I have a spontaneous affinity for the short film form, which I view as a challenge and at the same time, like a “home”

Ioanna Kryona

Cinema seeks and defines its own truth

Text: Yorgos Papadimitriou || Photographs: Ioanna Kryona's Archive
Ioanna Kryona
Ioanna Kryona

Thessaloniki-born Ioanna Kryona studied Art History and went on to have a Master’s Degree on Film Studies at the Freie University of Berlin. During her time as a student, she collaborated with prestigious institutions, such as Thessaloniki International Film Festival, Thessaloniki Museum Cinema and Berlin’s Hellenic Cultural Center, while her short film debut, Postheimat (2015), celebrated its premiere at the Drama International Short Film Festival. Subsequently, Kryona served from 2016 to 2018 as head of programming and later on as artistic director of Hellas Filmbox Berlin, the festival of Greek cinema held in Berlin. 

Her latest film, Vathikofto, was granted support by the Greek Film Center and the “Microfilm” program of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation, and is scheduled to be screened at the 44th Drama International Short Film Festival. As to the plot, here’s a couple of tags and hints: Two Greek young girls and close friends who live in Berlin, a slow-burning quarrel, a book by Hegel, an overloaded suitcase and an explosive reconciliation. A movie that permeates the inherent clash and confrontation lying the heart of every intimate human contact, with an ideally paced inner tempo and top-class performances, which oozes an intriguing feeling of comic absurdity. 

“Immigrant identity is a topic that always finds a way to sneak into my work, even if not in the very core of the film, as in the case of Postheimat. Vathikofto is a portrait of the relationship between two women who – among other things – are immigrants as well. My intention was to steer clear from a narrative that would focus on immigration as a peculiarity or a feature to behold. On the contrary, I opted to approach immigration as an intrinsic condition, as an extra layer in the outlining of the two main female characters. The unusual tension in their relationship, triggered by their mutual fear of losing one another, can also be interpreted as a result of them inhabiting a non-familiar place.”

In Postheimat, a theatrical group of Greek immigrants is staging Brecht’s play Fear and Misery in the 3rd Reich, in an allegory that balances on the borderline between reality and representation, shedding light onto Germany’s ongoing collective trauma. In Vathikofto, Brecht passes on the torch to Hegel and the Science of Logic, one of the most acclaimed works of the renowned German philosopher. Ioanna enlightens us as to this reference: “In Vathikofto, Hegel serves as the symbol of German rationalism, as opposed to the irrationality of a fight. Through the use of comedy’s narrative tools, the authority of a highly demanding and hard-to-read philosopher hits the wall of a palpable and vibrant disagreement, regardless of how absurd or undue as it may seem. Cinema as an art, and unlike science, does not seek and define truth through logic. Comedy is par excellence the genre that aims at this deconstruction. To me, there lies the charm of genre films, in the subversion of logic and causality that – almost as if by magic – generates laughter, discomfiture or even terror.”

In 2019, Kryona was selected to take part in the annual program NEXT WAVE addressed to cinema professionals and hosted by the German Film & Television Academy, while her upcoming plans include her full-length debut film. Answering a question on the challenges that come part and parcel with the short film form and the difficult – for every young director out there – transition to full-length films, here’s what she has to say: “I have a spontaneous affinity for the short film form, which I view as a challenge, as it demands closure and completion within a very limited time frame. At the same time, short film has been like a “home” to me as a director, as all my endeavors so far fall within this category. My debut full-length project is titled Basalt and I am co-writing the screenplay along with director Konstantinos Kalogridis. Working in tandem has a different structure and dissimilar features compared to solitary writing, as ideas are commuted, evaluated, developed or turned down more promptly. We have opted for the somehow demanding genre of horror; the script has been meticulously worked on – having also undergone the MFI Script Workshop – and we are looking forward to finding the means for taking the next step. At the same time, we don’t neglect working on our short stories.”

Ioanna Kryona lives and works in Berlin, but her latest film marked her first collaboration with Greek professionals of the movie industry. What are her thoughts on these two different models of work and artistic creation, the German and the Greek? “In Vathikofto, I worked alongside a team of Greek professionals, completely unknown to me at the time, whom I got to know through this process. I feel lucky for their trust and devotion on the project. Moreover, this experience paved the way for future collaborations with the Greek cinema industry, a prospect which – strangely enough – I had not considered before Vathikofto. Judging from my limited experience, I would say that German cinema professionals have a work-oriented approach on the notion of collaboration, whereas in the case of their Greek counterparts, there’s a feeling of co-creation.”