‘The Thief’ at the Berlinale

A young woman from Ukraine will save the honor of Greek cinema at the 56th Berlin International Film Festival, which opens its doors on Thursday. «The Thief,» an award-winning short film directed by Irina Boiko, will be screened in the Berlinale’s children’s films competition section. The slim Greek presence will be completed with Giorgos Lanthimos’s «Kinetta» – the film will participate at the International Forum New Cinema section, the festival’s experimental part. Also traveling to Berlin is Christos Loulis, representing Greece in the Shooting Stars section, in which young, talented actors from across Europe come into contact with producers, journalists and other cinema industry folk. With a brief yet fruitful record so far – including two short films and two documentaries – Boiko’s «Thief» travels to Berlin with three awards (including the 3rd State Award). In the film, the camera follows 4-year-old Alexander, an Athenian boy, during his summer vacation in the family village. That’s where his meeting with his 5-year-old female cousin will cause a local riot, as the two kids attempt to break into the local veterinary practice. «It’s a film about childhood innocence. This is what I find moving in children’s films: A person comes into this world and they have to learn to live. It’s this journey from point zero to whatever they will become later on that I find absolutely extraordinary and that’s what I try to explore in my films. At the same time I can’t help but notice that what is straightforward and sensible to us adults is not comprehensible to children. I’m moved by their innocent look, the fact that they enjoy life in a way that we adults have long forgotten,» says Boiko. Children once again take center stage in the director’s new film (the movie might be screened at the next Drama Short Film Festival). Given the storyline – an immigrant mother and a Greek father – inevitably the discussion leads to Boiko’s own journey 11 years ago. What kind of reception did she receive in her new homeland? «I never felt different in the arts world. Daily life, however, is a completely different story. Two years ago I was looking for a house and any kind of discussion I had with owners would come to a halt as soon as they realized that I was a foreigner.» Boiko visits Ukraine often and never ceases to be amazed by the courage and strength displayed by the people there, carrying on with their lives, despite the problems. In the end Boiko did find a house, in Exarchia, her favorite area. And she never stops working. Coming up this Sunday, the director is staging «The Red Sails» at the Marivi workshop in Metaxourgeio. A Russian tale for «young and old who believe in miracles,» as she puts it. At the same time, she is already working on her next film, a documentary on «the kind of moral rules we set for ourselves and the excuses we come up with when we violate them.»

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