The Foreigner by Alethea AvramisA short film involves an entirely different creative process to a feature or a series. A filmmaker has very little time, less than 30 minutes to tell a story, grip his audience, evoke emotions and develop characters adequately. Indeed very few filmmakers manage to come up with shorts that tick all these boxes and the fact that Alethea Avramis’ The Foreigner does all this in less than half an hour and in a subtle and artistic way, is exactly what makes this film stand out among other shorts of its genre. The Foreigner is a beautifully made short, very much worthy of its place at the Short Film Corner at The Cannes Film Festival 2012 and definitely something you need to keep an eye out for.

Alethea Avramis has delivered a beautiful film, which she wrote and directed herself. It tells the story of a remote Greek village that is trying hard to increase its population in order to carry on receiving the few basic services that it has been enjoying so far by the local municipal government. When a foreigner accidentally finds himself travelling through the village, Kostas, the mayor, tries hard to keep him around and to make his fellow villagers welcome The Foreigner in order to save themselves from extinction.

The Foreigner by Alethea AvramisFunny? Definitely, in a realistic and emotional kind of way. In fact throughout the entire film what keeps the viewer with a constant smile on his face is the fact that everything is very realistic, calm, relaxed, genuine and warm. The entire film is a back-to-basics narrative, which gets its humour from the fact that its characters can’t see how inaccessible and distant they really are, since their genuine kindness and their hospitality clashes with their seclusion. Cultural differences and identity themes are the source of the film’s authenticity, inventiveness and humour.

The Foreigner by Alethea AvramisAlethea Avramis’ Greek background is obvious when watching The Foreigner. A filmmaker without her cultural diversity (American of Greek descent) could have never come up with something like this. Everything, from the story, the cast, the language to the direction and camera work is a beautiful and smooth cultural collision that one enjoys watching for the perfect balance it has somehow achieved. Avramis admits her filmmaking style to have been highly influenced by Italian cinema. She mentions Bertolucci, Vittorio de Sica and Fellini as just a few that have really made an impact on her way of storytelling as well as directing. “The way they capture the characters and show life, to me, is great cinema” she says. She also admires several directors from the UK, such as Danny Boyle and Joe Wright. As she states, “Boyle is a chameleon: he goes between film genres so seamlessly.  I’d like to have a career like that”.

The Foreigner by Alethea AvramisAvramis originally wrote The Foreigner‘s script in English and then the film’s producer, Babis Tsoutsas and screenwriter Agata Darlasi helped her turn it into Greek. For the writer-director having the script in Greek, an all Greek cast (apart from Philip Bretherton who plays the foreigner, aka Eric) and genuine Greek Peloponnesian villages as the film’s setting was very important. This way the distinct Greek spirit that the filmmaker inherited from her grandmother could shine through her work, while still incorporating her American upbringing and education in what she created. And although she follows Greek cinema, she states not to have been influenced in her work by a particular Greek filmmaker or film genre. “The Greek spirit, is more influential than anything else. I think that the commonality between all Greek work is that Greeks are never afraid to be themselves and tell you what they really think or how they feel, which is very much reflected in their cinema. They won’t shy away from a topic or theme that they feel is important to explore”.

The Foreigner by Alethea AvramisAlethea Avramis declares to have had the most amazing crew while making The Foreigner. She states that everyone was very excited to be a part of the project and that she was impressed by how extremely talented everyone was. She mentions the film’s director of photography, Stelios Pissas, and the art director, Marina Karnavou, among others. The Greek-American filmmaker is looking forward to making the most of all creative opportunity in her home country and is afraid of no crisis. In fact her plan is to go back to Greece and make a feature film very soon. And if The Foreigner is a preview of what is to follow, then we should all be looking forward to what Alethea Avramis will bring us next.

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Alethea C. Avramis film “Foreigner” selected to screen at the Short Film Corner at
The short film Foreigner premieres in Cannes Film Festival at
The truth about Alethea at
The Foreigner at IMDb

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