NEW YORK – The A.S. Onassis Program in Hellenic Studies at NYU Greek Cinema Today Spring 2017 film series began on February 16 and continues through May 4 presenting the unique vision of contemporary Greek filmmakers every Thursday at 6:30 PM at 12 Waverly Place, room G-08. The screenings are free and open to the public.
The series is curated by Visiting Assistant Professor Eleftheria Astrinaki who introduced the film Ursa Minor by filmmaker Elissavet Chronopoulou at the latest screening on February 23.
Explaining the unique way Chronopoulou filmed this intriguing story, in black and white and entirely from the P.O.V. or point of view of one character, Astrinaki noted that the unusual choice created difficulties for the cast and crew during filming, the actors having to call up powerful emotions while facing the camera alone and not the face of another actor.
The resulting film challenges the viewer with its subject matter almost more than its style. The audience is drawn into the story and forgets about the cinematic experiment. The synopsis of the film, written by Chronopoulou explains, “In a cheap by-the-hour hotel, a man is being arrested while the unconscious body of a woman is being transported to the hospital.
Cruising the heart of Athens, in the back seat of the patrol car, on his way to the police station, the man is recalling the last few months. From the day they first met, at the same hotel, until the dramatic end of their relationship, the morning of his arrest. In the meantime the effort of two people to love each other.”
The film is thought-provoking and unsettling as it comments on modern Greek society and the current situation in Greece. Audience members sat stunned for a moment before they could discuss this film that raises many questions and offers no easy answers. The brutal realities of life are somehow transcended for a moment in the connection between two people, but we already know where the road leads for the characters. The unflinching reality is brutal, like the times we live in.
The city of Athens is also a character in the film, the streets stark in black and white recalling the cinema of the past but with a difference. The mark of austerity is everywhere, and yet the people somehow have to go on with their lives.
As Astrinaki noted, Greek cinema is enjoying an unexpected flourishing in the age of austerity with two Oscar nominations and several awards in the most prestigious festivals in the world. Greek filmmakers strike back and raise their voices with politically charged films. The series focuses on contemporary Greek cinema including the latest features and documentaries made in Greece and directed by Greek filmmakers.
Upcoming films include Amerika Square by director Yannis Sakaridis on March 2, Ludlow: Greek Americans During the Colorado Coal War by director Leonidas Vardaros on March 9, The Lobster by director Yorgos Lanthimos on March 23, Raw Material by director Christos Karakepelis on March 30, 4.1 Miles by director Daphne Matziaraki and 722 TMX Engineer Battalion by director Yannis Koufounikos on April 6, Spring Awakening on April 13, Golden Dawn: A Personal Affair on April 20, and Park on May 4. More information is available via email [email protected] or by phone 212-998-3979.