"Modern Chinese cinema is closer to Western standards"

"Modern Chinese cinema is closer to Western standards"

An interview with film director Amerissa Basta by Angeliki Spanou.

Film director Amerissa Basta with her film "Christos and Dimitra" won third place at the 1st EU-China Short Film Festival. She talks about her cinematic trajectory up to receiving the award, explaining how the child's view of things "can speak the universal language”.

-Why in your opinion did your film win the award? What is it that attracted film critics?

Our film “Christos and Dimitra” is a tender comedy that attempts to narrate an alternative version of Romeo and Juliet, starring two young children. I think that a child’s look, a look that “speaks a universal language”, through which the story was approached, has played a role. Also, the fact that we depict aspects of life in Greece, in particular in the Greek provinces. We think that some less known elements of our country are particularly interesting to viewers outside Greece.

-Tell us a bit about the story of this movie. About the original idea, the motivation, the realization …

Together with my husband and co-screenwriter Dimitris Nakos, we have been dreaming for years to make this film at my hometown, Kymi, in Evia. Since it was a fairly costly production, the project remained on the shelf until we managed to complete it with funding from the Greek Film Centre, as a co-production. Of course, the support of the local community in Kymi and the affection with which all participants embraced the project played a very significant role in the realization of the film.  After its first screening at Greek festivals, the film travelled to more than 15 international festivals in Europe, USA and Asia, reaching the 1st EU-China Short Film Festival, where it won the Bronze Award. The film continues its journey to International Festivals: next month, for example, it will be screened at the Bucharest International Festival.

-Your participation at the 1st EU-China Short Film Festival, how did it come about?

We were informed through our embassy about the possibility to participate and we proceeded with great enthusiasm. We very much love Chinese culture and it was a great honour for both of us to participate and to get an award.

-What do you know about Chinese cinema?

Previously, the Chinese films that were distributed in Western countries and reached our own cinemas and our TV receivers, were mainly epic martial productions, which the public loved as they looked exotic and had a distinct colour and character. Nowadays, the so-called “sixth generation” of Chinese filmmakers brings us a wider range of movies, whioch are sometimes closer to the western minimalist standards, such as Jia Zhangke's “Still Life”.

Amerissa Basta studied Media Communication and Cultural Management at Athens Panteion University. She works for Psichoghios Publishers and has directed 6 short films that have been screened and won distinctions at film festivals in Greece and abroad. Her last film “Umbrella”, a co-production with ERT-Microfilm is in post production. Her previous films include “Unit” (2010), “Stella and I” (2011), “Jesus stopped at Gyzi” (2013), “Eviva” (2014) and “Christos and Dimitra”(2015).