Seven years after their film Dogtooth paved the way for what has been termed the New (Weird) Wave of Greek Cinema, and was even nominated by the Academy for Best Foreign Film, Giorgos Lanthimos (writer-director) and Efthymis Filippou (writer) are once again headed for the Oscars. This time they are nominated for Best Original Screenplay for The Lobster, their first English-language film, which has already been lauded on the international festival circuit.
If the Academy members should this year choose to award a truly original, in every sense of the word and not just as in “not adapted,” screenplay, then this ought to be it: The Lobster is an unconventional love story set in a world where single people, according to the rules of The City, are arrested and transferred to The Hotel. There they are obliged to find a matching mate in 45 days. If they fail, they are transformed into an animal of their choosing and released into The Woods. A desperate Man escapes from The Hotel to The Woods where The Loners live and falls in love, although it is against their rules.
As Lanthimos said in an interview for The Washington Post, “…we wanted to do something about romantic relationships and how single people are treated within society. The pressure that is on them in order to be with someone and …the pressure that they put on themselves to be with someone. What we like to do is push those situations to extremes in order to reveal the absurdity behind them, behind things that we consider normal in our everyday life.”
One more Greek is nominated for an Oscar this year. Her name is Daphne Matziaraki and she is a graduate from the Documentary department of Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Her thesis film, the short documentary 4.1 Miles on the refugee crisis in Greece, has already won a Student Academy Award in September and is now nominated in the category Documentary (Short Subject).
4.1 Miles narrates one day in the life of Kyriakos Papadopoulos, coast guard captain in Lesvos, who like many other coast guard officers on the island has been charged with the task of ensuring that the small bit of water they were patrolling would not turn into a mass grave for the thousands of refugees fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and attempting to cross from Turkey to Greece.
As Matziaraki wrote in the New York Times after her Student Oscar win in September, “We don’t all confront the refugee crisis with the same immediacy as the coast guard captain portrayed here. But as our world becomes more interconnected, and more violent, we do all face a choice — would we act as he does, to save the life of stranger? Or would we turn away?”
You can watch 4.1 miles here:
The 89th Academy Awards ceremony will take place on the 26th of February at Dolby Theater in Hollywood.