“For the Greeks, disorientation is a national disease”
by Valerio Caruso
- Conversation with a filmmaker who tries to reflect the soul of a Greek man and his absurd need to define himself only through his nationality
Cineuropa: Plato's Academy [+see also:
interview: Constantin Moriatis
interview: Filippos Tsitos
interview: Filippos Tsitos
film profile] shows an identity clash between different communities. Why did you choose this theme?
Fillipos Tsitos: The theme chose me. I have been always attracted to stories about disoriented males in their 50s. And for the Greeks, disorientation is a national disease. The real life crisis for a Greek happens the moment he realizes that Socrates was not his uncle and Pericles was not his father. A real shock… A friend had an idea about making a film about a Greek learning that he is actually Turk. But I thought this would be terribly political correct and I changed the nationality to Albanian - the worst thing that could happen to a Greek patriot.
Is it close to your personal experience?
The disease and the life crisis mentioned above are very, very familiar to me. Apart from that, the rest is fiction. Except for the insomnia, the weight called “parents”, an affection for the status quo, and the fact that my grandmother had a stroke and used to ask me from time to time: “Excuse me, sir, who are you?”
Does Plato's Academy reflect the Greek society of today?
Plato’s Academy tries to reflect the soul of a Greek man, the realization that his life is empty and his absurd need to define himself only through his nationality.
The movie has a very classical structure, in terms of uniting time and place. Do you always conceive your movies this way?
I prefer to tell stories that happen mainly in one place and within a short period of time. But it is actually the idea and the development of the scriptwriting that dictate the when and the where. In Plato’s Academy we wanted to express the characters’ immobility, their lethargy. One should have the feeling that life there stands still. That’s why we don’t move particularly often from one place to another. The characters’ days are so similar that you don’t have the feeling that time moves forward.
What does it mean for you to be among the three finalists of the Lux Prize?
I could say that it would be recognition that the film deserves but I will be honest: In these very difficult times for arthouse moviemaking and the much harder times Greece is experiencing, all help is welcome! Nowadays, making small, independent, non-English speaking movies can be compared to swimming in a wild ocean at night: You constantly feel you could drown any minute. Therefore, you are thankful for anything that helps you stay out of the water.