Refugee women focus of Greek film at Locarno

As the Locarno Film Festival draws to an end this weekend, one cannot help but notice the Greek presence. During the festival, hundreds of films are shown to the public on a gigantic, open-air screen. At last year’s festival, 10-year-old Costas Karayiannis was awarded for playing the leading role in Penny Panayiotopoulou’s film «Hard Goodbyes: My Father.» The Greek film participating in this year’s Locarno Festival is «The Way to the West» by Kyriakos Katzourakis, a film that will soon be playing in Greek movie theaters. The film is currently being screened in the «Cineasti del presente» program which includes another Greek name, that of Ioanna Hadzithoma who is involved in the French production «Ramad.» One section of this year’s Locarno Festival is dedicated to films that explore the musicians and evolution of jazz. A smaller section addresses Cuban cinema. The use of new technologies and media in film and the ways that contemporary movies sensitize the public toward human rights are two other subjects examined by programs at the festival. Kyriakos Katzourakis, who started his career as a painter, turned to film driven by his interest in documenting the lives of refugees in Athens. In a recent interview with Kathimerini, Katzourakis said that he feels the same sense of enthusiasm for documentary filmmaking as he does for painting, where his approach is more subjective. For Katzourakis, painting and producing «The Way to the West» spring from the same need. The idea was to address the everyday situations he comes across in Athens, though not with the dry approach of most documentaries. The film focuses on the stories of women refugees. The film’s main character is Irina, a woman from the former Soviet Union, played by Katia Gerou, Katzourakis’s partner. The film is a montaged version of 116 hours of filming. Since Katzourakis has little training in moviemaking, Alexis Grivas lent him his assistance.