Greek visual artist Kyriakos Katzourakis makes an occasionally poetical entree into film directing with "The Way to the West," an ambitious if somewhat diffuse lamentation over the global phenomenon of economically and politically forced emigration. Mournful exercise has some potent moments etching the range of injustices suffered both at home and abroad.

Greek visual artist Kyriakos Katzourakis makes an occasionally poetical entree into film directing with “The Way to the West,” an ambitious if somewhat diffuse lamentation over the global phenomenon of economically and politically forced emigration. Mournful exercise has some potent moments etching the range of injustices suffered both at home and abroad. But it’s seriously marred by ill-considered dramatic sequences featuring stage thesp Katia Gerou swanning about as some sort of all-purpose “suffering angel” of victimization. Beyond scattered fest dates, pic’s own travel prospects look remote.

With interviewees and news footage hailing from the Balkans, Sierra Leone, Iraq, Asia and points between, feature offers a pastiche nonfictive view akin to Stephen Frears’ concurrent “Dirty Pretty Things”; here, the West is an inevitable but frequently unwelcoming destination for hordes escaping Third World persecution or simply seeking a better life. Archival excerpts, some ironic soundtracked songs, and glimpses of helmer’s own impressionistic paintings add to bleak, questioning tenor. But Gerou’s histrionics, very much in the old diva tradition of hand-wringing and imploring eyes cast heavenward, eventually dominates progress with excess phony theatricality. Tech aspects are variable.

The Way To The West

Greece

Production

A Greek Film Centre, Hellnic Broadcasting Corp., NET and Omada Technis production. Produced by Nikos Doukas, Roula Nicolaou. Directed, written by Kyriakos Katzourakis.

Crew

Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Alexis Grivas; editors, Daphne Tolis, Katzourakis; music, Ross Daly. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival, (Cinema of Europe), Sept. 3, 2003. Running time: 81 MIN.

With

Katia Gerou.

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