Angeliki Antoniou

Angeliki Antoniou is a director, screenwriter and producer. She has a degree in Architecture from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and in Film Directing from the DFFB, the German Film and Television Academy in Berlin. She lives between Berlin and Athens. She has directed feature films and documentaries that have screened and been awarded at prestigious international film festivals including Locarno, Berlinale, Moscow, Montreal, Palm Springs, Göteborg, Thessaloniki and Cinemed and distributed worldwide. Her acclaimed film “Eduart” played at over fifty festivals around the globe, was selected by the European Film Academy for the 2007 European Film Awards and was Greece’s submission to the 80th Academy Awards for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. She founded the Angeliki Antoniou Filmproduktion, an independent production company based in Berlin.

Tara Karajica talks to Angeliki Antoniou about feminism and film and her latest film, “Green Sea,” starring Angeliki Papoulia, a charming comic drama about about a woman with no memory who starts a new life as a cook at a run-down seaside tavern, that is screening in the Europe! Voices of Women in Film program at this year’s Sydney Film Festival.




How did you get into filmmaking?

Angeliki Antoniou: As a child, I used to spend my holidays at grandparents’ who lived in the provincial town of Livadia. Every time I arrived at this place, my grandfather would pick me up at the train station and give me a ride on his horse to the open air cinema called Armonia. There, I had the chance to see a lot of wonderful films, both Greek and foreign. Suddenly, I came across a magical world in a beautiful environment far away from the hard realism of Athens, the city I was born and grew up in. This was my first contact with the film world. When I was fourteen, I wanted to become an actress, but my conservative family would not allow it. So, I first studied Architecture in Greece.  After graduating, I understood pretty soon that it would not be my thing for the rest of my life. Even as a child, I was very creative. I was painting and writing stories and poetry. Later, I became interested in photography. All this brought me to filmmaking. Then, I decided to go to Berlin where I studied Film Directing at the German Film and Television Academy. After completing my studies, I had to cross an ocean of insecurities. I went for it. Filmmaking is always hard, but I never gave up. And, I have never regretted it.

What inspired you to make Green Sea?

A.A.: The Greek novel, To See the Sea by Evgenia Fakinou. I loved her idea of a woman with no memory still remembering how to cook who creates memories for the regulars of a run-down seaside tavern. I thought that is a very crazy and unique story and quite different from my previous films, which had been realistic, dramatic and tackled hard social themes.

In Green Sea, you portray cooking as a healing influence in a sort of Proustian way, where food brings back memories of past moments and creates miraculous encounters between people. Can you comment on that?

A.A.: I think cooking plays an important role in this film, but Green Sea is not only a film about cooking; it’s something more than that. But, of course, Anna’s cooking has a healing influence on the regular customers because they are simple workers that don’t think about good food; they just come to this place and they drink beer or wine. And, I think you cook to create memories. Memories from one’s childhood or one’s youth. And so, it creates a bond among them and with her. It is a very positive influence in their lives and they become alive again. Before, these people just went there to drink something; they didn’t talk to each other a lot, they brought their own food in Tupperware, they didn’t care, but through her food – it’s simple, traditional food, yet prepared with love and thought – taste and memory blended together. They belong together. It is a taste; it is a smell… There are so many things that function at the same time. We see the food, we smell the food, we taste the food and it brings back memories and creates communication. When we go to eat something, we have better communication with the people we’re breaking bread with if the food is good and if it creates memories from our childhood, from the past.

Can you talk about Anna? How do you see her? How was it working with Angeliki Papoulia?

A.A.: Anna is woman who is lonely and who has a very successful intellectual career. Anna is a woman who goes there in need. She has no memory, but she remembers how to cook. This is an intellectual woman, and she succeeds in making a new start with her cooking. Forgetting all the stress and pressures of her real profession, she just gives her cooking out to the people, and she gets affection, feelings and recognition back. And, this is a healing process for her as well.

Angeliki Papoulia is a great actress, but it was not very easy to work on that role because it’s difficult to work with an actress who has to portray someone with no memory. We had to do research and we did it with a neurologist who showed us films with women who had amnesia or Alzheimer. And so, we could work on our own. We worked a lot in order to find the perfect way for her to react.

Can you compare Anna to Maro and the other women who are very different from her?

A.A.: I think she’s an intellectual woman and she’s a nice lady. She’s had no contact with the people. She begins to have contact later. Maro and the other women are normal archetypes of women that we know. She’s a hairdresser and her assistant is a woman from that area. They are simple, normal women. Anna is not normal and she has a secret. Anna is sophisticated and comes from another world. I think it is very interesting that all these three women are so different. And, the strange thing is that they all have strong personalities as well. Even Maro is a strong woman. She’s a hairdresser, but she’s the one bringing money to the table. And, when she wants to do something, she does it, but as you saw in the scene where she dances, she is punished by her man because she is dancing in front of all these men. I think all the women are strong in their own ways, but they are very different because Anna is nicer, more sophisticated and has other weapons in her life, but I think she learns to see the other side of life that she didn’t know.  That’s her experience there; going to this shady tavern makes her see the other side of life, which is very important for her and for us as well.

