As the film starts to gain more interest, I find myself doing more interviews. I’m more than happy to accommodate anyone who wants to speak to me about the film. I really enjoy talking about what inspired me and the process in making it. As a result of these conversations I get a better appreciation of what has been accomplished.
One of my favourite conversations so far was with a lovely Greek journalist called Yannis Zoumboulakis in Cannes. He is a film critic for a broadsheet in Greece called Vima.
He was originally attracted by the film’s title. This was great to hear, especially as some people had suggested the title was not ‘catchy’ enough and that I should have gone with something like “When The Chips are Down.” But I always thought that this would make the film too obvious. So what if people can’t spell Papadopoulos? I don’t know anyone who can spell or even pronounce Zach Galifianakis (I just had to Google it) and it hasn’t prevented him from being found. I am sure Zach had agents suggesting he rename himself Zach Granger or Zach Gee or something equally anodyne.
Yannis, the film critic, came to the last screening at Cannes and we met after for a marathon chain smoking discussion that could only happen with a chain smoking Greek film critic. What a joy! I only started smoking again in Cannes because of my son’s broken leg and the stress of being out of control. I have, thankfully, left the cigarettes behind in Cannes (along with some control issues) and I now have two smoking rules. One – at the wrap party of a film I have made. Two – when at a film festival in the South of France. Smoking is prohibitively expensive and rare. It might be many years before I smoke again, if ever.
It seems that most Greek journalists have picked up on the themes of the film and what is happening in Greece. And this was the topic of conversation between Yannis and I. Like many, I believe we are moving away from a materialistic world because we have no other choice. The very foundations of our post war prosperity has been built on high levels of unsustainable debt and our system is broken. So when we got onto the politics of the film I said that the socialism within the film was not an intellectual socialism, based on ideas and theories. The film doesn’t subscribe to abstract political ideas. However, there was a ‘socialism of the heart’ in this film. You cannot define it as a set of principles. It’s just a state of being. The state of joy. Yannis was struck by this phrase and he wrote a comment piece with the title “Socialism of the heart”. If you can read Greek, it’s here:
I said to Yannis, after our discussion, that perhaps at some level we make films so we can talk about them over a cigarette on a balcony in Cannes. He kindly said that he thought the film had a great chance of ‘doing something’ and he wished me all the success, saying that in all probability I would not remember who he was the next time we met. Reading between the lines, he was suggesting that if the film did become a ‘success’ I would be far too self obsessed to remember him! I said that I was much more loyal than that. Also, these were some of the best cigarettes I have ever had. I will never forget our meeting. It was beautiful.