Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art


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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2020 12:57 pm 
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NEW FRENCH SHORTS
VASILIS KEKATOS: THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US AND THE SKY (2019)

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The hot Greek 9-minute film that won the Cannes Palme d'Or

Rose girl
rose of a girl
which will you sell me
your roses
yourself
or both?
--Ancient Greek lyric


This isn't a French short film. But the young Greek director Vasilis Kekatos earned the Palme d'Or at Cannes 2019 against 4,240 competitors. He received it from the hands of Claire Denis, the great French director. It also won the Queer Palm. Kekatos dedicated the win to his uncle who came out as gay at 17 in a conservative family, and later emigrated to Australia to live his own life.

This is a brief, intense gay story of a meeting, a pickup. The guy at the station wants to get 22.5€ out of the mustaciooed young man on the motorbike to pay his way bak home to Athens. It's a lonely dark Edward-Hopper kind of gas station, it's late at night. Banter is tossed back and forth, but the guy with the bike doesn't smoke, doesn't want to buy oregami "lovebirds," hasn't money to give. The conversation, however, becomes more and more smilingly intimate. The intensity and vividness and on-point acting make this a standout. It is also a bold statement by the Cannes jury, I suppose, to give the highest short film award to such an openly gay film.

The air in the film is tense with urgency and need. It's desolate. If the petitioner isn't successful, he may be stuck here for many hours. At the same time, there is an increasing sense of mutual attraction and desire, another thing not to waste. The camerawork by Giorgos Valsamis is tight, capturing the growing intimacy and danger, the stark light, the bright-eyed faces. The editing by Stamos Dimitropoulos maintains the minute-to-minute intensity.

The two actors who make it all work are Ioko Ioannis Kotidis, as the petitioner, and Nikos Zeginoglou, as the biker with the money - or the ride.

Filmmaker Vasilis Kekatos, who is now 29, abandoned law studies in London to pursue his passion for cinema, and is a graduate student of the film department of Brunel University’s School of Arts in the British capital. He won a short film challenge and mentorship at Sundance in 2016.

The Distance Between Us and the Sky/ «Απόσταση Ανάμεσα στον Ουρανό και Εμάς», 9 mins, in Greek, debuted at Locarno in 2018, wining the Palme d'Or for short film the next year at Cannes, and won or was nominated for a dozen awards at as many other international festivals, including Clermont-Ferrand, London, Melbourne, Sarajevo and Telluride.

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