Dimitris Zahos

Back with Orange Juice

Δημήτρης Ζάχος-Dimitris Zahos

Two years after snatching several awards with his movie Vouta, Dimitris Zahos is back in action, with his latest short film Orange Juice, screened at the 45th Drama International Short Film Festival. An additional incentive for watching the film, besides its sensitive and robust directorial touch, can be found in a script bearing the prestigious name of Dimitris Koutsiabasakos. Dimitris Zahos lays out the details of this intriguing partnership. “I deeply value Dimitris Koutsiabasakos’ work for bringing forth, with consistency and a high level of aesthetics, an emotional connection for many of this land’s precious qualities and values, which continue to exist at an arm’s length, but seem to be long-forgotten. In addition to his directorial work, I had the chance to get to know him in his other capacity, as a teacher at AUTh’s Film School. Dimitris and Periklis Hoursoglou were the two teachers that influenced me the most, helping me to discover my own voice as a filmmaker. A few years later, our paths crossed once again, when I found myself at the other side of the classroom, delivering courses to young colleagues. At that time, he entrusted me with a short film script, provisionally titled “The Tribulation” and that indeed it was! A multileveled script with elaborate characters and a compact duration, an overall luscious collaboration right from the start and until the last minute. And for that, I am truly grateful to Dimitris Koutsiabasakos.” 

Two years after Vouta, to what extent and in which ways did the warm reception and the awards help him to kick off his next project? In the meantime, has it gone any easier for young Greek filmmakers to professionally identify themselves as film directors? “Vouta premiered in a time of uncertainty, amidst the 2020 pandemic. We took part in many national and international festivals, but from a distance, without a physical presence neither for us nor for the audience. This was bound to leave a bad taste in the mouth, but we took comfort in knowing that Vouta made its way to a rather large audience thanks to the online platforms. Awards are a confidence boost alright, but in no way do they offer any certainty as to whether we’ll be able to go through with the next project. In a way, you have to be a mental case to keep on trying to make movies. It’s common knowledge that there’s no money to be made. Even though the scenery has drastically changed with the presence of the EKOME and the abundance of foreign productions, everyone got a little piece of the pie except for the directors! It is a laughing stock, but it’s no joke that we faced grave problems in staffing the production team not only as a result of the outrageous measures against the pandemic, but mainly due to the fact that TV and international productions have absorbed the greatest part of the movie industry professionals. I like to think that us directors will come out stronger, more creative and more sincere out of this awkward mess we’re in. Actually, we can’t afford to have it any other way.”

Going back to Zahos’ previous works, both in Vouta and the Penguins, the story unfolds in the dim and unseen aspects of the urban landscape, while in Australia the plot takes place in a non-locus, in the limbo space of an airport’s departure area. This time, through the unexpected meetings and experiences of a young flyer distributor, the city of Athnes (with all the paranoid contradictions found in the modern metropolis) becomes the canvas of the film. “Indeed, the city of Athens is the protagonist’s canvas and his everyday routes, distributing flyers and heading to the students’ residencies or the university, define the boundaries of his world. One mustn’t forget though, that the movie is set during the pandemic, therefore we had to place emphasis on the private spaces of the two main characters: an elderly actress and a young student from a provincial town of Greece, played by the spectacular Vangelio Andreadaki and debutant Thanassis Kromlidis, respectively. In the mind of the actress, everything is trapped in a nostalgic stillness, while for the youngster everything is new and happening “for the first time”. In the backdrop of their acquaintance, we can witness how even these two entirely different worlds, trapped in the irrational living conditions of the city, are able to share a deeply humane bond, the need for sharing and caring.”