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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 13 August 2016
18 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 13 AUGUST 2016 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM NELLY SKOUFATOGLOU C HEVALIER | Greece (2015) Unclassified 18+ Director: Athina Rachel Tsangari Cast: Yorgos Kendros, Panos Koronis, Vangelis Mourikis, Makis Papadimitriou, Yorgos Pirpassopoulos, Sakis Rouvas, Yiannis Drakopoulos, Nikos Orfanos, Kostas Philippoglou. Awarded new wave director Athina Rachel Tsangari (The Capsule, Attenberg) has returned to the Melbourne International Film Festival with her most accomplished work to date, "a bizarre and formally adventurous study of male antagonism set aboard a luxury yacht". Marooned in an Aegean Sea harbour while their ship undergoes repairs, six men engage in a rigorous game of one-upmanship designed to determine who's the "best in general", with the prize being the coveted ‘Chevalier’ ring and macho bragging rights. The absurdity of their behaviour is keenly rendered by Tsangari and co-writer Efthymis Filippou (The Lobster), who bring an often hilariously withering perspective to this very masculine, rather silly duel of egos – one which may very well change the way you hear Minnie Riperton's Loving You forever. Featuring acclaimed Greek actors Makis Papadimitriou (Suntan), Nikos Orfanos and Yorgos Pyrpasopoulos, alongside awarded Greek Australian film actor Vangelis Mourikis (Norway, Stratos, The King) and pop star Sakis Rouvas, Chavalier won the award for Best Film at the London Film Festival. Tsangari's decision to work with male characters only, contrasting her previous films which were dominated by women, takes the audience by surprise, offering MIFF: Greek cinema at its best From the gut-wrenching Joe Cinque's Consolation by Sotiris Dounoukos to Athina Rachel Tsangari's unconventional gender comedy, Chevalier effortless, yet side-splitting laughter. The filmmaker sucessfully manipulates male ego through a manhood-measuring saga over a Chevalier ring, into a tad grotesque deadpan comedy. The scenes are an ode to absurdity which brings out the femininity in the six almost sociopathic - narcissistic for sure - male figures going up and down that luxury yacht. Through an outlandish simplicity outside Athens, Tsangari's widescreen Director: Sotiris Dounoukos Cast: Maggie Naouri, Jerome Meyer, Sacha Joseph, Josh McConville, Gia Carides J Sotiris Dounoukos' first feature film is based on a very high-profile true story, an adaptation of a book published in 2004 by one of Australia's most acclaimed authors, Helen Garner. OE CINQUE'S CONSOLATION | Australia (2016) Unclassified 18+ Joe Cinque's Consolation delivers a different point of view of Garner's A True Story of Death, Grief and the Law, touched with compassion by the talented Dounoukos (A Single Body, Toronto Film Festival's Best International Short Film award). Anu Singh was an Australian National University law student in the late 1990s when she started complaining about her health and talking about suicide to her friends. Her worried boyfriend, Joe Cinque, tried to help but his efforts only seemed to make her mental state worse. Anu's plans grew darker and more sinister, and she started hinting she would take someone with her. Her best friend, Madhavi Rao, seemed powerless – or unwilling – to stop her. Finally, Anu staged a farewell dinner party, preparing her guests, Rohypnol and two lethal doses of heroin. After all the warnings, who would step forward to stop her? Starring Maggie Naouri and Jerome Meyer, with Gia Carides and Tony Nikolakopoulos as Joe's parents, and bolstered by pitch-perfect period details and a soundtrack to match, the highly-anticipated Joe Cinque's Consolation is sure to be one of this year's most talked about films. Through this emotionally complex and chilling true crime drama, Dounoukos draws on his own shot leaves it to the viewer to make the connection between what bonds the seemingly different and disconnected passengers of the boat. Men from their early 40s to their late 60s vie over who is the "best in everything", measuring all-things-measurable, whether it is their erection or their 'posture' while they sleep. Within hours, that silly game becomes the driver of life, diminishing every other priority memories of the law school, the people and the city from this time, as well as Garner's meticulous research, to build a compelling psychological study of community, culpability and collective responsibility. "I'm from Canberra and I went to law school with some of the people in the film, so I knew about the crime on the day it happened," the director tells Neos Kosmos. "It was what everyone was talking about at school and I got to know Helen's point of view early on. I was really affected by her take on the events and the details of how it happened. "The beauty of the book, the writing and the way it allowed you to approach that tragedy and the difficult questions that arise stuck with me. My response to that was to think how this adaptation would bring out those questions. It's a great responsibility when people trust you with their work." Dounoukos' approach aims to trigger the viewers’ need to understand how something like that could happen and raise awareness on the sometimes dissociative nature of the Australian society. "Being a filmmaker, the approach you take is not an option it's a decision. Helen mainly followed the court case in her book. I found there was a parallel or relationship at stake. Through those simple individual challenges, the men bring out their deeply-rooted insecurities in ways usually attributed to women, something which, like a virus, speads to the lower decks, affecting the yacht's crew as well. The absence of seriousness and Philippou's cleverly written puns become a tool in Tsangari's hands to lead the audience into many different interpretations of the between how the court operated and what happened," he explains. "The process at the court involved many testimonies, sometimes changing from hearing to hearing, fragments of information and inexplicable behaviours that need to somehow come together in order for us to comprehend how such a crime took place, how people let it happen. I tried to be very sensitive with those fragments and let people's actions and decisions speak for themselves," he emphasises. The most challenging part for Dounoukos was getting into the characters' mindset avoiding being swept into the court saga. The film manages to bring together all those collective groups and individuals operating as one: colleagues, friends, random people, family, without creating impressions but leaving it to the viewer to wonder how something like this took place. "Even though some powers seem to be competitive, everything eventually works together into what we anticipate will happen. Unfortunately. Delving into that," he says, "I tried to create a mosaic that sort of has a place for us, the outsiders, the spectators, and make us question our ability to empathise. "My goal was to make people think and reflect while looking at male figure, of people in general. The unconventional female director softly portrays antagonising, vain, males, prepared to go to extremes for 'the win'. Sakis Rouvas nearly cried in front of the mirror screaming "my thighs aren't fat", while Vangelis Mourikis lost himself over an erection. Considering Chevalier's quest for "the best in everything", winning the Best Film prize at the London Film Festival came as no surprise. these characters. To raise questions the likes of 'why are these people interesting to me? What does this mean? How come they just stand by watching? What would I have done? Would I have stopped it?'." It's a film that really questions us as an audience though the secondary characters who turn from witnesses of an appalling crime to mere spectators. When asked about the way he chose to portray Anu, he says that his intention was not to make people judge her. "She has been judged, by the court. It's not to me to question whether the court's ruling was enough or if the psychiatrists' diagnosis was correct in hindsight. However, there was a crime that was committed which took a lot of organisation and a certain level of rational thought- not just from Anu but from the people who helped her set this up. In terms of justice, we all have our own compass," he adds. "In terms of how to portray her on the screen, unless you made the character believe that she was suffering from what she was saying, it's easy to lose interest in the character and the plot. I have spoken to Anu, Joe's family and the people involved and I chose this perspective in hope of igniting an internal conversation on what makes us human."
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