Press Conference: Nikos Panayotopoulos

This year the 44th Thessaloniki International Film Festival honors one of the most prominent Greek directors, Nikos Panayotopoulos, with a retrospective of his work. “It is a chance of a lifetime to be able to see all of Panayotopoulos’ films in Greece, although abroad it has been done numerous times. This was the right time to do it since his character and creative career are befitting in the general mood of the Festival”, said the Director of the Thessaloniki Film Festival, Michel Demopoulos while presenting the Greek artist to the audience in the framework of the press conference given today at Warehouse C of the Thessaloniki port.

Nikos Panayotopoulos spoke about the film that best characterizes his work: “I believe that Variété is the best representation of my work. It can’t get any worse. I wanted to mix up and negate everything. I managed to make the film. It’s strange sometimes how a film becomes a film. Nobody knows”.

The festival and critique

When asked about the Festival and the fact that this year it presents a retrospective of his work (something that is usually done when a director abandons cinema), the Greek director said, “Everyone knows that festivals or these types of ‘memorials’ don’t thrill me. I’m here because the people of the Festival, who have been my friends for years, kindly asked me to attend and I figured that I would cause more problems by not accepting the invitation. I think that the thing I dislike about festivals is their competitive nature. I’m not interested in being better than someone else. I want to be who I am. Every week, film critics, who have evolved into headmasters, grade us for our work. I think its outrageous to be taking high-school exams at this age!”.

I’m not against critique because as a human being I criticize everything and everyone. However, critics must learn to accept my criticism as I accept theirs. I can’t imagine cinema without film critics. When I make a film, I collect all of the critiques because I find this form of dialogue interesting. It’s better than silence, isn’t it?”

I don’t love my films

It’s natural for my work to be a part of my life. I believe its unnatural to say: now I’ll live and now I’ll make a film. It’s not hard to do both simultaneously. Other things are hard, such as funding, not the creative process itself”, Mr. Panayotopoulos said and added, “I feel bad anytime someone speaks about my films”. “For me, cinema is about other directors, not myself. I’ve wanted to enter the wonderful world of cinema since I was a child but I’m afraid I’ll never be able to do it. You see, I’ve never loved my films, I only love the process of making them. I never watch them afterwards”. Besides the topics that a film deals with, it must always ask ‘what is cinema?’. I haven’t found the answer to that question yet, and so I keep making films”.

The future of cinema

I think that there is a sensibility in cinema nowadays. This rationalism allows feather brained people to easily grasp reality. In truth, though, this is much more complicated than what those who create this realism believe it is. Goddard was a great realist director”. “I’ve said it before that one must be generous when dealing with cinema. It’s not necessary to discover yourself in a film. You explore someone else’s world, though, which could prove very interesting and important, and you aren’t required to like it either”.

I’m happy to be able to make a film the way I want to. I see a trend emerging from various people in cinema to make big productions and set standards. I think that its wonderful to be able to do exactly what you want, rather than creating a product with a price tag that has no value”. As far as young directors are concerned, Mr. Panayotopoulos said, “I have nothing to teach to anyone. I myself am still trying to learn. I don’t understand why new directors consider me a mentor”. His new film As Mr. Panayotopoulos said, his new film “Delivery” is in the editing stage. His next film, “Dying in Athens” will be a musical. “It’s a serious topic with a superficial wrapping. Specifically, it is about someone dying”, said the Greek director and added that the music for the film is something to be kept a secret.