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“A voice of authority can manipulate us and be in control of all our acts”

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Yorgos Zois • Director


- VENICE 2015: Greek director Yorgos Zois explains how he played with conventions in his Orizzonti-selected theatre drama Interruption

Yorgos Zois  • Director

After his shorts Casus Belli and Out of Frame were shown at previous editions of the Venice Film Festival, Yorgos Zois’ first feature, Interruption [+see also:
film review
interview: Daphné Patakia
interview: Yorgos Zois
film profile
, was selected in this year's Orizzonti sidebar. A compelling theatre drama that delves into the tragic abyss of the great Oresteia, the film is an occasion for Zois to play with space and conventions. In Interruption, a group of young armed men and women hijack a post-modern adaptation of Orestes’ myth. In a conversation with Cineuropa, the director explains the challenges inherent in his approach.

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Cineuropa: At some point, Interruption was called Stage Fright. How did the screenplay evolve since you first had the idea for the film?
Yorgos Zois: For me, there were two scripts: the one before the first day of rehearsals and the other before the first day of shooting. Both of them had the same key points in the scenes, but everything else changed, from the dialogue to the actions. This is because I followed a specific route for acting in this film; during the rehearsals, no actor knew the script, only the main hero. We created a special environment in a local theatre, and every actor had to react to the unknown actions of the protagonist and experience the same effect that the real audience would, had this happened for real. And when the shooting began, everybody received their scripts based on the rehearsal improvisations, but there was no third act written. No one knew what would happen; they all found out on the day of the shoot. This method created the slice of life I wanted to achieve. 

Why did you choose Oresteia as the departure point and setting of your film?
Oresteia is a universal myth and still remains alive because it deals with all of these fundamental issues of humankind that concerned me: power, revenge, roles, identity and catharsis. At the same time, it is a story that has been there for thousands of years, and I could not resist the temptation to steal it, because it definitely works! But most of all, Oresteia, from the very moment it appeared, was a mystery to the audience, a theatrical riddle that uses a language that mostly hides and implies. This creates an esteem and bewilderment that can lead to either admiration or rejection. Interruption is haunted by this core of Oresteia, which is the notion of the unknown, which one can only sense and not rationalise. This is one of the deepest levels of the film.

Interruption plays very interestingly with conventions and expectations. Do you think cheating the audience’s expectations is a source of catharsis?
Not at all. Catharsis is a personal, internal procedure that needs the body and soul to be cleansed, and in this film it plays the most important role for the participants as well as for the chorus. Interruption challenges the way we perceive reality and focuses on the idea that we see what we expect to see. Dramaturgically, it uses all the conventions and expectations in cinematic language to reveal that truth is a deception, and how a voice of authority can manipulate us and can be in control of all our acts. The audience in the movie theatre is never cheated. They have all the information needed and the same exact knowledge in the fictional theatre.

Talking of the theatre, how did you control the minimalist set, and what was the biggest challenge it raised?
The biggest challenge was to transform the theatrical set-up into a cinematic mise-en-scène. That is why I used borders, and in fact I tried to dissolve them. Light and darkness, actions happening inside and outside of the frame. My aim was to create a streamlined continuum of dark seats spreading from the cinema seats of the real movie theatre to the dark seats of the fictional theatre. At the premiere, it would feel like the audience of the theatre had merged with the audience of the cinema.

Are you preparing a new feature? What will it be about?
I am now working on a new treatment. The main character of this film is a man who has just been resurrected.

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