See you in “September”

Although shooting is still halfway through, Penny Panayotopoulou opens her heart – and the editing room door – to Flix about “September”, her first film in ten years. The back-to-school fever proved nothing less than contagious and here we are, sharpening our pencils, itching for a new school year – and a new beginning. Ah, the joys of a blank slate!

Ten years after her feature debut “Hard Goodbyes: My Father”, Penny Panayotopoulou is back with “September”, a tale of urban alienation, loss and understanding, camaraderie and broken dreams.

Anna is a 30-year-old woman who lives alone with her dog. Idiosyncratic and self-sufficient, she’s happy enough with her life until her dog dies and she loses direction. She suddenly finds herself looking around her, inside her and across the street to a neighboring family who lives a completely different life to her own. She knocks on their door, hoping they will let her burry her dog in their garden, the only patch of land in their cement neighborhood. The two women and get to know each other and silently acknowledge the fact that they are alone. Each yearns for the other’s life, because no matter what choices you’ve made in your life, there’s always something you’ve left behind. And every September, the wound begins to itch and you start dreaming about a blank slate – only this time you might actually get one!

With shooting only half way through, Penny Panayotopoulou entrusted us with some raw footage from “September” (used in the interview video below) and spoke plainly about how it feels to make a comeback after 10 years in the trenches.

“Time flies, you know” she says with a smile. “My first film came out in 2002 and until 2005 I was travelling around the world, attending festivals. I was laboring under the illusion our tie wasn’t broken yet. And then suddenly I went numb, it was like filmmaker’s block or something… I still had ideas but I always stopped myself from ever pursuing the adventure of a new film. And one day, you wake up and you realize it’s been ten years! But it wasn’t time wasted, nor did I spend it silence. Now that I’m on set, it really doesn’t feel like I’m only making my second feature…”

But a lot has changed in the last 10 years. Digital filmmaking has become the norm, liberating directors from the huge expense of 35mm film, while on the other hand the credit crunch demands more sacrifices and more imaginative solutions than ever before. As Panagiotopoulou mentioned in a round-table discussion with five other directors hosted by Flix, even the simplest idea requires some kind of funding. “You can’t tell your crew and actors to work for free. You can’t look them in the eye, day in and day out, and ask them to do things for you when you know you can give nothing in return.”

Penny Panayotopoulou is an emotional conversationalist who’s not afraid to speak her mind and this wonderful combination is what makes “September” so compelling.
“It’s a very simple, quiet film, with no big messages but it never takes the easy way out,” she says. “It’s an old-fashioned movie in that we weren’t afraid of expressing powerful emotions in a cynical age. It’s a lot like the month of September: melancholic but full of promise, the hope of a new start. September is like weeping into the sea. And that’s exactly what this film is about…”

Click play to see the first rushes of the film, along with a heartfelt interview courtesy of Penny Panayotopoulou.

September – Info

Director: Penny Panayotopoulou/ Screenplay: Kallia Papadaki, Penny Panayotopoulou/ Script Editor: Jan Fleischer, P. Christopoulos/ Director of Photography: Yorgos Michelis/ Editor: Petar Markovic/ Sound Engineer: Dinos Kittou/ Set Designer: Lilly Kedaka, Eva Goulakou/ Starring: Kora Karvouni, Maria Skoula, Dinos Diamandis, Christos Stergioglou, Gioulike Skafida, Nikos Arvanitis, Anna Kalaidjidou, Anastasis Tzertzemelis, Irini Kollakou and Kenzy (trainer: Nikos Vavatsikos)