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Maria Douza’s first feature length film is an elegantly crafted story that explores the themes of estrangement and separation and homecoming with powerfully understated direction. Mirto Alikaki play Eleni, a successful Greek doctor who finds out her husband is being re-located to Shanghai for a fiscal restructuring. This triggers a sudden desire for her to return to Greece and visit her father, who is also the town mayor.
Her father Kyriakos (a resonating performance by Ilias Logothetis) is not alone when Eleni arrives as a Serbian woman Nina (Mirjana Karanovic) has filled the house with life again for the first time in decades. But nothing is as it seems and the film unravels secrets and mysteries that could only be revealed when everyone has returned to the family table.
Alikaki and Karanovic move through the house peering and stalking one another for clues and hints of who the other woman is, and Douza makes excellent use of camera moves to create dramatic tension that takes the air out of each room.
A special mention should be made of the excellent work of both Cinematographer Epameinondas Zafeiris and Set Designer Dimitris Margaritis. From the first drive through the mountains and deep woods towards the ancestral home all the way inside the home to the century-old doors and detailed set dressing, one feels immersed in the authenticity of the story.
A PLACE CALLED HOME is a sure-handed debut from a filmmaker that has chosen to invest her film with the timeless (and often Greek) theme of returning home. Writer/Director Douza suggests that as human beings from different places we endure and survive with recognition that we are more similar than we are foreign to one another.
DIRECTOR: GREEK FILM RETROSPECTIVE/TORONTO
THE TORONTO GREEK FILM RETROSPECTIVE (TGFR) is a series of free screenings to celebrate Greek cinema via an electric mix of films from the past 50 years. Hellenic culture, history and passion on screen.
The TGFR's aim is to showcase Greek films produced by Greek filmmakers. The foremost goal is to promote Hellenic culture, history and passion on screen. The films that will be shown include ones from the golden years of Greek cinema, from the 1950's to 1960's, as well as films from the early 80's and 90's. This retrospective will be open to the general public and admission is free.