ATHENS – It is not easy to label Marina Tsigonaki, also known as Ladydust. She is not just an actor, or a model, or a music producer or a writer. Tsigonaki is all that and so much more. She is an extremely talented, versatile artist with great success in Greece and abroad. Recently, the film The Final Payoff in which she stars, directed by Alexandros Leontaritis, crossed the borders of Greece and reached the American continent. It is available under the title The Final Payoff and can be enjoyed on online platforms and in American cinemas. Tsigonaki spoke to The National Herald about the film.
TNH: The award-winning film The Final Payoff in which you star received distribution in America, and is now online on all major platforms such as Amazon. In fact, it is going to be released in cinemas. What does this mean for a Greek film?
Marina Tsigonaki: For those who know, it is very rare! I think that few films in the history of Greek cinema have been picked up and in fact have received distribution from an excellent American company such as Bay View Entertainment. If you visit their website (www.bayviewentertainment.com) you can see that the movies they choose to represent are from the world pantheon, which is why I say that. In the meantime, we must be the only Greek production they have picked up.
It also means a serious justification for those who believed in the film, especially for its contributors and finally, a great lesson for those who kept their distance, such as the Greek film academy, I am sure it could not even imagine such a development, though in my opinion it should support the Greek cinema much more. The reason I say this is because I remember that the film was not even nominated for categories where it had true potential, such as the Best Actor award. There are impressive performances in it by male actors and a little recognition for such productions that have been made with passion and sacrifices, under really adverse conditions and by people who do not belong to the establishment, would really make a difference and thus encourage more such efforts. But we are talking about Greece where most things unfortunately are controlled by cartels.
TNH: What is the theme of the film, what is the target audience, and what has been its course so far?
MT: The Final Payoff is a social noir action movie that reflects a sadly familiar part of society having to do with corruption, usury, and its consequences. But this is simply the axis: around it unfold characters, unfulfilled dreams and desires, love, the well-known universal cycle of crime and punishment and the struggle of human nature to continue to believe that life is something that ultimately it is worth living.
It is aimed at fans of a similar type of film and in a fairly wide age range.
In Greece, it was distributed and screened in theaters by Film Boy Pictures, it was released on DVD by Audiovisual, while it had already been honored at the World Film Festival in Houston, one of the oldest and most legendary American independent film festivals, receiving the Remi Award.
TNH: In the movie you are Nefeli, a young actress. What does Nefeli have in common with Marina?
MT: The common denominator of Nefeli and Marina is that they both experience the final payoff in their lives but also that they continue and fight despite adversity.
TNH: Lately, we come in contact with the dark side of the entertainment industry. How easy is it for a young person with dreams to survive in this harsh space without losing their soul?
MT: The entertainment industry and especially the Greek theater is unfortunately the one that has emerged publicly through the 'Me too' movement, and in fact, speaking from personal experience of incidents that I have experienced, and much worse than what is being reported by others. That was also the reason why I left the theater and turned to the cinema where things were and are, I think, better.
Now for a young person with dreams, it is in my opinion almost impossible to survive in what is called 'Greek theatrical firmament' without risking being badly burned or losing their soul. One solution could be to be extremely selective about collaborations but again if you do not have a second profession that can provide you with a livelihood (as I had and still have, for example, music), it remains very difficult to be selective.
Ladydust is the trademark of Marina Tsigonaki: www.ladydust.com. Tsigonaki officially entered the field of acting in 2008, although her first efforts were her examinations at the National Theater in 1993.
In February 2021, the movie in which she stars, The Final Payoff, received distribution in America by Bay View Entertainment and is expected in theaters there in the near future, making it, so far, her second feature film released on the American continent, following Magic Men.