Stoker is endowed with this tender aura associated with the acts of letting go, confessing and finding reconciliation with the unhealed traumas and the unseen sides of the past.
Stelios Bouziotis, who studied Music Technology and Acoustic in the University of Crete, has a multifaceted and pluralistic stint as an artist, with four short films, video clips, videodances, theater performances, TV shows, a famous Doctors Without Borders spot, under his directorial belt. In addition, he teamed up with Maria Papadimitriou and Menelaos Karamaghiolis within the context of the former’s work AGRIMIKÁ, showcased in the Greek Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Moreover, one of the most memorable moments in his career came in March 2016, when he took part in the Chinese artist-activist Ai Weiwei’s project Human Flow, in Idomeni. Last but not least, since 2010 he has been a part of Menelaos Karamaghiolis’ documentary series Meetings with Remarkable People screened at ERT.
Stelios Bouziotis is currently gearing up for the premiere of his feature debut Stoker at the 25th Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival: a personal tailspin in the most elusive paths of memory is gradually transformed into a universal story that touches upon a deeper truth, beyond the realism of recording and documentation. Is documentary the ideal form of art for one to balance on the threshold between reality and representation, as well as to convey what can be described as human condition? “Every form of art is a medium. A vessel through which people get in contact with one another, while the final outcome has more to do with the drive behind the artist’s aspirations. All triggering causes and all possible outturns can fit in this ample spectrum. And everything is legit, whether it aims to express something simple and human or profound existential anxieties. It has more to do with what than how,” he mentions initially.
“Documentary is the genre where I can express myself better compared to fiction, as it lacks stylization and staging. I feel it’s closer to the truth, while being fully aware that it will never be able to grasp or capture it. From the moment I turn on the camera and select the frame, I recognize and accept that any bond to realism and truth is abruptly interrupted. Everything is suddenly becoming subjective. Personal. The way I see it, documentaries try to record moments that cannot be repeated or duplicated. Moments that cannot return once they pass us by. It is as if you’re striving to tune in with Time and rob it of a fleeting moment. On the other hand, fiction provides you with the chance to take control of Time. To intervene and create your own world. To see what you had in mind appearing right before your eyes. That alone is something magical and unique, however with numerous difficulties in store.”
His work in cinema, right on from his first short films, reflects a manifold perception, point of view and aesthetic, which seems to bind together a wide gamut of influences. Did he benefit from his journey in various artistic destinations and numerous posts of the filmmaking process? “There’s nothing that matters more than to find a common language. To be able to get your idea through to the sound designer, the cinematographer, the editor, the scenographer, the producer etc. I feel that my previous experience in various fields (fiction, advertising, video clips) and posts (editor, cameraman, cinematographer, sound designer, assistant director, musician) that goes on until today is constantly shaping me as an artist, offering me the chance to master these languages at a higher level. Therefore, all these different artistic stimuli turn into inspiration, knowledge, experience.”
International awards and honorary distinctions make solid proof of an anyway crystal-clear ascertainment: Greek documentary is on its way to the top. What’s his view on this remarkable rise and how does he experience the professional adventure of filmmaking in Greece? “Over the last years, with the use of the Internet, a colossal door opened up and revealed a bigger picture where we all discovered (including myself) pieces of ourselves that could never be found in our gated everyday life. We stopped feeling lonely and discovered the power to express ourselves a little more freely. This breakthrough is depicted in the high quality of the films we see in recent years by many Greek artists, even though we are a far cry from talking about a local industry. That’s our weakest point in my view and we need a little time to forge an artists-audience-producers bond that will enable young and independent artists that try to leave something worthwhile behind. There are many noteworthy artists out there that fail to devote themselves to their work, getting caught up in a sense of futility, fatigue, frustration and ultimately giving up. I wonder how many artists of the caliber of a Hadjidakis or an Angelopoulos ended their journey halfway because they did not make ends meet. How many living cells of culture are let to wear down and fade away due to this condition?”.
Stoker is endowed with this tender aura associated with the acts of letting go, confessing and finding reconciliation with the unhealed traumas and the unseen sides of the past. How was the first spark and need for this documentary ignited? “Within this turmoil of chaos and obstacles, Stoker was not far from going under as well. Finally, it stayed afloat and made it back to the shore. Luck, of course, played a huge part. Besides the effort, the money, the talent and the skills, timing is a key factor. Let’s consider this series of fortunate events; My father shot these films, he concealed both the films and the existence of my sister from me, I accidentally got engaged into filmmaking, I had to evolve, learn and get better, I happened to dig up these films and video tapes at the right moment, I spent countless hours in the editing room, I had to fully grasp my material and come up with ideas that went on to unravel, I then came to a decision on the film’s form, before finding support from collaborators, friends and family in order to make it happen. Nothing is made by chance. We all coexist and shape one another. We are not cut off from one another, we are not individual entities. Even though sometimes it may appear that way.”