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Politics

Greece’s Top Film Hit Comes to NY: Director Papakaliatis on Worlds Apart

January 6, 2017
PenelopeK

Worlds Apart, the film that rocked Greece, breaking box office records and ranking No. 1 over any film there in the last decade, is ready to win new audiences in the US.

It opens Friday January 13 at Manhattan’s Village East Cinema, a multiplex on Second Avenue. On January 20, the film will open in Los Angeles at the Arclight Cinema.

With the odds against a Greek film finding distribution in the USA, it is exciting to have Cinema Libre Studio bring this exceptional film to Americans.

Writer/Director/Actor Christopher Papakaliatis will be in New York and L.A. for both openings. “It’s scary and exciting. It is always a big surprise and it makes you feel nice when people enjoy what you have been working on and creating,” he says.

Worlds Apart offers an authentic and heartfelt movie-going experience, with its three intertwined love stories coming together in one extraordinarily moving story set in Greece today.

The exceptional cast assembled from around the world includes USA Oscar winner J.K. Simmons, as well as Andrea Osvort, a leading Hungarian actress, the famous Greek actress, Maria Kavoyianni, and a young Israeli actor, Tawfeek Barhom.

“I’ve been extremely lucky with this movie because I have these amazing actors,” Papakaliatis says. “I actually got the idea for the film when we were doing a Q&A here in New York for What If. Somebody in the audience asked me if I had ever thought of bringing foreigners to Greece to create a story.

“It set me thinking. My basic idea was to combine three different stories of three generations with foreigners falling in love with Greeks. But every time you have a love story, you have to have an obstacle. So I decided the obstacle would be reality, the political/social crisis that’s not only in Greece but all over Europe.”

Is Worlds Apart a comedy or a tragedy? “It’s life,” he says. “I like to laugh. I like to cry. We have from the moment we are born until the end when we leave this world all the colors of life. So in this movie you laugh a lot but you cry a lot. But don’t say what happens!”

He adds: “The good thing about this film is that that audiences all over the world understand the movie. They not only enjoy the movie – but it stirs their emotions. The film is bilingual because I wanted to tell the story from the Greek side and the foreign side.”

Papakaliatis grew up in Athens, part of an extended and close-knit family, none of them involved in film.

“Even as a child I knew what I wanted to do. I was the little kid who would get up to perform. Even if they didn’t put me there, I would go. I started working as a teen actor when I was 16. When I was 18, I took my SATs and went off to Boston University. I stayed there for a week, but I missed Greece so much and things were going so well for me there – I was living my dream – that I decided to return to Greece and go to drama school there. I continued working even when I was in school.

“When I was 22, I decided to write my own scripts. When I was 25, I wanted to direct. I’m 41 now, and I have been working for 25 years. I have to tell you that I have been extremely lucky with all of my projects, and with this movie.”

Early on in his career, he was constantly being asked what his main goal was – acting, writing or directing? “I finally realized that you don’t have to choose. The thing is to work hard and to be able to give one hundred percent in all these roles.”

For Papakaliatis, his ultimate goal is to “create stories. To create films. I want to be happy with something I create. I react like an audience when I write, when I direct. I am the first one to go to buy a ticket to see the movie! I know that theatres don’t have 10 or 15 seats. They have 200 seats.

“You have to respect the audience. It doesn’t mean that you sell yourself. It’s like when you tell a story to someone, you know that someone is hearing you, and you respect them.”

Does he have any opinion on Greek film’s so-called Weird Wave? “I don’t have any opinion on waves. When you like the movie, you like the movie. I liked Lobster very much. When you are an artist you have to be outside the system. You have to be free. It’s like being a kid. I’m in the process of trying to be free. It’s not easy. It’s hard.”

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