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Greek Film Festival Highlights

Hieu Chau

Fri Nov 02 2012


STILL deciding what to watch at the Greek Film Festival? Hieu Chau gives you a couple of options to help ease you into the genre that is Greek cinema. 

The Greek Film Festival 2012 is currently under-way in Melbourne, and doesn’t finish until November 4, so there is still time to catch your first-or second, Greek Film.

International Film Festivals can always be tricky if you aren’t accustomed to that country’s cinematic genre and this makes finding a film difficult-even if you can read the synopsis. 

So, we have pre-screened some for you to ensure you get the best Greek Film Festival experience you can.

Fortunate Son (2011)

In Fortunate Son, Canadian filmmaker Tony Asimakopoulos, who’s career has as a filmmaker has been mostly spent on telling stories that have reflected upon his upbringing, turns the camera on himself and his family.

As the only child of immigrant parents, Asimakopoulos has had to take on a lot having grown up in a household where arguments were the norm. His parents, more often than not, have appeared in the majority of his student films. They, in many ways, have unwittingly become subjects in his short films.

Needless to say, the relationship he shares with his parents is somewhat tumultuous, and it is only further exasperated by the fact he is also a recovering drug user. With a marriage on the horizon, Asimakopoulos tries to reconcile with his parents for the sake of his impending marriage only to be further tested by them.

One would assume that Asimakopoulos’ primary influence as a filmmaker stems from Martin Scorsese. The extracts of Asimakapolous’ shorts included in the documentary are quite evocative and reminiscent of the American director’s early works.

However, perhaps the biggest point of comparison between Asimakopoulous and Scorsese is the fact that Fortunate Son contains shades of Scorsese’s 1974 documentary, Italianamerican.

Similar to Fortunate Son, Scorsese’s documentary focused largely on Scorsese’s ethnic roots as well as his charming parents. Whereas Scorsese takes a humorous approach, Asimakopoulous’ film is a lot more serious and diverges from its initial observations of his parents to becoming something far more personal.

In that regard, Fortunate Son is more than a film about growing up in an immigrant family or an exploration of ethnic roots. It becomes a self-reflective piece of filmmaking about a man trying to do right by his parents.

Fortunate Son is an engaging feature on all levels that’s emotionally stirring. A deeply heartfelt film.

City of Children (2011)

Told over the course of an entire day, City of Children takes place in modern day-Greece. It follows four couples dealing with pregnancy in some form or another. Keeping the current socio-economic landscape of Greece in mind, the film in some ways tries to address the current state of the country by showing a clear class divide between each couple.

Additionally, news reports of the economic status of Greece occasionally make their way into the narrative, reminding the audience of the time and place in which the film takes place in.

City of Children weaves in and out of the lives of each couple with certain stories feeling substantially stronger than others. And while the common thread of pregnancy is what ties each story together, the overwhelming sense of helplessness in the film makes it an admittedly difficult watch.

While similar films like Requiem for a Dream or 21 Grams have, more or less, successfully capitalised on creating intrigue around characters and the larger narrative, City of Children seems a bit lost in its direction at times. But perhaps that was the intention of director Yorgos Gikapeppas, as if to use the film’s squandering to further address the disorder of modern-day Greece.

Having said this, what City of Children manages to accomplish in terms of its acting talent is rather outstanding. It’s a talkative feature but the actors are competent and shine in their roles.

Particularly noteworthy is actress Kika Georgiou. In the film, she plays an Iranian immigrant on the verge of giving birth. Her story is perhaps the most tender and much more emotionally eclipsing than the others, evidenced in the final moments of the film where we are given a glimmer of salvation.

Of course the bigger question at hand here is whether or not bringing a child into Greece’s current turbulent climate is worth it. A crazed gunman in the film proclaims, “People are going crazy. Terrible things are about to happen.”

With police and protesters in Greece consistently initiating violent protests, the question must be asked: is raising a child in a declining economic landscape too much of an overbearing responsibility? And would Greece’s crisis end in hope or tragedy?

City of Children offers both possibilities but leaves the decision up to you.