Last week I met Yannis Sakaridis and Alexandros Logothetis, the director and lead of a new Greek film called “Wild Duck” that was playing at the prestigious Chicago International Film Festival.
The duo were introduced to me by a dear friend in Athens. I figured, if they were Nick Dimitropoulos’ friends, they couldn’t be ax murderers or weirdos. Well… The latter maybe, if you know Nick. (I love you Nikola!)
Alexandros and Yiannis were in the Windy City to show their film, that had previously been an official selection at the Toronto International Film Festival and more recently at one of Asia’s top festivals that takes place in Busan, Korea.
I won’t give away the film– you’ll have to watch it when it comes out or better yet, buy (read: support!) a copy from iTunes or Netflix when it (hopefully) makes it onto these platforms.
I hosted Yannis at my apartment for a few days– budgets were tight and often non-existent, the traveling director-producer told me.
I wanted to offer him a place to sleep and do my part in supporting Greek filmmaking talent whenever I could.
Yannis is a talented director. His successful film proves this.
And Alexandros is a great actor. I found the latter out from my mom, who got a kick when I called her and told her that I was hanging out with the doctor from the popular Greek series “The Island.”
“Which one?” my mom quickly on her feet with her Greek soaps retorted.
I muted the phone with my hand and asked Alexandros… “Which doctor were you?”
“The one who married the leper…”
He passed my mom’s test. Alexandros was talented indeed.
But this post isn’t about talent. There are a lot of talented people in Greece. It’s about resourcefulness. It’s about wit and know-how. It’s about a desire to exit the crisis, and the mentality of the crisis.
It’s about being ευέλικτος… One of my favorite Greek words meaning flexible– but really, as most Greek words do, meaning so much more… Like adaptable in all situations.
Here you have, premiering in the United States, at the longest running film competition on the continent and one of the most prestigious-amongst-filmmakers festivals in the world– a little Greek film that was made– shot, edited, in the can and already appearing globally at festivals for a mere €32,000.
When Yanni told me I swallowed my tongue. And this was a film that the director of the Chicago Film Festival himself, Michael Kucza, selected personally to be in the festival.
This is resourcefulness.
Yanni and Alexandros called in every favor they had, used familiar and friendly locations (read: free) and even cast family and friends who had never acted before for small parts and extras.
They were hell-bent on making this film. And they did it. They made a world-class film that is now playing before global audiences with a tiny fraction of such a film “should” have cost them to produce.
And here lies the double meaning of this post. This is typical Greek craftiness (not saying this in a bad way! This should not be interpreted as πονιριά)
This is a quality that can help get Greek youth out of the crisis.
Knowing what your resources are– an iPhone, a network of family and friends, a cousin who owns land– anything, depending upon what you’re creating or producing.
And bringing this all together– like Yannis and Alexandros did in their case as a film production– and creating a finished product.
The second message of this post: when you see anything breaking out of Greece– a new food product, a film, a rock and roll band, a new cosmetics line– anything– SUPPORT IT. Give it the legs it needs.
All I did was give Yannis a couch to sleep on. I wish I could have done more. But to him, it meant the world.