The best modern Greek movies are shown at the Berlin Greek Film Festival every year, and they keep getting better. Even though indoor theaters haven’t opened yet, the festival’s favorite site, Babylon, hasn’t shown movies. This year is no exception. People who go to the IRL Greek Film Festival, which is known for its lively debates and contagious energy, will now be able to watch it online.
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Film festivals are always fascinating to be a part of and Greek Film Festivals, as a whole give a moment of joy to its huge range of audience.
Recycling Medea, a 2013 film based on Euripides’ tragedy, is a hybrid gem that blends music and ballet with documentary recordings and insightful modern political commentary. Digger is GeorgisGrigorakis’ first feature-length film, and it is based on a true story about a Greek man who was forced to dig up his own grave. During the 70th Berlinale, the CICAE-winning film Digger was shown in the Panorama section. It tells the story of Nikitas, an owner of mountain forest land in northern Greece who has been fighting a growing industrial company threatening his land. His son Johnny comes home after a 20-year absence and wants his share of the family land. This puts the two men at odds with each other. Even more, power is thrown out of balance when Johnny comes home. In this rain-soaked Western about the plight of those who fight back, father-son relationships are viewed powerfully.
Mila, the last movie in this year’s line-up, is the one that stands out to us (Apples). It was chosen to be the Greek entry for the Best International Feature Film Oscar at last year’s Venice film festival. Christos Nikou’s film was chosen. As a result of a global pandemic, Aris (Aris Servetalis) can no longer be recognized by his family and friends. Aris goes to a state-funded recovery program for people who have been affected by the pandemic. It’s up to people who can’t be claimed to create a new identity by taking pictures and meeting new people on the island where they now live.
Not To Be Unpleasant But We Need To Have A Serious Talk is a movie about a pandemic. Apples is a movie about a pandemic, too. Both of the movie’s main characters are named Aris. However, the fact that virus-related movies are relevant now doesn’t hurt their popularity. It makes them even better. “Apples” is an elegant, intelligent, and quietly powerful masterpiece, and it’s a good movie to watch right now because it’s an excellent way to deal with the bad times. You might not like this movie, but Nikou’s love of the strange (which at times echoes the work of Yorgos Lanthimos, with whom he worked as a second-unit director and script supervisor on Dogtooth) makes it hard not to like it. On the strength of his first movie, Nikou has become one of the most interesting new Greek directors in recent years. The movie’s ideas and charms will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.
Each of this year’s three shorter programs is a treasure trove of talented people, so keep an eye out for the best ones. Bella (ThelyiaPetraki) and Electric Swan (Konstantina Kotzamani) are two of the best movies at the festival, and both of them were shown at the Berlin International Film Festival. Like a fever dream, they show a country that is in transition. Fiction and documentary are mixed but through the lens of a dream.