Throughout October, Greece is the word in Australian cinemas. That's right, Hellenic-loving cinephiles — it's Greek Film Festival time. Now in its 24th year, the annual showcase of the European country's film output is set to do the rounds once again, highlighting the best contemporary efforts being made across the Aegean Sea.
Accordingly, prepare for the kind of backdrops that'll make you want to book your next holiday, probing insights into the nation's migration situation, and for a few strange and wonderful confusions — they don't call their current spate of movies "the Greek Weird Wave" for nothing, after all. If you're after more, prepare for a snapshot of not only features and documentaries being made in Greece, but a showcase of talent and tales that have spread around the world. To help you whittle down your viewing list, we've picked five must-sees from this year's lineup.
Anything cats can do, dogs can do too, right? If you've ever had both feline and canine four-legged BFFs, you'll know that the latter frequently wants to follow in the former's footsteps. In Dogs of Democracy, that's just what's happening — as anyone who saw and fell in love with Turkish cat doco Kedi will recognise. This time around, it's playful pooches on the streets of Athens that are in the spotlight, in an effort by Greek-Australian philosopher and filmmaker Mary Zournazi. What can the city's strays teach us about tumultuous everyday life? You'd be barking mad not to watch and find out.
Dogs of Democracy screens in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Ever the master of exposing humanity's true nature in unexpected, unnerving and bleakly amusing ways, and of serving up clinical visuals and a commanding tone in the process, Yorgos Lanthimos is up to his usual tricks in The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Of course, where the Dogtooth, Alps and The Lobster writer/director is concerned, there's no such thing as usual. Here, in his second successive feature to star a career-best Colin Farrell, he steps inside the struggles of a doctor whose family is forced to cross paths with the son of one of his patients. Nicole Kidman, Alicia Silverstone and Dunkirk's Barry Keoghan round out the cast — the latter in an astonishing performance — as Lanthimos serves up a savagely accurate exploration of self-interest, sacrifice and the horrors of everyday life.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer screens in Sydney and Melbourne.
There's a reason that filmmakers keep coming back to Romeo and Juliet, or R+J-like stories. Conflict, love, tragedy, heartbreak — even if real life often has a happier ending, the Bard's story of a star-crossed but ill-fated romance captures its ups and downs. Add Roza of Smyrna to the pile following in its footsteps, in a Greco-Turkish tale that blends its amorous affairs with a portrait of relations between the two country. Greek veteran Leda Protopsalti stars as the titular character, a formidable family matriarch whose youthful exploits drive the movie.
Roza of Smyrna screens in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
After making a splash in Chevalier, Greek actor Makis Papadimitriou stars in Amerika Square — and gets immersed in a different kind of battle. Here, he's playing a Greek nationalist in a country still tussling with immigration and refugees, and his character has strong feelings about it. An African singer looking to escape with her tattoo artist boyfriend and a Syrian doctor trying to leave with his daughter also form part of the film's narrative. Exploring the current state of the nation, the powerful drama is Greece's submission for the best foreign-language film category at the 2018 Oscars.
Mumblecore, the American low-budget indie movement that gave us Greta Gerwig, Joe Swanberg, Mark Duplass and more, is going Greek. You won't find any of them in Kissing?, sorry, but you will find a raw, candid effort about the ordinary existence of almost thirtysomethings trying to get by. Yes, Danny (Thanassis Petropoulos) and Stella (Iro Bezou) are navigating the maze of life and love tahat you'd expect; however filmmaker Yannis Korres' feature is made all the more resonant due to his country's economic turmoil.
Kissing? screens in Brisbane.
The Greek Film Festival runs from October 10 to 22 at Palace Norton Street in Sydney, October 11 to 22 at Palace Como and The Astor Theatre in Melbourne, and October 12 to 15 at Palace Barracks in Brisbane. Head to the festival website for further details.