‘A Blast’: Shortly before ignition at Locarno

Syllas Tzoumerkas is ready to present his new film ‘A Blast’, in competition at this year’s Locarno Film Festival. Shortly before its take off, we get to see images from a film that resembles a head-on collision.

“This film features scenes that could shock the sensitivity of some viewers.” That’s how the catalogue of the 67th Locarno Film Festival cautions the audience, which will get a first look at ‘A Blast’, Syllas Tzoumerkas’ new film, which arrives four years after his most recent effort, 2010’s ‘Hora proelefsis’ /‘Homeland’.

This is a film about all the things that have offended the average person struggling to survive in this world, all the circumstances that have insulted our sensitivities, our dreams and our very dignity in the last decade or so.

‘A Blast’ is ready for its premiere, in competition at Locarno. Just this week, The Hollywood Reporter called it one of ‘5 Things Not to Miss’! We’re ready for the film, ready to be bombarded with its images and information, just a few days before its premiere, ready to watch it embark on its journey and become a part of the world.

The journey itself may have begun a few years back, when in 2012 the screenplay had won the Eurimages Co-production Development Award at the Cinelink forum. From December of that year, Aggeliki Papoulia and Vassilis Doganis began rehearsals for the film, and shortly after Papoulia took up boxing lessons, to be prepared for anything her part might demand.

Driving furiously along the highway in her 4×4, Maria (Aggeliki Papoulia) flees, leaving behind a fire and a suitcase full of money. Yesterday she was an attentive mother and loving wife, now all that lays ahead is this desolate, endless stretch of road. Today Maria has gone beyond the point of no return…

Filming began less than a year ago in Athens and Hamburg. ‘A Blast’ was filmed, edited and picked by Locarno in what seemed like a swift blitz. However, a large part of the film, which involves motorways was done on the Aegean motorway, running through the prefectures of Larissa and Pieria, and on new parts of the motorway still under construction – including the Tempi tunnels, one of which is the longest in the Balkans stretching 6 km long – with the assistance of all the departments of the Aegean Motorway company. That’s where the Dutch stunt crew, a team led by Willem de Beukelaar, came along to take care of the dangerous business. The film is humane at its core and also incorporates elements of action films. As was the case with ‘Hora proelefsis’, many scenes were filmed in ten minute intervals, without cuts.

‘A Blast’ is an international co-production (and one of the films that were left hanging when public broadcaster ERT shut down), which was edited in Germany by Kathrin Dietzel, sound design and mix were handled in the Netherlands by Marco Vermaas, while Graal did the post-production in Athens.

The film’s world premiere will take place on Tuesday, August 12th, in Locarno. Following that it will be screened at the Sarajevo Film Festival, again in competition. In Greece ‘A Blast’ hits theaters this season, by StraDaFilms. For additional information about ‘A Blast’, updates are available at the film’s facebook page and at ablastfilm.com.

Photographs by Panayotis Zeppos

 

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Aggeliki Papoulia, A Blast’s Maria, in the shot that became the film’s poster.

 

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Vassilis Doganis (Yannis). The Greek-French director who presented his short ‘Le Guardien de son Frere’ at the Drama Film Festival of 2012, in his first part as an actor. Along with Aggelik Papoulia they are the film’s protagonists.

 

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Maria Filini (Gogo). The actress, co-creator of the Skrow theater Group and known for performances with them, as well as for Blitz performances (New Order, Cinemascope, Late Night) in her first film role.

 

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Aggeliki Papoulia , Vassilis Doganis, Themis Bazaka, Maria Filini, Sylla Tzoumerkas, Efthymis Papadimitriou , Giorgos Biniaris, at a rehearsal.

 

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Harris Attonis and Aggeliki Papoulia take a break from the shoot.

 

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Maria Filini, Syllas Tzoumerkas

 

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Efthymis Papadimitriou (Kostas)

 

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Themis Bazaka (Mother)

 

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Giorgos Biniaris (Father)

 

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Aggeliki Papoulia getting ready for the big car chase scene

 

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Syllas Tzoumerkas, young Leda Toya and Efthymis Papadimitriou during shooting.

 

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At the garbage-truck parking lot at Pireaus, Maria Filini prepares for her scene.

 

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Maria Filini

 

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Aggeliki Papoulia

 

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Aggeliki Papoulia, Vassilis Doganis

 

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The entire film crew and stunts stunt Sandra Kier, Nicolas de Pruyssenaere and Paul Koops during the car scene, at the entrance of the Aegean Road tunnels.

 

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Syllas Tzoumerkas, Aggeliki Papoulia at Litohoro.

 

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 Aggeliki Papoulia