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Cinema

Greek-American Director Lazarus Lazarides on His Film “Butterfly”

NEW YORK – Greek-American director Lazarus Lazarides spoke with The National Herald about his award-winning short film, Butterfly. Lazarides wrote, directed, and produced the film which has been selected to open the Queer Stories retrospective on May 21 at the Maryland Film Festival (MFF), one of the most respected and ambitious showcases of American independent films.

Butterfly was selected among 2,000 film submissions for the MFF which has screened movies by great directors including Gaspar Noe, Kathryn Bigelow, and Barry Jenkins. Butterfly will be available through the MFF virtual festival May 19-27.

Butterfly premiered in July, 2020 at the Maine International Film Festival and was one of ten short films selected to be included in the festival. Director Terrence Malick and cinematographer Roger Deakins are among the past honorees of the Maine International Film Festival. On November 26, 2020, Butterfly won the Best Film Award at the Mexico International Silent Film Festival-FIC Silente. The film has since traveled to the GOYA qualified festival, Zaragoza International Film Festival in Zaragoza, Spain, and to the Thessaloniki International Film Festival in Greece.

This coming fall, Butterfly will be screened in the Video Art & Experimental Film Festival at Tribeca Center in New York.

In the film, a repressed person, living in a city, confronts his internal struggle as it bleeds through into his public persona, creating a collision amongst external social norms, suppressed identity, and the surrealistic worlds of a distressed psyche.

When asked how long the film took from idea to realization, Lazarides told TNH that “it took me one month to write and revise the script, one month and a half for the pre-production, and seven days to shoot the film.”

“The post-production was an ongoing process and took most of the time because the cinematic form of the film and the narrative itself was, in a way, experimental and ‘unbounded,’” Lazarides said. “But there was a clear direction on how I wanted to tell the story through visuals and music. Thus, there was a truly beautiful and inspiring collaboration with the editor, composer, and lead actor of the film.”

As Lazarides noted about the theme of the film, “Butterfly deals with the oppression and racism experienced by a person who tries to break free from social stereotypes attributed to his gender as he follows his path to liberation and reconciliation with his latent identity.”

When asked about his family’s Greek roots, Lazarides, who was born in New York, told TNH, “one side of my family is originally from Athens, and the other side from Piraeus.”

He studied Filmmaking and Philosophy of Film at Royal Holloway University of London. In 2016, he was selected as one of thirteen directors to participate in the Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema's MFA program at Steiner Studios where he was mentored by Amos Poe, the “father” of modern independent American cinema.

In 2019, Lazarides was awarded the Thesis filmmaking grant from the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media, Theatre & Entertainment for his film Lamp Experiment. At the core of Lazarides' filmmaking is a genuine urge to examine and demonstrate current social issues. He is interested in exploring the identity of the individual in contemporary society and has been working extensively on different projects exploring ideas of racism, violence, and social inequalities. He has been working both in fiction and documentary filmmaking, finding an interest in the overlap and interplay of the two forms as well as using emerging forms of media (VR, AR) to expand the cinematic language. Lazarides has screened his films internationally (Maryland, Maine, Zaragoza, VAEFF Tribeca Center, Thessaloniki), and won the Best Film Award at FIC Mexico for his film Butterfly. He was a scholarship recipient of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media, Theatre & Entertainment (2016-2019).

Lazarides has finished the post-production of his two upcoming short films which he wrote and directed, Dreamers Playground, a social drama, and the sci-fi thriller Lamp Experiment, exploring the primitive nature of human violence. For this project, he teamed up with the accomplished Union cinematographer Valentina Caniglia.

Currently, Lazarides is in production for his first feature film, This Is (Not) an Alex.

Lazarides’ mentor, Amos Poe, the “father” of modern independent American cinema, said of Butterfly, “Wow! Spectacular. A butterfly is a self-propelled flower – they say. Great work, and the lead actor is terrific; he carries it all with extreme dignity and emotional poetry. Also edit and sound design – WELL DONE.”

Butterfly Cast & Crew

Writer, Director: Lazarus Lazarides

Director of Photography: Fan Chao Meng, Lazarus Lazarides

Editing: Nikos Apostolopoulos

Original Score, Sound Design: Adriana Norat

Sound Mixing: Roney Giah

Set Design, Wardrobe: Catherine Walsh

Producer: Lazarus Lazarides

Associate Producer: Karolina Stellaki

Co-Production: Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema -Steiner Studios

Cast

Starring Wesli Spencer

Maya Jasmin Szost

Daniela Tolmazin

Jose Ignasio Gomez

More information is available online: www.lazaruslazarides.com and http://www.butterflyshortfilm.com/.

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