by David González
- The second feature film by Greece’s Vardis Marinakis goes down the road of an emotional refuge as it examines relationships between love-starved individuals
Zizotek [+see also:
interview: Vardis Marinakis
film profile], the title of Greek director Vardis Marinakis’ second film isn’t the name of a character or of any particular location. “Zizotek” is actually a keyword thrown around by one of the main characters in the film as he smuggles refugees in and out of the country. More specifically, it’s a word used to refer to a relationship between unconnected individuals whom fate has thrown together, and the protective solidarity between strangers which results. It’s along these lines that the film in question unfolds, having been presented in the East of the West section of the 54th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival a good nine years after the filmmaker first made his name with his powerful and lyrical work Black Field [+see also:
interview: Vardis Marinakis
film profile], in the very same competition.
That same power and lyricism can also be felt, to a certain degree, in Zizotek. A bright, nine-year-old boy called Jason (August Lambrou-Negrepontis) lives with his visibly depressed mother (Penelope Tsilika) in a Greek city. One day, during a visit to a picture-postcard popular festival in the neighbouring countryside - and for reasons which aren’t entirely clear - the mother abandons her son. After taking a few photos of them together which she leaves for her son to remember her by, and having knelt down before one of the festival’s religious images, commending herself and her son to her saintly care, the mother returns to the city, leaving her child all alone in the middle of the countryside.
As he wanders through the words, Jason comes across a caravan and soon discovers that it belongs to a silent hermit (Dimitris Xanthopoulos) who communicates by way of a notebook. Minas, as he’s called, leads an obscure life, unsuited to a child: aided in his work by a corrupt policeman, Minas is involved in smuggling refugees and illegal immigrants. But even after living back in the city with his grandmother for a spell, little Jason would still rather be with Minas than return to his old life, given the pain he suffered when his mother abandoned him (whom we will see later on in the film working in a brothel frequented by Minas). His new refuge just happens to be located in the exact same place where he was abandoned.
By way of these characters, Marinakis’ film delves into the new relationships which are forged between individuals previously starved of love. Minas’ mother, who lives in a nursing home visited by the man from time to time, explains to him that "happiness is the easiest thing to achieve", and it is this feeling of warmth which guides the movements of the characters who, ultimately, despite not being drawn and explored to perfection, lead the viewer along a path which ends in a pleasing emotional refuge. Immersed in nature (which might have been allowed a stronger presence by Christina Moumouri’s photography), Marinakis goes back in search of the mystical aspects which characterised his previous film – even if, this time, he doesn’t seem to get so close to them – in order to explore the tenderness of human relations, whether between family members, strangers, or even, as we see in one powerful and allegorical final scene, between man and beast. The ideas running through Zizotek are laudable, although a bit more work on the actual storyline carrying these ideas might have been necessary in order for them to really leave an impression on the viewer.
(Translated from Spanish)
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