Asimina Proedrou, was the undisputed star of the annual Drama Short Film Festival. She won the festival’s big award for ‘Red Hulk’. But even before Proedrou was honored, she had gained the admiration of those present, for the way she dealt with neo-fascism in the short duration of her urgent and thrilling film.
31 year-old Asimina Proedrou’s ‘Red Hulk’ was the most talked about film in Drama this year. Its timing was eerie.
The fact that the film was shown on the evening of September 17th, coinciding with the tragic murder of Greek hip-hop artist Pavlos Fissas by members of the Golden Dawn party in Keratsini, was a sad, unfortunate and ironic coincidence.
And while social media sites were on fire with grueling details of the neo-fascists’ violence and how they had assassinated the 34 year old artist, at the Olympia theater in Drama, festival audiences were gathering to watch the story of George, nicknamed ‘Red Hulk’. In the film, George decides to fill the void of free time in his everyday life by becoming a member of a nationalist group.
There is nothing more chilling – but also, in some perverse way, hopeful! – than watching real life meet film. In just 26 minutes, the latter manages to illustrate the horror, without ever falling into clichés of outrage or the banality of moralizing and being righteous. It just asks why and tries to make sense of things.
Only a year ago, at this very festival, Konstantinos Karamagioli’s ‘Sphinx’ was first screened. It was essentially the first film that seriously dealt with the ‘Golden Dawn’ phenomenon, at a time when most people were still investigating the ‘party’ with hesitation and curiosity.
This year, ‘Red Hulk’ takes matters forward, and talks about the country’s biggest open wound, and how some of its people seem to take pride in the country’s ‘glorious’ fascist past. We see common criminals that live among us, under the auspices of the Greek government, murdering immigrants, minorities and Greeks with the same speed their popularity has increased in polls.
Talking to Asimina Proedrou you feel a kind of awe; not only for her courage to depict the problem of neo-fascism in Greece, as it is flourishing, but also for the way she feels discomforted by the fact that people have tried to connect her film with recent events. The young director is wary of anyone that may think she is taking advantage of terrible current events to become the talk of the town or to win an award.
Believe us, if you see ‘Red Hulk’ you will realize that this film was born out of a greater need. It has an urgency about it. It wishes to do more than merely document the here and now.
Flix: Why did you make this film? Why now?
Asimina Proedrou: I started it as an exercise for a class, in January 2012, when we were asked to make a short film about a murder. That’s when I started thinking about the story, which began evolving. It took its final form months later, from September 2012 onwards. By the end of the year, I had completed the screenplay, which became the script for my dissertation project. The idea was clear. Racism and xenophobia and organized groups are themes which interest me.
F: Did you ever consider not making the film?
A.P.: No, never. It was constantly on my mind. I had to take a stand, in one way or another.
F: Was your brother Frixos Proedrou your first choice for the role of ‘Red Hulk’?
A.P.: When the film was still in its early stages, as a school exercise, I rehearsed with my brother and realized that he had a certain quality I was looking for; his reactions were expressive, he had the kind of body I wanted my protagonist to have and exerted violence in the way I wanted to show it. When I began writing the script for my dissertation, I thought he could possibly star in the film. I did a casting with actors and amateurs and had a hard time deciding. I always came back to my brother. He was ‘Red Hulk’.
F: Are you afraid, for having attached your name to this kind of film?
A.P.: The truth is nothing specific has happened to me to make me worry. I do realize that this is an issue. But I wouldn’t change anything about it. Since I wanted to say this, I was going to say it.
F: How did you feel about the fact that the film was shown in Drama at the exact same time as the murder in Keratsini?
A.P.: I found out the next morning. Some friends told me. Apart from the tragedy of the events, and everything I felt, I didn’t want the film to be connected to it. I felt bad, because no one wants to use something like this to get exposure. What happened in Keratsini was tragic, but all these things were going on before that night. Only this time, the victim was a Greek. Let’s not kid our selves, racist and fascist crimes are carried out all the time against people, especially against immigrants.
F: Someone gets the impression, watching ‘Red Hulk’, that you are interested in a kind of political cinema, which hasn’t been made to preach or to point the finger, but rather to understand. Do you think a film like this could in any way help, against neo-fascist phenomena?
A.P.: I’m not only interested in making political films. And obviously my film can’t have the same kind of impact as a feature length film. However, I do believe that each and every artist, and film-maker, has an obligation to take a stand for things that matter.