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Cast members and director of the head smacking whatsit, DOGTOOTH

Cast members and director of the head smacking whatsit, DOGTOOTH

03-30-10: Dogtooth cast members Christos Passalis and Aggeliki Papoulia with director Yorgos Lanthimos

On the occasion of the New York premiere of Dogtooth at New Directors/New Films last spring, distributor Kino Lorber hosted an afternoon at the Mission of Greece to the UN in New York. Over coffee and koulourakia, Greek and American journalists sat down with the film’s director and cast members to discuss the making of the film and its influence.

Much of our conversation centered on the experimental theater background of filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos and actors Christos Passalis and Aggeliki Papoulia, which is evident in this film. We also talked about FoG, of which distributor Rodrigo Brandão said I was the resident American expert.

I had wanted to see the film in its home country last fall at the 50th Thessaloniki International Film Festival, which I covered for indieWIRE, but the director withdrew it in a protest. As I wrote in my coverage, “More than 200 Greek directors, producers, and screenwriters boycotted the government-supported event in protest of outdated film funding laws and charges of favoritism in the Greek State Awards. The group withdrew 52 films from the festival and thereby forced the cancellation of state awards that select winners from the Greek films in the program. The protesting group, which originally convened in March and call themselves Filmmakers of Greece (FoG), held a ‘Greek Film Week’ in Athens that preceded the festival and highlighted acclaimed films from the past year such as ‘Dogtooth’ by Yorgos Lanthimos, which premiered at Cannes.”

Lanthimos had gone from winning the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes to spearheading the FoG movement, which, he told me at the UN event, continues unabated even during the current economic meltdown in Greece. When I took the photo of the group, they insisted that we move a Greek flag out of the picture.

Check out the Official Dogtooth Site for a synopsis, press, and playdates.

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