Striving for freshness and clarity

«Without,» a film directed by Alexandros Avranas, now in the making, deserves attention for a number of reasons: The forthcoming project is the first full-length feature film by the 30-year-old Avranas, who has already had success as a visual artist. «Without» is also an entirely independent production that has received no external funding. Its plot is anonymous – literally. The film’s characters are left nameless, which, the director said, brings their respective stories closer to viewers. Another interesting aspect is that Constantine Giannaris, director of films such as «From the Edge of the City,» makes his first acting appearance in «Without.» Avranas said it was no peculiar shift for a visual artist to become involved with filmmaking, especially in his case, whose debut full-length film has been preceded by a number of successful short films. «The visual part of things took off by itself because immediately after I completed my studies, I joined Art Athina (a contemporary art fair) and things took their own course,» said Avranas. «But I prefer cinema as a language, because I have a lot more time, as well as imagery, to narrate things in a more complex fashion.» The story of a couple that encounters everyday problems may, at first, not sound particularly impressive. «I was interested in working on a simple and sparse story. However, I think that it also includes other dimensions and levels that open other doors. It addresses anger, oppression, lack of communication, loneliness,» noted Avranas. «The film’s title could well have been ‘Ping Pong’ because all these things have to do with the protagonists. The film’s objective is for it to rest on still-lifes – as in visual art – at points where the details count.» Asked whether he found it challenging to take his film’s sparse script further, especially as a director making his feature-length debut, Avranas said he was challenged but felt that he had cleared the obstacles. «It was very difficult to make progress with such a script. But, ultimately, things worked very well from the onset. The cast realized that it was faced with a challenge in a style of filmmaking that transcends both commercial and pseudo-artistic ways,» said Avranas. «Another crucial thing is that actors need to be creative rather than just executers of roles. The difficulty here was that a certain acting form needed to be followed, because everything in the film is kind of symbolic, not exactly as it seems.» Actress Evi Saoulidou, cast as the female of the pair, proved pivotal to the result by expressing firm belief in the woman’s role, which ultimately added further weight to that part of the film, said Avranas. Vassilis Andreou, who plays the male protagonist, may lack experience in acting but is endowed with cinematic quality, Avranas said. «He can play with very fine nuances and project them to the viewers. The character he plays goes through a transition, which the audience needs to search for to realize,» remarked Avranas. «As for Constantine Giannaris, who plays the role of a manager in three or four scenes, he is the most appropriate person for the role. His contribution gives me strength, especially because he believes that I have a distinctive writing style.» Commenting on the state of Greek film today, Avranas noted: «There’s talent in Greek filmmaking. But the problem is that we take too long to make films and they end up emerging as exhausted efforts through which some people are trying to say it all in one film,» commented Avranas. «I prefer to make errors and something that’s fresh. The important thing for me is to express what I want to express, and for it to be clear.»