There was a time not long ago when any talk of Greek cinema quickly turned to a movement loosely characterized as the Greek Weird Wave, known for a certain deadpan aesthetic that was popularized with the breakout success of Yorgos Lanthimos (“Dogtooth”) and Athina Rachel Tsangari (“Attenberg”).
That has changed, if the label ever truly fit to begin with. “I don’t believe that there is a specific Greek wave,” says Christos Nikou, whose debut feature, “Apples,” about a lonely man who becomes a victim of an unexplained surge of amnesia in his city, is being sold by Alpha Violet during the Cannes virtual market.
“My intention was to make a movie more close to the cinema I love as a viewer,” he continues. “Movies that create their own worlds and have conceptual ideas and at the same time have an unusual and complete story to narrate.”
It’s an artistic vision that, in fact, unites him with many of his Greek contemporaries. “All the filmmakers I’m working with have the common characteristic that their body of work defies genres and crosses borders,” says Maria Drandaki of Homemade Films. “They are all stretching and challenging the limits of the cinema as a medium and of reality itself. They don’t necessarily belong to the same generation, but they all have in common that they are citizens of the whole planet rather than strictly Greeks.”
Drandaki will be presenting “Animal,” the sophomore feature of director Sophia Exarchou (“Park”), which was selected for the Cannes Cinefondation’s L’Atelier. The producer says the film bristles “with a striking, vibrant and dark youthfulness” that was also characteristic of Exarchou’s debut.
Also on Drandaki’s Cannes slate is “Titanic Ocean,” the feature debut of Konstantina Kotzamani, whose short films have played in Cannes, Venice and Berlin; “Faraway,” by Yorgos Zois (“Interruption”); and “The Dragon Has Come,” by Christos Passalis.
Yorgos Tsourgiannis, of Horsefly Films, will be presenting Michalis Konstantatos’ “All The Pretty Little Horses,” about a married couple seeking refuge in a small coastal town after a major setback in their lives. “Besides the diversity in subjects and themes, I perceive the conversation in the larger landscape of the Greek cinema to be on cinema itself in a way. What is cinema now?” says Tsourgiannis. “It’s something that excites me, and I find traces of that in Konstantatos’ ‘Pretty Horses,’ or Efthimis Kosemund Sanidis’ debut feature, ‘That Burning Light,’ that I’m currently developing.”
Five features were also selected for a digital presentation of Thessaloniki Goes to Cannes, the Cannes Film Market’s annual pics-in-post industry showcase supported by the Thessaloniki Intl. Film Festival.
This year’s selection includes “Green Sea,” the story of a woman struggling to rebuild her past after losing her memory, directed by Angeliki Antoniou; “Dog,” Yianna Americanou’s portrait of a boy from a broken home on the cusp of manhood and longing for a stable family life; “Esperanto,” Stratis Chatzielenoudas’ documentary about the members of a bird breeding club that explores the communication, language and the relationship between humans and birds; “If It’s Not OK It’s Not the End,” a documentary about a three-time boxing champion who reinvents himself in the ring while trying to repair his relationship with his wife and children, from director Salvador Muñoz Saiz; and “Made in Vain,” Michael Klioumis’ intimate look into the world of professional body building.
“The selection process aims to showcase bold films from the most unique and pioneer voices that reflect these critical times,” says Thessaloniki Film Festival general director Elise Jalladeau, who curated the line-up. “The films come from established directors as well as newcomers, female as well as male voices, showing the range and diversity of Greek cinema.”