλκου: Αλέξη, σε μια εποχή που το ελληνικό art-house συγκεντρώνει το διεθνές ενδιαφέρον, με την Τετάρτη 04:45 επιλέγεις να ασχοληθείς με μια ταινία «είδους» και μάλιστα με ένα νεο-νουάρ. Γιατί «είδος» και γιατί νουάρ;

Αλέξης Αλεξίου: Αγαπώ το σινεμά «είδους». Το είδος σού προσφέρει έναν χάρτη, ένα blueprint για να στήσεις μια ιστορία. Με ενδιαφέρει η καθαρότητα της φόρμας του, η δυναμική που κρύβει στα αφηγηματικά μοτίβα και στις δοκιμασμένες συμβάσεις του, αλλά και η «ειλικρίνεια» των προθέσεών του. Ένας αγνός θεατής-παιδί που μεγαλώνει μέσα από τις κινηματογραφικές εικόνες δεν αντιλαμβάνεται το σινεμά τόσο ως «τέχνη», αλλά ως εμπειρία με συγκεκριμένα συγκινησιακά χαρακτηριστικά: γέλιο, φόβος, αγωνία, κ.λπ. Τα κινηματογραφικά είδη, ιδανικά, στοχεύουν ακριβώς εκεί, στην καθαρότητα της εμπειρίας, στα πρωταρχικά αυτά «παιδικά» συναισθήματα. Γιατί νουάρ; Η γέννηση της γκανγκστερικής ταινίας γίνεται στα τέλη της δεκαετίας του ’20, μέσα στην οικονομική κρίση. Η κρίση είναι ένα προσδιοριστικό στοιχείο του είδους, όπως ο υπόκοσμος, η πόλη, η άνοδος και η πτώση του ήρωα – στοιχεία εντέλει ταιριαστά με τη φαντασιακή άνοδο και την πολύ κυριολεκτική πτώση μιας χώρας. ... More

In an era of inane blockbusters and superfluous digital effects, Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest film comes to restore confidence to the continuing significance of cinema in the contemporary world of spectacular capitalism. The Lobster (2015) seems like a film from another era, despite the fact that it comes out of the panics, phobias and dead ends of our time. It employs a cinematic language that challenges expectations and predispositions, while simultaneously providing a novel visualization of plot-structure. In reality, it transforms, or indeed re-imagines, the well-established codes of telling a story cinematically, into a new open-ended plot structure which for the time being frustrates and puzzles.

The Lobster is Yorgos Lanthimos’ fourth movie; through all his previous films, the anxiety of storytelling cinematically can be detected from the deconstructive Kinetta (2005), through the post-linguistic Dogtooth (2009) to the cryptic Alps (2012). In all his films Lanthimos visualizes a main plot which is impacted by countless hidden subplots, which never enter the field of its visuality. What is not depicted is probably what is more significant for the structure of his films; if contemporary films suffer of excessive visual rhetorics, what distinguishes his work is the minimalistic ellipsis in story line, acting style, dialogue, and settings. As his work is still evolving, it is obvious that the Lobster will have the same impact on cinematic debates as Lars von Trier’s The Idiots (1998) had in the recent past. ... More

English abstract: In this article the author analyzes Jules Dassin’s Phaedra (1962) on the grounds of the structural elements of the attic drama and by highlighting the cinematographic resources that the director employs in his free adaptation of the Greek tragedy Hippolytus by Euripides for contemporary audiences.

Βρισκόμαστε στο Φεστιβάλ των Καννών του 1955. Ο βορειοαμερικανός σκηνοθέτης Ζυλ Ντασέν παραλαμβάνει το βραβείο καλύτερης σκηνοθεσίας για την ταινία του Du Rififi chez les hommes/Ριφιφί (εξ ημισείας με το Geroite na Shipka/Ήρωες του Σίπκα του Σεργκέι Βασίλιεφ), ένα πραγματικό αριστούργημα του γαλλικού φιλμ νουάρ. Έτσι, είδε το έργο του να ανταμείβεται ενώ ήταν εξόριστος στην Ευρώπη και αφότου το κυνήγι μαγισσών του Μακαρθισμού είχε ανακόψει την καριέρα του στην καλύτερη στιγμή της. Ο Ντασέν, που ξεκίνησε ως ηθοποιός σε παραστάσεις πειραματικού θεάτρου και έγινε στη συνέχεια βοηθός σκηνοθέτη στο πλευρό του Άλφρεντ Χίτσκοκ, είχε αρχίσει να αναγνωρίζεται ως ένα από τα πιο φερέλπιδα ονόματα του αμερικανικού κινηματογράφου, ως ένας σπεσιαλίστας της σκηνοθεσίας ταινιών φιλμ νουάρ και ενός νεορεαλισμού που –ακολουθώντας τις κατευθυντήριες γραμμές των Ρομπέρτο Ροσελίνι και Όρσον Ουέλς– άγγιζε σχεδόν το είδος του ντοκιμαντέρ. ... More

In early October, the world community was shaken by the news of the death of a cinema pioneer. In lieu of an obituary, the following “purloined” letter, which will never be read by its recipient, recounts an imaginary (and, therefore, real) encounter and insists on the meaning of this absense.

5 November 2015

Dear Chantal,

On the 3rd of October 2015, your milestone 1975 film Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles was screened in a tightly packed room in the Greek Film Archive in Athens. I was there; watching it for the first time on the big screen, enthralled. With the kind of tragic irony that only the randomness of reality can orchestrate, two days later, a month ago today, you committed suicide. Since then, I am trying to write an obituary and can’t do it. I finally chose to address you in person, as I should have done when you were still alive, given the admiration that I have felt for your work for so long.

