Curzon Artificial Eye has acquired distribution rights in the U.K. and Ireland for “Apples,” the feature directorial debut of Greece’s Christos Nikou, which opens the Horizons section of the 77th Venice Film Festival on Sep. 2. Madman Entertainment has also scooped up rights for Australia and New Zealand.
The film, which was also selected to play in the cancelled Telluride Film Festival, is produced by Iraklis Mavroeidis, Angelo Venetis, Aris Dagios and Nikos Smpiliris of Greece’s Boo Productions and Mariusz Włodarski of Poland’s Lava Films. Alpha Violet is handling international sales of the film, while U.S. sales rights are going through CAA.
“Apples” is the story of a solitary man (Aris Servetalis) who falls victim to an unexplained pandemic that causes sudden amnesia. When he decides to take part in an experimental treatment to create new memories, he meets a woman (Sofia Georgovasili) undergoing the same therapy, gradually forcing him to rethink the course of his life.
Louisa Dent, managing director of Curzon Artificial Eye, said the film “captures you initially with the wonderful composition of its images and texture of the sound, but wins you over with how this control of form is put in service of a deeply personal and moving story.” She added that Nikou is “clearly a very talented director” and said Curzon is “thrilled to be introducing him to audiences in the U.K. and Eire.”
“Apples” was conceived nearly a decade ago, at a time when Nikou was grappling with the death of his father and trying to forget memories he found too painful to bear. When he began writing the film’s script, “I was trying to understand how selective our memory is, and if we can erase something that hurts us,” he said. “I tried to transfer my personal story into [a universal] one.”
The self-taught director knew from an early age that he had a passion for film. His introduction into the industry, at the age of 22, couldn’t have been more fortuitous: After reading a synopsis for “Dogtooth,” the first feature from Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos, Nikou called the film’s production company to ask for a meeting. He was hired on the spot as an assistant director on Lanthimos’ Oscar-nominated debut—the first of eight films he would serve on as an AD, including Richard Linklater’s “Before Midnight.”
Shot in 4:3 aspect ratio by Polish cinematographer Bartosz Świniarski, “Apples” employs a visual style that mimics the Polaroid snapshots its characters take as part of their therapy, which attempts to establish new memories through the recreation of seemingly arbitrary and mundane daily tasks.
Nikou deploys this deadpan conceit to question how our lives today are mediated through our screens. “Right now, humans are performing experiences. They’re not really living,” said the director. “We are forced more and more to live less and less. Especially through social media. Sometimes we care more to take a picture than [to] live something—and live it with passion, with our whole being.”
Noting how our memories have weakened “from the moment that technology started being more present in our lives,” Nikou said he has cut back on his own use of social media and is trying to wean himself off his devices. “Through technology, we have lost many things,” he said. “I believe that we are what we have lived. We are our memories. Without our memories, we lose our existence somehow.”