Tonight the 2014 Athens International Film Festival, aka Opening Nights comes to an end. 11 Days with tons of films for all tastes! This year I managed to see 4 films: The Drop, Palo Alto, When Animals Dream and What If.
Before getting into the films, let me say that this year the festival seemed more alive than ever before, despite the 20 years that have passed. The selection of films was amazing, with many Greek productions, including Xenia by Panos Koutras, the crowd was amazing and the organization was almost impeccable, except from the problems in the Nick Cave screening (perhaps that was jinxed by all of us who did not find a ticket). The film ‘71 (Yann Demange’s tale of a British soldier accidentally abandoned by his unit at the riots in Belfast in 1971) won the ultimate prize, the Golden Athena award.
Now, regarding the films that I did get to see.
Palo Alto, is the first film by Francis Ford Coppola’s granddaughter, Gia Coppola, based on the short stories by James Franco. Starring Emma Roberts and the man himself (James Franco), Palo Alto is the tale of April, a shy virgin teenager (Emma Roberts), who while trying to connect with a sweet classmate (Jack Kilmer) has to deal also with her soccer coach (James Franco) hitting on her. Through April and her friends’ tales, we get to see the anxiety and issues that teenagers deal with, the mistakes that they make and how they deal with it. Coppola’s exquisite cinematography showed us that it must be in the genes (seriously, can this family ever get it wrong?) and reminded me a bit of good old Auntie Sofia’s debut film “The Virgin Suicides”. Overall a great debut film!
When Animals Dream, is a Danish film by Jonas Alexander Arnby, about a 16 year old girl living in an isolated Danish town, with her sick mother and her father, who will discover that something weird is happening to her body, making her transform little by little to something not human… I will not reveal too much about this film as the element of surprise plays a very important part. What I can say, is that the direction and photography were amazing, adding to the whole mystery of the story and that the newcomer Sonia Suhl, is breathtaking in her film debut.
The final film that I saw was my favorite! What If, is a Canadian-Irish co-production, directed by Michael Dowse and starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan (Elias Kazan’s granddaughter). The story is quite simple: boy meets girl, boy likes girl, girl likes boy, but girl has a boyfriend, boy decides to be friends with girl but of course falls for her. Despite that it is considered a romantic comedy, to my opinion it was an anti-romantic comedy that made fun in a way of many genre clichés. A fresh, well written comedy, with talented protagonists that share great chemistry! Daniel Radcliffe shows that his Harry Potter days are far behind him and the lovely Miss Kazan, who we had already noticed in the film Ruby Sparks that she had also written, proves that she has inherited her fair share of her grandfather’s talent.
Well, that was for this year’s festival! Let’s focus now, on the very busy cinema & TV Fall that has already started!!
Ever since I first set foot on a cinema theatre, I knew that something magical was happening there....