Can you talk about the shooting process?

A.A.: The shoot was very hard because we shot the film during the winter; it was really below zero. You don’t see it in the film. We shot away from Athens, and there we didn’t have a heating system; we had two mushrooms to keep us warm, and it was very difficult because it was a very, very heavy winter at the beginning of 2019 and the people were wearing light clothes, and they had pretend that it wasn’t so cold. It was very hard to shoot. And, we also had to create the tavern because this place had burnt down. The production designer had to create it, and it wasn’t easy at all.

Are you a feminist? If so, how does it inform your filmmaking?

A.A.: This is a big question. In order to make films, you need fantasy, poetry, sensibility, knowledge and courage. And, these are human qualities. It doesn’t have anything to do with gender, or if you’re a man or a woman; it’s very difficult to make films. You need money, you need support from the State, from the funds. So, you need passion, ideas and, of course, talent, and all these are human skills and human things, so I don’t want to work with these clichés. Of course, there are some categories where I have experienced this with the TV networks because I shot for the German television as well, and it is easier for men to direct TV movies. The percentage of female directors is smaller than the percentage of male directors, but we need the same qualities. I think it is due to the fact that our society supports men more than it does women.

In that sense, can you elaborate more on the situation of women in film today? How is it in Germany and Greece?

A.A.: I think there are more women now, but of course it’s crazy that we make a revolution where we say: “A woman got an Oscar or the Palme d’Or in Cannes.” There are so many festivals! Of course, there is an improvement, but there are still a lot more men who are making films than women. The same things happen in Germany, and that’s why there is a movement in Germany started by women who are fighting for equality, for the same amounts of money for men and women. In terms of money, women still do not receive the same amounts, the same budgets as men. That’s not correct, that’s not fair because, of course, the decision-makers at the TV networks or film funds are mostly men. And, it’s the same in Greece. So, there should be more women decision-makers where film funding gets decided and distributed and it should be equal in politics as well, everywhere… That’s the problem.

What subjects interest you and that you tackle in your work? What would you like your audiences to come away with after watching your films?

A.A. It depends. I cannot say that there is only one subject that interests me. It’s different subjects and sometimes they come to me on the street because I direct documentaries as well, not only fiction films. While I was shooting Green Sea, I also shot a documentary about stray dogs in Athens. It depends. Sometimes, I read something in a newspaper and I find it very interesting. I care about social issues – personal, private issues in a social environment, in a social context.

I want audiences to feel empathy. I don’t want to give answers. Green Sea is a feel-good film, but I don’t give easy answers to the audience because the ending is open. Everybody should aim to interpret the story as he or she wishes. I try to tell interesting stories without being didactic. There has been a change in my filmmaking in recent years. I try not to make films that are too dark. I don’t want to kill my audience. I had made films that were very cruel, hard, dramatic stories. Now, I am trying to tell stories with drama. I don’t want my audience to run away. I want to give them joy. And hope.

Do you have a favorite female filmmaker and a favorite film by a female filmmaker?

A.A.: My beloved female filmmaker is Pedro Almodóvar. I know he is a (gay) man, but I think he is the best female filmmaker because he’s so good at revealing the female world with his heroines. I appreciate this and I admire it. I like all his films. I also like The Piano by Jane Campion. There are many films made by female filmmakers that I like.

What are your next projects?

A.A.: My next project is taking a trip, doing nothing and looking at the sea, meeting my friends again and trying to recharge my batteries because I’m very tired. Although I have proposals for directing and some ideas for films, I want to find a period of peace in my life because I shot and produced two films in two years. I have to find free time for myself because I think it is very important to take some time for ourselves so that we can create again.



Photo credits: Courtesy of Angeliki Antoniou.

This interview was conducted in partnership with:


Tara Karajica

Tara Karajica is a Belgrade-based film critic and journalist. Her writings have appeared in "Indiewire," "Screen International," "Variety," "Little White Lies" and "Film New Europe," among many other media outlets, including the European Film Academy’s online magazine, "Close-up" and Eurimages. She is a member of the European Film Academy, the Online Film Critics Society and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists as well as the recipient of the 2014 Best Critic Award at the Altcine Action! Film Festival. In September 2016, she founded "Yellow Bread," a magazine dedicated entirely to short films, ranked among the 25 Top Short Film Blogs and Websites on the Planet in 2017. In February 2018, she launched "Fade to Her," a magazine about successful women working in Film and TV and in 2019, she was a member of the Jury of the European Shooting Stars (European Film Promotion). She is currently a programmer for live action shorts at PÖFF Shorts, Head of the Short Film Program and Live Action Shorts programmer at SEEFest and Narrative Features Programmer at the Durban International Film Festival. Tara is a regular at film festivals as a film critic, moderator and/or jury member.

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