Filming at the old Athens airport

The sun was shining brightly at the old Athens airport in Hellenikon earlier in the week. Yet the atmosphere inside one of the buildings remained dark and misty, providing the setting for the filming of Theo Angelopoulos’s new film «The Dust of Time.» Behind clouds of dry ice, one could make out the sets, the guardhouses of the US and Canadian borders. Those present were transported back to 1974, the time when the leading character, Eleni, interpreted by Irene Jacob, was crossing the borders in search of her son. Willem Dafoe plays the son, as a grownup, who is presently filming his life story. Shortly before the shooting began, the two actors talked about Angelopoulos’s guidance. The director himself declined making any comments and kept on preparing for the shoot. «Theodoros does not give interviews,» said his protective wife Phoebe Economo-poulou, who deals with everything during the filming. «It is a privilege to be working with Angelopoulos,» said Jacob, who had aged with the help of makeup to fit her role. «It is a moving script that has to do with fragments of history and memory. Handling these concepts in cinema is a challenge and Theodoros does it beautifully, surpassing geographic and chronological borders.» Dafoe described Angelopoulos’s sense of aesthetics as very personal and specific. «As an actor, I like to obey the director’s vision. Angelopoulos has a very particular vision and makes you feel that your service means something.» «In Europe, there is more respect for the directors, whereas in the United States it is the actors and producers who have the power. One would expect that as an actor I would prefer America, but I like working for powerful directors,» noted Dafoe, when asked about the differences in working as an actor in the United States and in Europe. Speaking about how he creates his roles, the actor said it was a combination of improvisation and structure. He insisted that his input in his role in «The Dust of Time» was minimal. «I didn’t create that part. I think it was Michel Piccoli who said that he liked to be a pawn in the director’s hands. Angelopoulos is very specific in how he wants his scenes done. Maybe it is just my taste, but I like to be molded; I enjoy being a pawn in the director’s hands.» Once the last part of shooting, scheduled to take place abroad, is over, Angelopoulos’s production team will race against time so that the film can be ready for screening at the Cannes Film Festival in May.