We enjoy pulling things out of oblivion and into the light, placing them in their right dimensions

Akis Kersanidis - Chryssa Tzelepi

Back to the cinema

Text: Tassos Retzios || Photographs: Kersanidis & Tzelepi's archive
Greek Documentary
Akis Kersanidis - Chryssa Tzelepi

Akis Kersanidis and Chryssa Tzelepi have been shooting and producing documentaries for over a decade now as a directorial duo, distancing themselves from the easy solutions of the TV esthetic, opting for a cinema of detail, riddled with social and political references. A cinema that pursues its topics, whether it’s music, memory or visual art. The common denominator is the restless nature of creation.

Their latest documentary Back to Earth, focusing on the work of the ceramist Ektoras Mavridis, celebrated its premiere in the 23rd Thessaloniki Documentary Festival. Mavridis has devoted himself to a large-scale public work in progress, removing and processing clods of dirt from a ploughed field, before putting them back into place. The two directors displayed the same devotion, as they recorded the artist’s life for many years delving into his ideas with an acute glance.

No surprise there of course, as they have done it time and time again over the years. In Situ (2017) is a wonderful cinema journey in the field of improvisational music. The Chronicle of a Disaster (2013) recounts the Hortiatis Holocaust, while Enraged December (2010) takes us back on the turbulent days following the assassination of Alexandros Grigoropoulos.

The common feature in our films is the sense of exploring, as every topic we touch upon opens up a different world inviting us to explore it through our camera lens. The sociopolitical element, in its broader sense, serves as a guideline and filter in the selection of topics, an important trait that urges us to get engaged with something, to examine it under a cinema-oriented prism.

In terms of form and style, they both enjoy to “test and try new things that might arouse our interest from a specific point of view, such as ways to break down narrative conventions in favor of the overall composition, abrupt changed in rhythm etc”.

They admit drawing constant inspiration from cinema, painting, poetry, architecture, photography etc. “As we have both been involved in experimental cinema, we tend to resort this source of knowledge and ideas. Experimental film is cinema’s holy tree, harvested by the ones who curse it the most. In any case, we are among the ones to love and water it. No wonder they had been the hosts of Experimental Cinema Festival “Strange Screen” for an entire decade, until 2010.

The film Back to Earth came out of their “love and interest for the work of Ektoras Mavridis, as well as for his zeal in performing this work. We were fascinated by the idea that everything, following the stage of the initial spark, is materialized through the human body. Subsequently, and during the pandemic and our confinement in the editing room, we started to sense the mystical hue of Ektoras’ work, comprehending things that went by unnoticed, such as the passing of time, the double meaning of “work” (the process and the outcome of the process), the labor, the rhythm of the body, the touch of the material, as Ektoras puts it.

Akis Kersanidis and Chryssa Tzelepi, besides producing films, they offer a series of cinema courses through the anemiCinema platform. “We are drawn by what lies before our eyes but eludes our sight. What remains unseen, invisible or hidden, either by mistake or by force of habit. We enjoy pulling things out of oblivion and into the light, placing them in their right dimensions”.