Apostolos Karakasis: National Garden

It has been done before: The filming of people in a park put together in a mosaic structure as a warm hug to people, to us all, with our joys and worries, dreams and sorrows. Polish Marcel Lozinski did it with his ”Anything can Happen”, and now Greek Apostolos Karakasis does it with his wonderful film from the National Garden in Athens. Where Lozinski was hiding with his camera and sent his son to be the matchmaker, Karakasis is the friend of the people he meets. We hear his voice once in a while from behind the camera, that he operates himself in an excellent way full of movement and an eye for the moment.

And what great characters that he has found during his one year long filming in the garden: A man who is close to pension, he has been working in the garden as a gardener for 22 years. The camera is there when his colleagues says goodbye to him. A Burmese young man who is in Greece to earn money that he sends back to his family – in the beginning of the story he collects snails to be sold, later on he gets a job in a supermarket. In a strong scene, the director shows him footage from the riots in his homeland. Two jogging men, connected by a string, as one of them is blind, talking intimately about problems in their lives. An old charming man surrounded on his bench by old ladies, bringing forward memories and singing some love songs. And the one who for me is the main character – a homeless man full of dignity, living from one day to the other, with a past that he never really tells us about, humour and sadness. A real film character with a face that the camera likes.

And many other fine seasonal observations from the garden, a mini-society, a mirror of what is outside. Karakasis has done all himself, directing, camera and editing. It is an impressive and very mature work that will travel the world and stay as an important film for Greece of today.  

Greece, 72 mins., Portolanos Films (portolan@hol.gr)

Link to tdf filmfestival, Greece 

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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