Vasilis Kekatos, who won the Palme d’Or and the Queer Palm at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019 for his short film “The Distance Between Us and the Sky,” is prepping a TV series centered on an unwanted pregnancy in a provincial Greek town.
An eight-episode limited series, “Milky Way” follows 17-year-old Maria, a high school senior with dreams of becoming a dancer, whose starry-eyed plans for the future are put on hold when she gets pregnant by her boyfriend Tasos, a young layabout who’s spent 10 years working at the only gas station in town. Though family and friends are quick to show their support, anticipating she’ll do what’s expected of her and become a mom, Maria must decide if she wants to terminate the pregnancy rather than give up on the life that she always imagined for herself.
At its core, Kekatos told Variety during the Thessaloniki Film Festival, “Milky Way” is the story of how a teenage girl “opposes what her surroundings are trying to impose on her as right and moral, in order to find her own path in life and claim the self-evident right to self-determination.”
In developing his first series, Kekatos was inspired by his childhood on the island of Kefalonia, a place far removed from the bright lights and pulsing life of Athens, where time ground to a halt each year with the onset of winter.
“It wasn’t easy being a teenager stuck there – in the boredom and the monotony of everyday life. In a place where nothing ever happens,” he said. “The only way of escaping was dreaming of different universes, imaginary galaxies where life could be a landscape of possibilities.”
The director recalled being surrounded by other dreamers like himself, among them female classmates whose plans for the future were often cut short by unwanted pregnancies. “I never stopped thinking about them,” he said. “I always reflected on everything that was taken away from them, and when we run into each other after years I can see all these unused possibilities dancing around them.”
“Milky Way” is produced by Foss Productions, in association with plays2place productions and in co-production with Mega TV. The series is currently in pre-production, with principal photography set to begin in December.
Kekatos said the series would address what he sees as a shortfall in Greek television, where both financial constraints and conservative social mores have prevented “youthful and daring content” to flourish.
“I would like our series to change that,” he said. “From now on, I would like people my age, or even younger, people with groundbreaking ideas, to get the green light to fulfill their vision. I would like the industry to trust the new generation, the new one that comes with the momentum to change what we knew. Because the audience has proven to be there. Open to all proposals, willing to listen, to see, to feel.”
Kekatos is also currently financing his debut feature film, “Our Wildest Days.” Produced by Greece’s Blackbird Production and France’s Tripode Productions, it follows a young woman who leaves her dysfunctional family to follow a group of romantic outsiders through a shattered Greece. Kekatos, who described the film as “a rough yet romantic coming-of-age story,” hopes to commence principal photography in fall 2022.