Boy Eating The Bird’s Food: The cinema of austerity
by Laurence Boyce
06/07/2012 - The spectre of the current Greek economic crisis looms large in this astonishing first feature that sees realism and allegory sit side-by-side.
An Athens boy is without a job, money or anything to eat. Unable to land his preferred job as a singer (or working at a call centre) our protagonist lives alone in his flat, with bills mounting up and no means of support or sustenance. After being thrown out on to the streets, he resorts to increasingly desperate measures to stay alive. The only thing that he seems to care for in life is his canary, with which he resolutely shares the little food and water that he has.
Boy Eating the Bird's Food is an often difficult and intense film, with director Ektoras Lygizos utilising a handheld camera to follow three days in the slowly fracturing life of ‘The Boy’. This is a film that communicates in ellipses, giving us only snippets of information as to why ‘The Boy’ is living as he is. Ideas of dignity, masculinity and pride are being played with here, as much talking about the Greek situation as it does the boy’s personal predicament. Much of the loose narrative works, but there are times when you feel the reality of the film straining at the expense of the allegory (in particular during some more melodramatic moments in the narrative).
At the centre of it all is Yannis Papadopoulos as the titular character, with an almost wordless performance that is full of despair and barely concealed madness. In every single scene, theintimacy of his portrayal (including a graphic masturbation scene which – rightly or wrongly – is going to be one of the most notorious things about the film in the coming months) is almost uncomfortable but resolutely astonishing.
This is flawed yet, in its imperfection, there’s also something quite raw and beautiful. Whilst it may prove too much for distributors (with the aforementioned graphic scene most likely being adeal clincher or breaker for many) this should be screened on the festival circuit worldwide. Lygzios is a talent to watch for the future.