Review: ‘Ap’ to Hioni’

The fruitless odyssey of a trio of refugees from Albania to Greece provides a potent dramatic core to "From the Snow," but writer-director Sotiris Goritsas keeps his subject at arm's length emotionally, limiting audience involvement.

The fruitless odyssey of a trio of refugees from Albania to Greece provides a potent dramatic core to “From the Snow,” but writer-director Sotiris Goritsas keeps his subject at arm’s length emotionally, limiting audience involvement.

Technically polished entry is best suited to the tube, especially in Europe, where the parallel plights of non-E.C. immigrants will fuel its immediacy.

Considered Greek by Albanian authorities and Albanian by Greeks, refugees from the Northern Epirus region were initially given virtual carte blanche to enter Greece as cheap labor, ’till the Greek government began slashing the influx. Clandestine immigration continues, however, creating a flourishing climate for worker exploitation, police harassment, homelessness and the sale of refugee children for adoption.

Goritsas skillfully incorporates this background into the story of two villagers and a recently orphaned boy who flee first to Corfu and then to the Greek mainland. Their dreams of socialism’s opportunities quickly dissolve as they endure a hopeless bout of adversity that eventually sends them homeward.

Despite an able cast, the protagonists remain remote figures, and pic has a vague, underlying flatness that intrudes on the drama. “Snow” took best feature prize in the Thessaloniki fest’s international competition, as well as nods for best film, screenplay, cinematography and the Fipresci (international critics’) award in the national lineup.

Ap' to Hioni

(GREEK)

Production

A Hyperion Prods./Greek Film Center/Sotiris Goritsas production. Executive producer, Panos Papahadzis. Directed, written by Sotiris Goritsas, based on Sotiris Dimitriou's short story. Camera (color), Stamatis Yannoulis; editor, Takis Koumoundouros; music, Nikos Kypourgos; art direction, costume design, Youla Zoiopoulou; sound, Nikos Papadimitriou. Reviewed at Thessaloniki Film Festival (competing), Greece, Nov. 11, 1993. Running time: 90 MIN.

With

With: Gerassimos Skiadaresis, Vassilis Eleftheriadis, Antonis Manolas, Mania Papadimitriou, Sophia Olympiou.
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