By Dimitris Bouras
The latest wave of Greek movie output, which started to hit local screens in September 2013, continues this month with two dramas, “Wild Duck” by Yannis Sakaridis and “Standing Aside, Watching” by Yorgos Servetas.
Both directors have opted for unusual gray-sky depictions of Greece in their films, which include images of a dreary country and borrow from the horror and western genres.
Penny Panayotopoulou’s “September” was the season’s opener last autumn, while critically acclaimed “Mikra Anglia” (Little England) by Pantelis Voulgaris is undoubtedly this year’s Greek blockbuster.
“Standing Aside, Watching” follows Antigone, a 30-year-old woman who grew up in the 80s, searching for the key that will help her to restart her life. She goes back to her birthplace, a small seaside town burdened by a law of silence.
In “Wild Duck,” meanwhile, actor Alexandros Logothetis puts on his most mature cinematic performance to date as Dimitris, a lonely and bankrupt telecom engineer. Hired to investigate a phone-tapping operation, our protagonist stumbles across the dramatic personal story of an unknown woman suffering from cancer. His melancholy lightens, bringing a fresh vibe to the film, free from depression.
‘Standing Aside, Watching’
In “Standing Aside” the small-town setting would not be out of place in a modern western. The land is burnt, there are no trees, no sign of the blue skies for which the country is famous. Everything is gray. Antigone (Marina Symeou), an English professor and a woman of grit, leaves Athens due to the economic crisis and returns to her birthplace, where an unpleasant character holds sway in an atmosphere of indifference and lack of enthusiasm, fertile ground for the oppressive authorities. Upon her return, she meets a strange ghostly looking elderly man at a desolate railway station. Later on, she meets an old friend, who is dependent on her married lover, and her ex-boyfriend, who remained behind when Antigone had left for Athens. In the following days she gets romantically involved with a young man who’s under the influence of her friend’s lover. Although the narrative becomes slightly artificial and stilted, the film is saved by Nikos Georgakis’s performance as the town’s despot. Directed by Servetas, the cast also features Giorgos Kafetzopoulos.
“Wild Duck” relies on a combination of drama, horror and a style in which the linear narrative could best be described as a circle’s periphery that gradually expands. The message becomes clearer as the movie reaches its end and information around the hypothesis grows. Bankrupt Dimitris, an expert in communications networking, can feel the moneylenders hot on his heels. Nikos, his best friend and an ex-colleague, asks him to investigate a phone-tapping operation. Dimitris traces the wiretappers to an Athens apartment. In the apartment above the operation lives a woman diagnosed with cancer, who will change Dimitris’s life forever. Recent arrival producer and editor Sakaridis worked with co-producer and actor Logothetis and director of photography Jan Vogel. The cast also features Themis Bazaka and Giorgos Pyrpassopoulos, while the music is by Christos Papageorgiou.