Greek films in town
The Greek film industry’s renaissance is indeed a fact, and new releases hitting the screens are proof enough. In this positive climate, two more Greek films premiered yesterday at cinemas all over the country.
In an art gallery/bar, a young woman named Anna meets with a man she swears she knows from somewhere. She later remembers that he is her old ballet teacher, Alexandras, who she hasn't seen since she was a child. She goes back to the bar to make sure; and then he remembers: she was his only student who had asked him whether he would return to Greece after he went abroad.
Fifteen years have passed and Anna has grown into a fencing champion. Alexandres' dancing career, on the other hand, has been marred by an injury and he is terribly exhausted. Anna, who lives with her father in the house she inherited from her mother, still bears the childhood scars of being caught in the middle of her estranged parents.
The two wounded souls find romance, as each pays the other unannounced visits and bears small meaningful gifts, careful not to demand or expect too much. An intimate relationship is established, but threatened when Alexandras' stubbornness and Anna's jealousy come into the picture.
Katerina Libridou, a newcomer whose grace is perfect for both a fencing star and young lover, is Anna. Konstandinos Konstandopoulos stars as defeated-by-iife Alexandras, the former dancer with a beautiful voice and enviable mane. Stelios Kalathas is Anna's father.
About the film
"People really have a great inner wealth," says director Loukia Rikaki, "but rarely do they have the luxuryofdevoting the time to look deep inside. Nowadays, people are expected to open up and entrust everything from the first moment," Rikaki explains.
The director wanted to focus on how falling in love can set individuals free. And so Dancing Soul is about a man and a woman who slowly peel away at each other's layers. It is Rikaki's much-awaited third film, following the box office success of her second Rim, Quartet in Four Movements, which hit the cinema five years ago.
The feel of Rikaki’s latest work is unabashedly artistic and romantic; it is a fast-paced film full of poetic dialogue, creative imagery and artwork. And Rikaki is good at achieving these, but also at drawing the kind of natural performances from the actors who keep the film from being too esoteric or only about "style ’.
Since her second film. Rikaki has stage five plays. She feels that this theatre experience has helped her bring increasingly mature characters to the screen. Dancing Soul's leads "fill" their parts with appealing, natural presence. Konstandopoulos (who resembles George Michael off screen) explains that it was hard to act in this film because most of the "action" had to do with remembering the past. The film's atmosphere is conjured through scenes depicting the physicali- ty of the two heroes’ professions, the natural landscape and a continuous presence of music.
Anna appears in excitingly-edited fencing scenes showing her drive and concentration, as well as in blue-tinted flashbacks to a childhood, where her mother made her write "short painful letters, like knives" on her behalf to her father. A series of choreographed dances set close to nature make up Alexandras’ dreams and nightmares: the sounds and images of male dancers in woods and swamps - liberated from urban confinement - make up some of the film’s most dynamic moments.
Rikaki confesses that she has a weakness for things "melo" (dramatic that is). She wrote her script with colleagues Yiorgos Notaras and Nikos Sideris, in a way to suspend the viewers' disbelief, which is at times challenged by things dreamily exotic (talk of Indian traditions. Alexandres' trip to Africa), sentimental (Alexandros explains that a silver ring was given to him by a man whose life is now over and passes it on to Anna), or logistically tricky (Alexandros' injury, Anna finds Alexandros’ picture right away).
But in Rikaki's hands, even the hardest-to- swallow script details become opportunities for great shots full of colour and texture. Rikaki's aesthetic camera takes the viewer to Alexandros' gorgeous Plaka apartment, rustic spots in Achaia and Arcadia, and classical seaside Andros home. "I like beauty in cinema." confesses Rikaki. Just a couple of the film's dever visuals include Anna’s view inside a cup of coffee grinds, as she tells a fortune, and the pair's sensuous looks across chess pieces.
Her film's powerful music and dynamic imagery don't make knowledge of Greek a must (as long as fellow viewer is willing to explain the end).
Note: A CD/CD-ROM to accompany the film will be given out with every 50 tickets sold in theatres.