Michalis Klioumis

We all crave for approval and we are in no position to place judgment on anyone. A deeper need lies under our choices

Michalis Klioumis

People's Stories

Text: Tassos Retzios || Photographs: Michalis Klioumis ' archive
Michalis Klioumis
Michalis Klioumis

If one had to make a prediction concerning the future of Michalis Klioumis, a young director who left quite a mark in the 23rd Thessaloniki Documentary Festival with his film “Made in Vain“, one thing would be sure: it would be riddled with cinema. The frames, the narrative and the style of his film speak volumes of his passion for cinema, which springs out of every word he says: Klioumis goes way beyond citing points of reference and influence; he exalts the work of great directors.

“Kubrick is the reason I became a director. Watching The Clockwork Orange literarily changed my life”, he explains. “I adore cinema, I admire all great masters of cinema. Orson Welles and his frames still leave me breathless. Every director should memorize Citizen Kane by heart. Hitchcock and Eisenstein are the forefathers of cinema who defined me, each in his own way. He goes on to name Béla Tarr, Andrei Tarkovsky, even Harmony Korine as sources of inspiration! A young director who lives and breathes cinema!

His movie invites the viewers into the backstage of a world dedicated to the building of human body. The athletes of professional body building parade in all their magnitude on the screen, captured by the lens of a director who spent a lot of time with them, gained their trust and ended up becoming one of their most loyal fans.

“It was by chance that I got acquainted with world, which fascinated me from the very start. I soon discovered that this world remains in the shadows and I decided to place emphasis on the power of the image. These athletes are like any other people who resort to certain things …in vain, such as a hair transplant. These are people, whom we tend to deride, so I decided to turn to the genuine force of the image. As you know, you can’t judge a book from its cover. We share the same frustrations with these people, who are fervently in love with the sport they practice. Their love, I must point out, is completely unselfish, as it will never pay off in terms of financial reward.”

“My goal for the film is to urge every one of us to take a look into our own vice, where we give ourselves wholeheartedly, and what we do about it. I would be very happy to see my film work as a self-reflecting mirror, enabling the viewer to contemplate on his choices in life. We all crave for approval and we are in no position to place judgment on anyone. A deeper need lies under our choices,” he points out.

Michalis Klioumis loves human stories and that’s why he opts for an anthropocentric cinema. Made in Vain follows the lives of three body building athletes, in several stages of their lives. “I am deeply interested in the way people react to certain conditions. I build an entire universe around this notion. That’s the case in my new film as well, which revolves around a man who longs for everyone’s approval and praise. I try to reflect on the reasons for this behavior through my film. My intention is always the same, regardless if I’m shooting a documentary, a fiction film, a comedy or an adventure.

The talk with Michalis Klioumis, just like his film, wraps up in a bittersweet taste. “It is incredibly difficult to make a film in Greece and let me be clear on this: what I mean is that it is really hard to shoot a film the way it should be done, not to become rich or anything else! I hope that I’ll have my chances in the future. My wish is to make films that matter to me.