The news didn’t really take anyone by surprise. At least no one who had witnessed yesterday’s works-in-progress screenings at Karlovy Vary, where Elina Psykou’s film – along with Yannis Sakaridis’ “Wild Duck” – obviously made an impression.
All it took was a few scenes: “Andonis Paraskevas” made everyone laugh out loud before reveling a more solemn side to his multi-faceted personality, introducing a character that made everyone want to get to know him better. The story of a TV persona who stages his own disappearance and shuts himself away in an off-season hotel preparing his big come-back showed off actor Christos Sterioglou at his best in a film that has every reason to stand out.
Shortly before the awards ceremony, Karlovy Vary artistic director Karel Och said he was pleased to see works in progress follow through on their promise and talked about how last year’s work samples are now part of the official program. “Babis’ Makridis “L” was one of them. It started out in Karlovy Vary and went on to travel to Sundance and Rotterdam before it made its way back to us,” he said.
True to its world, Greek cinema won another distinction with homegrown production “The Eternal Return of Andonis Paraskevas” walking away with the newly-established works-in-progress award, consisting of 10.000 Euros in technical support courtesy of Barrandov Studios.
“I’m somewhat at a loss but I’m certainly happy,” said Elina Psykou with a smile upon receiving the award. “It’s my first time at a big festival and it has been a big learning experience. Next time I’ll do it better! As far as feeling a little stunned, it’s because I showed up with this homemade film and suddenly here I am, measuring up against much bigger productions in a world I don’t really know. It’s been interesting trying to take everything in, but it still feels a little funny – in the best sense of the word. I’m sure the award will be a lot of help to “Andonis Paraskevas”, not just because we couldn’t afford to get through post-production but because the screening has already generated a lot of attention.”
“Wild Duck”, Yannis Sakaridis’ first full-length effort, made an equally good impression, a political film about a man who seeks the truth behind a series of illegal telecommunication antennas.
“It’s hard screening a sample of your work when you’ve only just gotten started,” says the director. “We’d only been editing for two days when I sent in the clip, so the sheer fact that we’re here means a lot.” According to Sakaridis, the pitching process “was a great experience because we were competing against some very strong films from a geographic region that has always interested me. “Wild Duck” garnered very positive reactions and we’ve already been approach by festivals and sales agents. It’s something that makes you feel confident, like you’re part of a more universal experience although it’s still too early to tell.”
Against all odds, Greek cinema continues to be a defining voice in world cinema, offering up one pleasant surprise after the next. And that’s not just national pride talking. Trade publication Screen International spoke very highly of both projects, saying they were some of the most stylish and interesting festival entries so far. And it looks like there’s more on the way. All signs point to the direction of a possible distinction for the “Boy Eating the Bird’s Food” by Ektoras Lygizos, scheduled to receive its world premiere the day after next as part of the official competition section, generating a very positive buzz.
All that’s left to do is keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best…