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BERLINALE 2014 Forum

Berlinale: At Home offers an alternative viewpoint on the Greek crisis

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- Karanikolas’ second consecutive Forum entry presents the Greek crisis through the eyes of an ailing immigrant worker

Berlinale: At Home offers an alternative viewpoint on the Greek crisis
Maria Kallimani and Zoi Asimaki in At Home

They say that crises are full of opportunities, and one that has been emerging in the recent history of Greece is the chance it offers employers to use the more relaxed working regulations to their advantage and turn dire economic times into an excuse for letting people go.

Although that topic may not be at the centre of Athanasios Karanikolas’ narrative in At Home [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, it’s a thread that jumps out at you as the director gradually unveils his story of Nadja (Maria Kallimani), the loyal and beloved Georgian housekeeper of an affluent Greek family of three, whom she has been taking care of for over a decade. The lady of the house (Marisha Triantafyllidou) boasts about how excellent she is, while the husband (Alexandros Logothetis) is relieved to have his daughter (Zoi Asimaki) raised under the care of someone who speaks “proper Greek”. But when Nadja’s health starts to fail, things rapidly turn sour.

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Speaking to Cineuropa, Karanikolas dubbed the film a “worst-case scenario for an immigrant worker who was never officially hired for work, has no social security, no health coverage or benefits, and suddenly finds herself with nothing”. His delicate direction portrays the family in stark colours, never vilifying them, yet thoroughly stigmatising their bourgeois indifference.

And while Nadja harbours only the most tender of feelings towards the people she’s come to think of as her family, when push comes to shove, the father makes the situation crystal clear to his wife: “She’s not family; she just works for us.” Kallimani’s nuanced performance complements Karanikolas’ delicate drama, while DoP Johannes Louis’ camerawork adds a dry sense of danger to the director’s sun-drenched frames.

A Greco-German production, At Home was presented at the Thessaloniki Agora Works in Progress in November 2013 and is having its world premiere at the Berlinale Forum on Monday February 10. 

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