Jeanne Dielman and your other films, fulfill the combined demands of feminism and avant-garde art; the former being encapsulated by the second-wave feminist slogan that “the personal is political” and the latter being the realization that no radical content can be expressed without radical form. The connection between feminist filmmaking and the choice of the avant-garde is not circumstantial. The avant-garde art position claims that you cannot question the dominant order by using its forms, visual and narrative, because it is inscribed in these very forms. Therefore, you can’t truly do feminist filmmaking without questioning the dominant ways of filmmaking. This realization is the hallmark of feminist avant-garde cinema, or rather its conceptual and structural definition. It was then, in the 1970s, that it became a conscious movement;i and your Jeanne Dielman was quite possibly its flagship. ... More

The second Contemporary Greek Film Cultures (CGFC) International Conference took place at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA, on the 8th and 9th May 2015, following on the success of the first conference (CGFC 2013, London, 5-6 July), which opened up a space for regular meetings of Greek film scholars from around the world. CGFC 2015 was the first Greek cinema conference in the USA, an important milestone for expanding and strengthening the establishment of the field of Greek Film Studies across the Atlantic, where the study of Greek cinema takes place within the broader framework of Modern Greek Studies or Hellenic Studies programmes.

The Hellenic Studies department within the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies hosted this year’s conference in a bid to strengthen the reach and visibility of Hellenic Studies programmes and research within the institution, nationally and internationally; in addition, this was an attempt to broaden the scope of research activities beyond the established, more traditional, areas of enquiry within the Modern Greek or Hellenic Studies domain to include Greek cinema. The organisers, Dr. Taso Lagos and Dr. Nektaria Klapaki, worked tirelessly throughout the process – from a successful bid to host the conference to the successful delivery of the event – in collaboration with the academic committee[1] chaired by Assoc Prof Vangelis Calotychos (Brown University). ... More

Syllas Tzoumerkas’ second film is literally having A Blast in its trajectory in the international festival circuit: Since March 2015, when it opened in a number of theaters in the Netherlands, the film found distribution in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, and on September 19, 2015 it premiered in Denmark – opening the way for the raving journey of the main character, Maria (Angeliki Papoulia), beyond the borders of the country, beyond the stereotypes in the representation of a young, Greek, female subject ‘in crisis’. The director discussed his method, his references and profound thoughts on filmmaking with Andrzej Marzec, running the distance between the metaphorical and the literal, between individual and collective truths and illusions. ... More

Μετά το 1985, η συστηματική παραγωγή και διανομή της ελληνικής βιντεοταινίας στις βιντεο-λέσχες (video clubs) σε όλη την Ελλάδα και η αναμενόμενη στροφή στην κατ’ οίκον ψυχαγωγία συνδέθηκαν κατά βάση με την αυξανόμενη ζήτηση και ενοικίαση κωμικών βιντεοταινιών. Κωμικοί χαρακτήρες, όπως ο Ρομά γυρολόγος Ταμτάκος (Μ. Μόσιος), και δημοφιλείς ηθοποιοί, όπως οι Κ. Βουτσάς, Σ. Μουστάκας, Κ. Τσάκωνας και Σ. Τζεβελέκος, υποδύθηκαν μαζί με συνομίληκους ή νεότερους πρωταγωνιστές αντίστοιχους ρόλους και είτε συνδέθηκαν σε μεγάλο βαθμό με την προηγούμενη κινηματογραφική τυπολογία τους ή ανανέωσαν την παλαιότερή τους. Η ποικιλία των κωμικών μοτίβων και συμβάσεων και η ανάδυση υπο-ειδών – όπως η αισθηματική κομεντί που απευθυνόταν σε νεότερης ηλικίας ακροατήρια – ανύψωσε σύντομα τη βιντεο-κωμωδία στην προτίμηση του ελληνικού βιντεο-ακροατηρίου. Συγχρόνως, έδωσε ώθηση για μία περαιτέρω παραγωγή, συχνά ευτελούς, οπτικοακουστικού υλικού, το οποίο, τουλάχιστον για τα τελευταία χρόνια της δεκαετίας του ’80, δεν είχε καμία σχέση με τη σκηνοθετική προσέγγιση, την αισθητική και τη σεναριακή πρωτοτυπία ούτε του κινηματογραφικού αρχετύπου από την εποχή του Παλιού Ελληνικού Κινηματογράφου (ΠΕΚ), ούτε, εξάλλου, με τις ίδιες τις βιντεοταινίες των αρχών του 1985-1986. ... More

Xenia is a deceptively simple film which needs a detailed analysis and exploration. Recently, it received a number of prestigious awards by the Greek Film Academy and many positive, albeit mixed, reviews in the international circuit of film festivals. Guy Lodge in Variety talked about the film as “brashly uneven and wildly overlong” in need of more “disciplined editing.”[i] Boyd van Hoeij pointed out that “though the story [i]s finally too predictable and a little too thin to captivate for the film’s entire two-hours-plus running time, the characters, their chemistry and their plight are compelling.” [ii] Fabien Lemercier was more positive in his assessment: “Very much at ease with tragicomedy and not one to shy away from any combination of genres – from fables to hyperrealism, or from focusing on a single human relationship to a vast portrait of society, via euphoric moments of musical comedy and amazing forays into dream worlds and fantasy – the filmmaker allows himself to take every possible liberty in Xenia”. Lemercier emphasises that “the film is above all a very successful portrait of brotherhood.” [iii] ... More