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Greek Cinema

Greek Cinema-Luton, a film by Michalis Konstantatos

"Now more than ever we need to talk to each other, to listen to each other and understand how we see the world, and cinema is the best medium for doing this."

Martin Scorcese

There's something quite distinct that happens when you view so many films in one sitting.  A theme seems to surface,  or perhaps a symbol, or even a particular colour, whereby you could swear that the filmmakers were all working from a universal mindset.  The New Wave of Greek Cinema is dark, grey, troubled, full of turmoil and characters that are detached and uncomfortable in their chosen landscape, never at peace or at one with their surroundings.  There is a constant sadistic element to the New Wave of Greek Cinema and I wonder if the pain of the population during the crises has desensitised violence and procured sadism, validating it within the realm of cinema, for a hurt society needs to lash out somewhat. 

At times, it goes beyond the crises itself,  questioning the economic philosophies that rule a country or attempt to; a testament of their failure.  Luton, a film by Michalis Konstantatos, 2013 focuses on three individuals, a wealthy highschool student, a trainee lawyer in her mid thirties and a father in his fifties who lead disparate lives full of monotony and grind.

Konstantatos makes sure that their lives are captured in their most mundane and awkward moments, through a voyeuristic lens, only to come together at the end.  There is no doubt that the beginning of the film where the young trainee lawyer is on a treadmill sweating it out, pounding her feet hard on the treadmill and breathing heavily sets the constricting rhythmical pace throughout the rest of the film. 

But, this is what Greek cinema is all about, since the advent of Dogtooth, Attenberg, Wasted Youth; directors have created a voice and a vision that distinctly cries out about the turmoil and displacement that a nation is undergoing. 

I look forward to the Greek Film Festival in Australia which opens in Melbourne and Sydney on October the 15th.  No doubt there will be an exciting array of New Wave Greek cinema as well as some comedies, period pieces and romances for it is not all about the grim and the lost.  As Scorcese says, it is about understanding how we see the world, and no doubt Greek Film directors have had to see their world a little differently to the way we have been seeing ours. 

Stella Dimadis
August 2014


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