The 18th Greek Film Festival arrives with sex, satire, star-crossed lovers and grim double-crosses
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In 2009, Greek cinema found itself with unlikely new ambassadors: the three unwillingly sequestered teens from Giorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth. It’s a film that seemed to appear out of nowhere like a UFO sighting or Athena bursting from Zeus’ head - but you can see its director appear in Attenberg, showing at the 18th Greek Film Festival. In fact, Attenberg director Athina Rachel Tsangari was a producer on Dogtooth, and has the same interest in making human behaviour alien to us.
Other highlights this year include the strident social drama 45m2, a retelling of Romeo and Juliet with immigrant teenagers called Nobody, and the political satire Need For Lies. (It’s curiously described as “Spin City meets The West Wing”, obviously hoping to cash in on all those passionate fans of the mediocre and mostly forgotten mid-90s sitcom.) There is also a tribute to Michael Cacoyannis - best known as the director of Zorba the Greek - who passed away earlier this year.
If you’re feeling like your life has too much colour, though, be sure check out the evocatively titled Knifer. Yannis Economides’ grim drama follows Nikos, a purposeless loser who goes to work for his bullying, paranoid uncle. What develops is nothing you haven’t seen played out in three dozen noirs, but its execution is immaculate. Stark photography creates blacks so black the cast are often swallowed whole; it makes the suburbs of Athens look like something out of Cormac McCarthy’s nightmares. Knifer burns slowly but hits hard and sharp.