The Origins of Ajax, Currently in Development, Filmmaker Pfeiffer Talks to TNH

Corinth. Photo by Gabrielle Pfeiffer

NEW YORK – Ajax the Movie LLC is currently developing a feature-length film called The Origins of Ajax, an entertaining English-language comedy/tragedy set in Greece. Production is set to begin in the Peloponnese this May. Described as “Little Miss Sunshine set in spectacular Greek landscapes,” the film is intended for audiences of all ages, for U.S. and international theatrical exhibition, and distribution in all media.

A co-venture between New York-based Ajax the Movie LLC and Athens-based Blonde Films, the film follows Ajax, a troubled 27-year-old Greek-American from New York, returning to Greece for the first time since a childhood holiday tragedy. As he and his travel mate set out on a suspenseful, hilarious, and heartbreaking road trip across Greece, Ajax is confronted by funny and terrifying mythological hallucinations.

The filmmaker, Gabrielle Pfeiffer spoke to The National Herald about the film and shared photos she took herself while scouting locations in Greece.

Pfeiffer told TNH, “The project is currently in development and the Greek community has already offered support in a variety of ways.

“Since the film has a number of scenes which are centered around Greek food and the importance of eating together, celebrity chef Maria Loi became interested in the project and has been a great support. She has also agreed to play a delightful, small role as a taverna owner.”

She continued, “Since the story concerns Ajax visiting a number of ancient Greek theaters, I met with Diazoma, the Athens-based association that takes care of ancient theaters across Greece, and worked with their support to identify theaters that fit our story and that we could shoot in. I scouted approximately 12 ancient theaters across Greece and interviewed scholars of ancient Greek theater in Athens.

A location near Kalamata in the Peloponnese where most of the film shoot for The Origins of Ajax will take place. Photo by Gabrielle Pfeiffer

Pfeiffer said, “We are currently seeking funding from various sources. The screenplay is written, the leads are cast, and casting of smaller roles is underway. I am currently interviewing cinematographers, production designers, and other crew members. We plan to shoot the film in May and June in the Peloponnese.”

“I have done three scouting and research trips to Greece, driven some 5,000 km across the country and have identified most of the principal shooting locations, which you can see from the photos. I drove from Athens, north to Thessaloniki, and east to Alexandropouli. More recently, I drove from Athens, east to Evia, and then south to the Peloponnese, where most of the production will take place,” she said.

The award-winning Greek-Canadian actor Steven Koutsomitopoulos will play Ajax in the film. He completed his MFA degree in Drama at the celebrated Actors Studio Drama School in New York in 2018. Originally from Ottawa, he lives some months of each year in Greece and speaks Greek. Pfeiffer discovered Steven in the feature film, Lovers Lost, for which he won Best Actor at the Trinity International Film Festival. She cast him as the lead in her film Stiff. They collaborated on the story for The Origins of Ajax.

Pfeiffer told TNH, “I cast Steven as the lead in my last film and we became friends. He lives part of the year in Samos where his family is from, and we decided to develop a road movie in Greece for him to star in and me to write and direct. We came up with the story together and I wrote the screenplay.”

Epidaurus. Photo by Gabrielle Pfeiffer

Hayat Kamille will play Suha and is a tremendously talented dramatic and comedic Iraqi-British actress who was cast from among 200 actors who were submitted for this role. She is based in London and speaks fluent English and Arabic. Hayat is recognizable from programs and commercials on UK television, in theater and, most recently, from a small role in Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express.

Celebrity Chef Maria Loi will play the Taverna Owner in the film. She is an international ambassador of Greek gastronomy, a restaurateur, and public personality, widely regarded as “the Martha Stewart of Greece.” The author of multiple cookbooks, including the official cookbook for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, Loi is known to be the authority on Greek cuisine. She has cooked at the White House for President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and 250 guests. She opened Loi Estiatorio in the heart of Manhattan to rave reviews.

Christopher Læssø, a Danish actor based in Copenhagen, will play Hilarion. He is best known for his unforgettable performance in the 2018 Oscar-nominated film, The Square. Christopher is a graduate of the Danish National Theater School and is known to Danish audiences for his work in dozens of films and television series, including the international hit series, The Bridge.

Gialova. Photo by Gabrielle Pfeiffer

Principal Producer/Director/Writer Gabrielle Pfeiffer of Ajax the Movie LLC – New York/Berlin is an award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter from New York. She has eight feature film credits as a writer and script supervisor, and 35 director, writer and producer credits for her work on Arte, BBC, Channel Four, Discovery, National Geographic, PBS, and ZDF documentaries. Her films have been broadcast all over the world and won awards at numerous international film festivals. She is a Swiss-American dual national, studied Filmmaking at New York University, and has been based in Berlin since 2000.

Greek Co-Producer Fenia Cossovitsa is the founder of Blonde Audiovisual Productions S.A, a film and television production company based in Athens that has produced numerous Greek and international feature films, major cultural and sports events, television programs, commercials, and music videos. Cossovitsa is an award-winning producer with 25 years of experience in the film and television industry.

Filmmaker Gabrielle Pfeiffer at Epidaurus. Photo by Gabrielle Pfeiffer
Actor Christopher Laesso. Photo: Courtesy of Christopher Laesso
Mani. Photo by Gabrielle Pfeiffer
Actress Hayat Kamille. Photo by Ruth Crafer
Actor Steven Koutsomitopoulos. Photo: Courtesy of Steven Koutsomitopoulos
Celebrity Chef Maria Loi. Photo: Courtesy of Maria Loi

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