In ‘Kineta,’ filmmaker Lanthimos mines a desperate search for human contact

Young filmmaker Giorgos Lanthimos is the biggest surprise of the summer. He emerged quietly, without fuss, and his film has been selected for a festival in Toronto, one of the world’s biggest. «Kineta» is essentially his first full-length feature since his previous project, «My Best Friend,» in collaboration with Lakis Lazopoulos. A budding artist and a graduate of the Stavrakos Film School in Athens who went on to work in the advertising industry for 10 years, Lanthimos’s new film is the polar opposite of what one would expect: hand-held camera work and stark, unembellished images. There is no makeup, no artificial lights, no prettified scenery and people. «All the elements are real, but the result is unreal,» he says. «The simple fact that you are filming reality immediately transforms it into something else.» The film was inspired by a wrong turn on the national highway which brought him to the coastal resort town of Kineta on the Athens-Corinth road. Driving in, he saw a hotel which faced the sea and had its back to the national highway. «I thought of a story involving the people in this area,» he says. The characters include a young woman working as a cleaner in the hotel, which is deserted in the winter. The only tenants are a group of Thai laborers who work at the nearby Motor Oil plant. The other characters are a photo shop clerk and a policeman. The connecting link is the policeman who uses the photographer and the cleaner to re-enact crimes that had taken place in the area. The photographer shoots, the cleaning lady plays the victim and the policeman the attacker. «This is not your usual story,» says Lanthimos. «And it is not a crime-thriller either. It focuses on the characters, their relationship, on moments, on the particular traits of their characters, on their desperate efforts to attain simple human contact.»