THE Greek Film Festival 2012 is already under way in Melbourne, but don’t worry, you have plenty of time to immerse yourself in Greek cinema. Hieu Chau gives you the history and tells you what’s on.
With the Greek community being one of the most dominant cultures in Australia’s multicultural society, it should come as no surprise that the Greek Film Festival has enjoyed a successful and lengthy run. This year will mark the 19th year that the Greek Film Festival has been active.
When discussing the great national cinemas of Europe, countries like France, Italy and Germany immediately spring to mind. Major discourse surrounding Greek cinema in the western world has been few and far between. After a turbulent beginning in establishing its own national cinema, Greece started producing steady work in the years to come following the Greek civil war.
Perhaps the most well-known and respected filmmaker to have come out of Greece is Theo Angelopoulos. His films have been heralded as works of art and have been praised worldwide by people like American director, Martin Scorsese, who proclaimed Angelopoulos as a masterful filmmaker. Sadly, Angelopoulos passed away earlier this year on January 24th when he was hit by a motorcycle while working on a new film. To honour his memory, the 19th Greek Film Festival has organised a screening for Angelopoulos’ 1988 film, Landscape of the Mist – a retrospective screening you shouldn’t miss.
In recent years, Greek films have enjoyed a revival of interest amongst international audiences thanks to filmmaker Girgos Lanthimos. His polarising film Dogtooth earned numerous accolades and was also given a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards in 2010. In addition to heralding the arrival of a bold filmmaker, Dogtooth also introduced what pundits have proclaimed as the Greek weird wave. The term has been used to categorise films that have a unique and surreal visual and storytelling aesthetic with similar traits and stylistic conventions established by Lanthimos.
His latest, Alps, will be screening at the Greek Film Festival and contains similar striking imagery and pathos as his previous endeavour. The film revolves around a group of people who stand in as a replacements for the recently deceased, allowing those left behind a way to deal with their grief. The film is mostly quiet and is a fairly sombre affair. It’d be tough for a film such as this to be able to see a release outside of film festivals as what’s presented will only have a limited appeal to those who are willing to pay full attention to it.
Alps certainly has a mystifying quality about it which can be attributed to the unusually alluring aesthetics Lanthimos uses in telling the story. The stoic nature of the film provides a somewhat unsettling feeling all throughout. With barely any camera movement and some rather strange behaviour from all the characters, Lanthimos has certainly carved a niche audience for himself with the work he has produced thus far. It’s an intriguing feature to say the least and one that definitely arouses interest within both the works of Lanthimos as well as what Greek cinema has to offer. And what better way to further explore contemporary Greek cinema than by attending this year’s Greek Film Festival?
The 19th Greek Film Festival will be held in Melbourne between October 17th to November 4th at the Palace Cinema Como in Prahran. The full program, session times and ticketing information can be found directly at the official website for the 19th Greek Film Festival