Anemistiras: Now I’m in charge
by Vittoria Scarpa
- The debut feature by Greek-born director Dimitris Bitos, a psychological thriller in which a girl takes her parents hostage, was screened at the 16th European Film Festival in Lecce
“We will be one big happy family, right Dad? Right Mum?” In front of the camera, seated and unmoving, are Alkis and Machi, who answer the questions of their eleven-year-old daughter, Lemonia. But this is not just any old family portrait. “You won’t argue anymore and we’ll go back to being like before, right?”. Alkis and Machi look straight ahead, their breathing becomes heavier. Lemonia has a grenade in her hand. After witnessing her parents argue for the umpteenth time, threatening separation, she decides to lay down some rules of her own, and whilst practically holding them hostage, is determined to make them do what she wants, for once, perhaps the first time. This is the explosive opening of Anemistiras [+see also:
film profile], the debut feature film of Greek director Dimitris Bitos, in competition at the 16th European Film Festival in Lecce (13-18 April 2015), a psychological thriller in which the lead is a young girl who, faced with the break-up of her family, decides she won’t just stand by and watch, quite the opposite.
Through flashbacks, we see how things have escalated to this point. We enter the home of the family on the outskirts of Athens (the mother is played by Irini Drakou, the father by Yorgos Valais, the daughter by Danae Androulaki) and bear witness, moving from one room to the next, to their daily lives, their moments of silence, their outbursts of rage, their unhappy faces. The camera stays on them, often without moving, capturing every detail. Meanwhile the questions of Lemonia ring out (“Daddy, why are you angry with mummy? Mummy, why do you want to leave daddy?”), in a repetition that becomes increasingly hypnotic. Then, like a little director, the girl starts ordering her parents around: she tells her father to brush her mother’s hair, forces them to drink a toast, to tell each other ‘I love you’. “Isn’t it nice to all go on holiday together?”, says Lemonia whilst forcing Alkis and Machi to pack their bags.
“The break-up of the family is very common in Greece, as a result of the economic crisis”, explained the director (who is also an actor and the founder of theatre company ASIPKA) when he presented his film in Lecce. “In the film the little girl dreams of her family being united and communicative, and hopes that everything will change. The scenes are slow in pace, somewhere between a fairy tale and reality, between film and theatre”. The film contains lots of elements of magic realism, which lead us to doubt the very existence of Lemonia. “The little girl reminds her parents of her point of view, which up until then they have perhaps never taken into consideration. What is certain is that they will be brought back together”. Anemistiras, in Greek, means fan: “a refreshing, renewing force”, concludes Bitos. Just like this original and brave first feature film then, in which a daughter’s rebellion throws the rulebook out the window, inviting us to leave the past behind us and start afresh.
(Translated from Italian)