Greek helmer Sofia Exarchou makes her highly anticipated debut in Toronto with “Park,” a raw snapshot of Athenian youth which has its world premiere today. Set in Athens a decade after the 2004 Olympic Games, the film paints a bleak portrait of modern Greece against a backdrop of blight and the crumbling remains of the Olympic village.
Exarchou chose to use a cast of largely untrained and undiscovered talent, giving “Park” the rawness and intensity of a rebellion. With its washed-out palate and lingering takes of urban decay, it shines a harsh spotlight on a country wreathed in “past glories,” she says, and poised on the brink of collapse.
Exarchou says that while the modern ruins of the Olympic village provide an apt metaphor for Greece’s decade-long tailspin, “Park” presents an image of societal decline that “could be anywhere.”
“I hope the conversation won’t stay” on the Greek crisis, she says. “I would like people to realize that it has a more global meaning. It’s not only about Greece.”
Pic comes to Toronto with high expectations, after Exarchou was selected to participate in both the Sundance Directors and Screenwriters Labs in 2014. Last year, “Park” won the Works-in-Progress Prize at Karlovy Vary.
It’s already shaping up to be a busy year for Exarchou, who will take the movie to San Sebastian, Warsaw and the BFI London Film Festival after its Toronto premiere.