My movies are human-centered and I hope they carry within them a piece of my love for social realism and neorealism

Artemis Anastasiadou

Cinema of a tough coming-of-age

Text:Tassos Retzios || Photographs: Artemis Anastasiadou's Archive
Artemis Anastasiadou
Artemis Anastasiadou

Two siblings, a spell, wounded landscapes and an inevitable departure. Is it a tale of immigration or a chronicle of a disappearance? You’ve just read the tagline of Artemis Anastasiadou’s latest short film, Το Vancouver, which celebrated its premiere at the 44th Drama International Short Film Festival. Upon seeing the film though, and after taking into account that Anastasiadou’s previous film, I Am Mackenzie, revolved around a tomboy in rural Texas, who lost her virginity in her father’s pickup track, one can’t help but to trace a common thematic denominator. “In my films, I attempt to approach women’s stories, their traumas and how they are shaped by the family and social entourage. My movies are human-centered and I hope they carry within them a piece of my love for social realism and neorealism.”

Artemis Anastasiadou studied Theater at AUTh’s Faculty of Fine Arts and Film Direction at the University of Texas University at Austin. Her movie, Calling, was awarded by Austin Film Society, and handpicked as on of Texas’ best short films. I am Mackenzie won the Best Texas Short award at the SXSW 2019 Festival, while Anastasiadou was bestowed with the Tonia Marketaki Award at the Drama Film Festival. The movie went on to be screened at more than 100 international festivals, among which stand out BFI and POFF Black Nights. Artemis has worked as a cinema professor at the University of Texas and the University of Missouri. Since 2020, she is teaching cinema at the American College of Deree.

“My relation with cinema started out on the first day I set foot inside a movie theater, during second grade. Ever since, my love is getting stronger and stronger. The retrospectives at Olympion (I grew up and studied in Thessaloniki), VHS tapes from AZA Video Cinema Club, the Thessaloniki International Film Festival and the Opening Nights Festival (one-week trips to Athens every September), brought me in contact with the masters, as well as with every new kid on the block of the international scene. I worked as an editor for more than a decade in movies, TV series and lots of documentaries, up to the moment I directed my debut short film in 2013, an independent, almost impromptu one might say, production, with the help of a great deal of close friends. This movie lit the spark. I went to the USA on scholarship, where I had my Master’s Degree in Film Direction and shot most of my short films. To Vancouver is my first movie since I moved back to Greece.”

What drove her to shoot the film in Greece and what led her to this plotline? “The script’s first draft was completed in October 2018, when I had just moved from Texas, where I had established a sort of professional network, to Missouri. The feeling of being an outsider, as well as my many years away from Greece piling up inside of me, planted the seeds of the “immigrant”: the sense of “invisibility” and limbo between two countries. It was at this point that I recalled the kids I had met as a child, who grew up with their grandparents as their parents had gone to Germany in the 60s and the 70s. That’s how I felt the need to carve out a story that delves into the soul of a little girl who is forced to wave goodbye to her favorite person in the world, her brother. So, I came up with the idea of a person “gone missing” from his natural habitat once becoming an immigrant, which was consolidated when I discovered the myth of the Lamia of Brinia, a local legend in the region of the ex lignite mine in Aliveri, where the movie takes place. What are the feelings she wishes to convey to the audience through her film? “The movie’s finale signals the beginning of a new chapter in the heroine’s life, a tough coming-of-age without the person she cherishes the most. It would make me happy to see the audience empathizing with this deserted little girl.”

What is her opinion on the current status of Greek cinema? Is it still a… suicide mission? “Working as an artist in Greece is a challenge, more than often ranking you at the lowest levels of the class scale. The real question though is what kind of art do we envisage as a state? Do we wish for the art to reach out to the everyday people? Do we wish for the everyday people to have a chance to produce art? The Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education have the means to help out, as long as there’s a vision and love for art and free expression. As to Greek cinema, it is reborn time and time again, thanks to the perseverance and the idealism of Greek filmmakers. Societies should be thankful for this rare breed of people who kneel before nothing driven by their passion for creation and beauty.”

Amidst this newly formed post-pandemic scenery, the “home consumption” of cinema is bound to have a toll on the creation process? “The younger generation will no doubt be affected, as it has grown accustomed to watching films online, becoming familiar with the narrative forms, the rhythm and the aesthetic of the Internet. Nevertheless, there are multiple ways to tell stories endowed with images and dialogue; new styles will no doubt come forth, as in the case of the MTV frenzy in the 90s, without triggering though an irreversible mutation of the cinema art”.