WEIRD WAVES: THE FILMS OF YORGOS LANTHIMOS
“Is it just coincidence that the world's most messed-up country is making the world's most messed-up cinema?”
This quote from UK’s The Guardian would not ordinarily be a compliment but, in having “the world’s most messed-up cinema”, Greece should proudly stake its claim. Some have called it the ‘Greek Weird Wave’ in categorising this recent spate of bizarre and statement-making films from Greece and – in doing so – they have informally crowned filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos as its figurehead.
Born in 1973 in Athens, and a student of the celebrated Stavrakos Film School, Yorgos Lanthimos directed a huge body of TV commercials, short films, music videos and experimental theatre before joining the creative team behind the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics. It was at this time that he met fellow ‘Weird Waver’ Athina Rachel Tsangari, commencing a surreal cinematic relationship that would bear significant fruit.
The Delphi Bank 23rd Greek Film Festival in Melbourne proudly spotlights this cult filmmaker, screening his entire body of work to date in a series of double-bills at The Astor Theatre. The program includes the Australian premiere screening of Lanthimos’ first feature Kinetta (2005), as well as past favourites Dogtooth (GFF ‘09), Alps (GFF ’12), and his latest festival hit The Lobster (2015).
Far from being a passing fad, the Greek Weird Wave in its many weird and wonderful guises proves that great creativity can come through austerity. And, as the increasing inventiveness of films from Lanthimos and his cohorts suggests, the best is still to come.
“There are no real producers in Greece and no public money any more. Most of the time we don't really know how to do it, it's a nightmare. But at least it's done out of love." Yorgos Lanthimos