Legendary Greek filmmaker Pantelis Voulgaris has another smash hit on his hands with this year’s Greek Film Festival opener Little England (“Mikra Agglia”).
Much as I love the annual Greek Film Festival and its riveting mix of comedies, dramas and endless tales of saucy extramarital affairs, I must concede it is not every time we are blessed with such a critically-acclaimed masterpiece to kick things off.
One year that always sticks in my mind is 2005, when Pantelis Voulgaris’ Brides (co-produced by Martin Scorsese and starring Homeland‘s Damian Lewis) swept the Brisbane audience out of its seats and down the streets of Fortitude Valley, where we followed a violinist, a bouzouki player and a couple dressed up as “bride and groom” singing songs, arm in arm, in the spirit of a village wedding.
Now almost 10 years later we have Voulgaris’ latest offering Little England, based on an epic novel of romance, betrayal, intrigue, passion and loss. Voulgaris knew the story well; it was a bestseller written by his wife, Ioanna Karystiani, who adapted it into a screenplay for him too.
Set on the Greek island of Andros (dubbed “Little England” because of its affluence) and spanning interwar 1930s until well into the 1950s, this wonderful period drama follows an intriguing love triangle between two sisters – the quiet and reserved Orsa (Penelope Tsilika) and the flamboyant redheaded Moscha (Sofia Kokkali) – who are both in love with a dashing sea captain named Spiros (Andreas Konstantinou).
But life on Andros is not easy for women, who must contend with long periods of isolation brought on by the seafaring nature of the island’s economy. The breathtaking imagery of this charming, rocky retreat makes for a formidable character in its own right.
Red the review from The Hollywood Reporter over here (excerpt below):
“From the first shot, Voulgaris stresses the presence of the surrounding water and the violence of the waves, suggesting at once the perils of the sea and the relative safety of the landmass, though there are plenty of treacherous emotional shoals to be navigated on land”.
Need another reason to convince you this just might be the best Greek film of the decade? Little England walked away with Best Feature Film at this year’s Shanghai Film Festival, closed the Cairo International Film Festival and is Greece’s official entry for Best Foreign Film at next year’s Oscars.
More photos and trailer for Little England: