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FILMS Greece

J.A.C.E. tangles immigration drama and film-noir in Thessaloniki

J.A.C.E.  tangles immigration drama and film-noir in Thessaloniki

Coming back from a 14-year ibernation period, Menelaos Karamaghiolis sets his goals high with J.A.C.E. , his follow-up to 1998’s actioner Black Out.

Mixing the immigration drama of a young boy who is trafficked out of his native country of Albania to his fatherland of Greece with the noir intonations of a series of unresolved murders that point to him as the prime suspect, Karamanghiolis crafts a politically charged story of challenging density.

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“The movie happened to be made in a time when its main character’s story has heated political intonations” the director told Cineuropa a few hours before the films European premiere in Thessaloniki, where its vying for the Golden Alexander. “The main reason we made it,” he adds, “was the need of everyone involved to explore how we felt it’s possible to express oneself politically, because our hero’s life is a political act in itself” he added.

It’s typical for Greek film-makers’ debuts to suffer from their directors’ overeagerness to put as much as they can into their film, because they don’t know when and if they’ll be able to make another one. Karamanghiolis' re-emergence seems to suffer from the same effect, with the film clocking in at over two hours and its plot struggling to hold in all the genre tone-shifts the material requires.

But the director begs to differ: “Its much less Freudian than that, in this case”, he replies, “because when you’re doing a sort of biography, even if it’s fictional, the story itself has its own demands of things to stay in and things to be skipped, in order for the character to be believable”.

With the character being portrayed as a man who has denied himself his own voice, his story has certainly been eloquentenough to have the film’s world premiere at the Tokyo International Film Festival last October. And having been a co-production between Portugal, Turkey, the Netherlands and FYROM along with Greece, Karamanghiolis will certainly have a busy schedule with distribution deals already set for most of those countries, even though local deals are yet to be determined.

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