VIS SPOTLIGHT FEATURE: JACQUELINE LENTZOU

VIS SPOTLIGHT FEATURE: JACQUELINE LENTZOU

June 12, 2017

Greek filmmaker Jacqueline Lentzou was one of the VIS Spotlight artists at the festival’s 14th edition. At the moment, Lentzou’s last two films, Fox and Hiwa are simultaneously going around the festival circuit, the former after its premiere at Locarno last year, and the latter at this year’s Berlinale. At a VIS special event, the programmers screened them along with her first film Thirteen Blue, and the music video La Jalousie – The Callas.

Thirteen Blue

Born in Athens in 1989, Lentzou graduated from the London Film School in 2013 with Thirteen Blue, a charismatic coming-of-age drama focused on a melancholic teenager who is treated like a child by her family. Lentzou directs this girl’s self-discovery in a touching way. The film had a successful festival run, including the Golden Egg Award at Reykjavik, first awards at Athens Film & Video FF, CINEMED IFF and Sapporo SFF.

Fox is another coming-of-age story, somewhat wilder than Thirteen Blue. The film becomes increasingly sincere by each minute as it advances into this Greek daydream. It is sensibly talking about the compromises we have to make in in life, and how people deal with loss.

In 2015, together with the Athens Film Lab, Lentzou produced Hiwa (Tagalog for “wound”). The film goes deep into the dream of the Filipino man called Jay, played by Melchor Lopez, who wanders around the city of Athens as he is looking for his daughters. He is lost in a distorted reality in which he cannot control what comes next. More than ever, in this film, Lentzou brings to light a beautiful metaphysical poem.

Last but not least, the program showed Lentzou’s music video for the song “La Jalousie”, made in cooperation with the the art crew The Callas, which is the tip of an artistic factory which produces music, films, artworks, magazines, events, and art shows, initiated by the brothers Lakis and Aris Ionas. The video is inspired by the homonymous Alain Robbe-Grillet novel.

Fox

After taking part in Sarajevo Talent Campus and Berlinale Talents (she developed Fox there), Lentzou is now developing her debut feature film at the Torino ScriptLab. The working title Selene66 refers to name of the Lunar Greek deity, the moon itself but it also can be translated as “the light that can be seen”. The moon is one of the trademarks in Lentzou’s work, reminding us about the time we spend dreaming.

Lentzou is as a very down-to-earth and humble person who has a huge passion for what she does. She is not intimidated by her young age, for her, “it is essential to keep experimenting with new approaches in storytelling.” She is always looking for the right details that can visually contrast the emotions she is exploring in her films. She often uses long hand-held shots in search for new ways to portray psychological family dramas, synchronised with dream-like experiences, which are influenced by Lentzou’s taste in art.

Lentzou is brave enough to build her own methods and style to immerse her audiences into an intimate journey. Lentzou’s sincerity through the lens kindly searches for the right moments to find the poetry in ordinary things in life, and to record what seems to be forgotten, and is waiting to be documented in its very rawness.

NISIMAZINE: What do you think about the possibilities of the short film in telling a complex story?

LENTZOU: I really like the short film format because it’s very intimate. Short film-makers are considered amateurs by the general public, so this releases them from a pressure and gives them the necessary freedom to experiment without having to worry about selling tickets. So, you’re somehow more pure in how you go about in creating your film, it gives you many possibilities to play with the format. Still, it’s very challenging to set a complex narrative in such a short amount of time, but some directors manage to do it very well, and it gives them the chance to cover the festival circuit and makes it a bit easier for them to produce new films. In a way, it expands the possibilities for the film-makers themselves, and their audiences. I’ll keep doing short films as I consider it to be a different type of film. It’s not a step before a feature film but an art form in itself.

Can you tell us how is for you to be a woman filmmaker?

I think that now worldwide there’s a global shift in helping women filmmakers. I don’t like that, since in my mind, ideally, I would like to belong to a market which praises equality above all. There’s now so much focus on women and sometimes it’s a bit unfair to men.

The other thing that I’d like to say is that being a woman in Greece can be very difficult, because the country is very patriarchical. It gives me the feeling that I have to deal with much more problems in my country than abroad.

Hiwa

What does the history of Greek cinema bring to your work?

Nothing. I grew up watching American cinema, both blockbusters and indies. It’s only now that I started to research Greek cinema and discovered some very bold films from the past.

“Greek Weird Wave” is a term coined by some film critics in attempt to summarise the new Greek film scene. What do you think about that?

I think this term doesn’t really work, since it was fabricated to categorise a new type of film that Yorgos Lanthimos started. They made up this term after Dogtooth and Athina Rachel Tsangari‘s Attenberg, and some other films made at this time that had some similarities. But the way I see it, a film movement has to expand in time and create something new like the French New Wave, which was something really different to what existed before. So, I believe that the term is made up for marketing purposes since, from what I know, in Greece there are people doing films in their own unique ways, so it’s unfair for them to be trapped in this definition.

Maximiliano Fernandes Silva
maximilianofernandessilva@gmail.com