No such thing as wasted youth

?Wasted Youth,? a film about a generation which gets disappointed, reacts, rejects, doesn?t care and fights back, opened at local cinemas on March 17. Directed by Argyris Papadimitropoulos in tandem with German filmmaker Jan Vogel, the film raised the curtain on the Rotterdam International Film Festival in January this year and is yet another example of fresh Greek film produce, defined by a desire for taking a closer look at today?s society.

Following his first feature-length film, blockbuster comedy ?Bank Bang,? released in 2008, Papadimitriou has now moved away from the genre, making a film which was inspired by real-life events that led to an explosion of violence in Athens in December 2008.

Neither a documentary nor a biopic, ?Wasted Youth? employs both amateur and professional actors to describe the kind of disappointment and anger that led to the outburst of violence.

Following ?Bank Bang,? what made you want to work on a film with amateurs, with no prior preparation?

There was only one way to make this film. You can make a film in a thousand different ways, but in this case, nothing else ever crossed my mind. Coming up with a proper script and looking for professional actors resembling youngsters was just out of the question. We were after something raw and unprocessed. The story is not the result of some kind of exhausting process, it?s more of a gut feeling, an impulse. Right from the start, Jan and I had agreed to deal with the issue as if we ourselves were beginners, despite our experience. We had decided to go for something more spontaneous, as opposed to working on a film which had been analyzed on paper and storyboards, which is how most films are made.

How did this combination of professional and amateur actors work out during the shooting?

I am very pleased and I think it worked very well for both. There are plenty of scenes featuring both amateurs and professionals. While the amateurs aided the professionals in moving away from their ?actors? take,? the professionals eased the amateurs? initial embarrassment.

Was there a particular moment when you realized that you wanted to do this movie?

Ever since Jan and I met, about three ago, we kept saying how we wanted to make a movie on the current situation. At the same time, we only decided to do the film recently. We decided at Easter last year, just two months before going on location.

Though not an accurate description of events, the film was clearly inspired by the events of December 2008. Do you think that enough time has elapsed for the story to go on screen?

Any kind of event that you feel is of major importance may inspire you to do something at any particular time. The film doesn?t narrate an event, we were inspired to talk about where we were heading to under the circumstances. And also where it could all lead to.

Were there any reservations regarding the story before going on location?

What we shot was the product of discussion between me and Jan and a couple of other collaborators. We kept it within a tight inner circle. There are elements in the plot which we don?t wish to divulge, because we want to spoil the film for the viewers.

Does the film?s title represent your opinion of today?s younger generation?

Not at all. It?s the kind of image that grown-ups have of the younger generation. However, this not what youth looks like. Youth is never wasted. It?s the greatest and most hopeful part of society. It is the only unadulterated part of the society. They are the ones who have yet to dirty their hands and souls. Those who are wasted are the 40- and 50-year-olds who have changed, because the kind of hope that they might have nurtured at one point was subsequently sold and spent.

Is there any hope that this generation won?t be wasted?

There is. Especially the younger generation which I got to know better. Adolescence is the same across generations. The point is what comes after that stage. There are only small differences between my own adolescence and the one experienced by the kids I came across, with the exception of technology and the feeling of prosperity that my generation enjoyed. Right now, young people are only hearing about the prospect of being unemployed and never getting a pension.

How is it possible to react in such a climate?

As far as the young are concerned, it?s a natural need, an impulse. A young person who doesn?t react is wasted.

How do you think audiences will react?

I believe that the public will understand the film, they will see a familiar picture which is rarely captured on film. A more realistic depiction of Athenian society today. When the film was screened in Rotterdam there was good feedback, I felt that audiences grasped the issues and that these issues are common to other countries as well. Us Greeks, we think that we are the only ones who find themselves in such a mess, when in fact the same stuff is going on elsewhere as well.

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