Thelyia Petraki is a film director and a script writer. She graduated from CALARTS (USA) with a BA in Film, and from UCL (UK) with an MA in Visual & Material Culture.
Tara Karajica talks to Thelyia Petraki about her short film, “Bella,” that was nominated for the European Film Award for Best Short Film, as well as her thoughts on the short form, women in film today and what she is up to next.
How did you get into filmmaking and what inspires you?
Thelyia Petraki: Well, I got into filmmaking really by accident. When I was in school, I was trying to figure out what to do with my life. In Greece, it was very difficult to become a female director, so that wasn’t really something that I was thinking about. But because I was really in love with filmmaking, I thought I should just go ahead and study it and see what that can bring to the table. And so, I went to school and I couldn’t stop! Everything in life inspires me. Every single thing; situations, people, travelling around the world, books, music and, of course, films.
Can you talk about your short film, Bella?
T.P.: Well, Bella is the portrait of a woman who we see through the letters that she was sending to her husband while he was away in Moscow from September 1986 to June 1987 while the Soviet Union was collapsing. Therefore, in Bella, I was trying to parallel Anthi and Christos’ story and the fall of their relationship with the fall of this era. I got to read her letters – there were forty letters – and I read them in a few hours. I couldn’t stop reading them. They got me really emotional and many, many images were stuck in my head afterwards from these letters and I thought that this was going to be a film for me.
How do you see the short form today?
T.P.: I love the short form today. It’s going pretty well. I think we can see many talented people exploring their voices and I think it’s very, very interesting. We can get very inspired by short films. And, it’s a great way of expressing things that are very difficult to express in the long form.
What is your opinion on women in film today?
T.P.: I think we should have more female directors in our lives because the female view is a view that we haven’t explored that much yet. And, I think it’s a breath of fresh air; it’s something new, it’s something strong, it’s something that is necessary, and it balances everything. So, we need different voices and we need different views and I think female filmmaking offers this option.
Who is your favorite female filmmaker and what is your favorite film by a female filmmaker?
T.P.: Well, there are a lot of male directors that I adore. I will say something that is new and Greek: I love the works of Konstantina Kotzamani and Jacqueline Lentzou. They are young Greek filmmakers that have an amazing future ahead of them and I can’t wait to see more of their work.
What are your next projects?
T.P.: I’m writing my first feature that I’m trying to fund. And, on the side, I’m writing different stuff as well and I’ll see how that goes from here.
Photo credits: Courtesy of the European Film Academy.