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Review: Minor Freedoms

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Wild animals in a modern society’s cage


- Based on the narrative structure of a Greek tragedy, Minor Freedoms gradually unfolds its power through raw scenes, resonating performances and an imposing atmosphere

Review: Minor Freedoms

Costas Zapas, deemed "one of the main protagonists of the burgeoning Greek new wave" by the international press, proves admirers right by delivering a whole new perception of cinema and the world it reflects in his latest film.

Based on the narrative structure of a Greek tragedy, Minor Freedoms [+see also:
film focus
interview: Costas Zapas
interview: Gregory Athanasiou
film profile
gradually unfolds its power through raw scenes, resonating performances and an imposing atmosphere. This narrative frame allows the director to bring to the forefront the contemporary demons affecting our lives: authority, family and education.

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Using the story, editing, performances and the film itself as a musical score, Costas Zapas succeeds in creating a unique atmosphere that gradually draws viewer into his characters’ grotesque world. The more intense the scenes become the more involved viewers become in the story, to discover only in the end what it is that comprised the score.

"The hardest thing in art and in life, I think, is the simple thing, as defined by Aristotle. The more you deduct from something, the more beautiful it becomes. In our case, it was the music," said the director.

Set in the Greek highlands, the story presents a violent, domineering man who deals in the trafficking of emigrants and young, Balkan prostitutes. Addicted to drugs and mentally instable, the man’s teenage daughter Fanny succumbs to her father’s violence and ends up working for him as a prostitute. The man also wishes to prostitute his young son, the immature Christos, who is dominated by his father’s violence and engages in suicidal behaviour.

There is a special bond between brother and sister, who have only each other, yet no one admits this. Fanny falls apart day by day but the father maintains his reign as Christos, however, resists. "But in the kingdom of the father, the last word belongs to the king," according to the director.

Minor Freedoms is a grotesque tale of modern routine with the structure of a Greek tragedy. It describes human instincts that oppose mental and emotional corrosion caused by society’s accepted authorities. Every crime in the film is a break from authority. The characters go beyond their boundaries and react like wild animals in a modern society’s cage by taking control of other people’s self-determination. The characters want to define themselves as free people and choose different ways of achieving this. They are neither responsible nor unaccountable for the various crimes that take place within the family.

Marlen Saites delivers an extraordinary performance as a young girl with a lust for life, trapped in her father’s domination. Adonis Papadopoulos is sensational as the brutal man who domineers his children. Alexandros Toundas is also remarkable as the depressed son with the rebellious outbursts.

Costas Zapas creates raw poems through stunning cinematography. He has a unique way of describing a human soul and specifying its needs and characteristics, while reflecting upon the characters their social, political and historical environments through his use of light and refined frames and by uniting all parts of the film into a creative whole. This creative whole serves the universal filmmaker’s vision and does not place it in a certain time or place. It is films like his that remind us how powerful a weapon art can be when made by exceptionally talented filmmakers.

Minor Freedoms was produced by Gregory Athanasiou’s Minus Pictures. World Sales are handled by TrustNordisk. The film’s domestic release is scheduled for December 2008.


international title: Minor Freedoms
original title: Mikres Eleftheries
country: Greece
year: 2008
directed by: Costas Zapas
screenplay: Costas Zapas
cast: Andonis Papadopulos, Marlen Saites, Alexandros Toundas

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