Apples by Christos Nikou, following an impressive journey in the international festival circuit, are landing of the International Competition section of the 61st Thessaloniki International Film Festival, triggering the first sold-out of this year’s online festival edition in the blink of an eye! The finishing touch in this frenzied ride was of course no other than the film’s selection as Greece’s candidature for the upcoming Oscars, in the Best International Feature Award. Let’s take a few steps back, though…
Nikou’s first contact with cinema was – from day one – an in situ experience. With no official cinema studies under his belt, he dived deep right from the start, as he began working in Greek films as an assistant director. His came with Dogtooth by Yorgos Lanthimos, followed by seven more films, including Before Midnight by Richard Linklater. Somewhere in between, he wrote and directed his only short film, titled KM.
That’s pretty much the story that preceded Apples, Nikou’s debut feature, which was screened at Telluride Festival, and was selected as the opening film of the Orizzonti section of the recent Venice Film Festival. To make things even more thrilling, the Jury’s President, stunning Cate Blanchett, developed an immediate crush on the film, and decided to take on the role of executive producer, promoting the film in the USA (through her company, Dirty Films). At the same time, Apples offered Christos Nikou the chance to sign up with CAA, one of the most prestigious US agencies, and to fall under the wing of Jerome Duboz, manager of acclaimed directors such as Bong Joon-ho (Parasite)
Apples is a film on the maze-like and unexplored mechanisms of memory. A film that the of an uncharted are, which – when one come to think of it – defines the way we perceive and place ourselves with regard to everything: the world, the past, the future, life, our feelings towards others, as well as towards ourselves. “How selective is our memory? Do we recall what we have experienced or do we select which memories to keep? Can we let go of our wounds? Maybe, after all, we do not wish to unburden ourselves, because along with our scars we fear of losing or own existence?”, explains the Greek director.
Apples unfold in a peculiar retro-futuristic world, which oozes a blend of melancholy, stoicism and timid hope. What were the sources of inspirations and the points of reference for the director? “Ι always enjoyed films that introduced the audience to dark and dystopian worlds, which serve as a parable for the world we’re living in. My influences were the novels Blindness by José Saramago and 1984 by George Orwell, but my main source of inspiration came from a personal experience. I began writing the script 8 years ago, following the loss my father, as I was unable to cope with the grief. I simply couldn’t stand it. I was striving to understand how others forger so easily and I don’t. Is there a correlation between memory and pain? If we erase something so painful, do we erase a part of ourselves as well? Therefore, in a way, are we made up of the sum of everything we can’t let go off? These were my thoughts when I started writing the script.”