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November 12, 2021

Denver Film Festival - Moon, 66 Questions

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Jacqueline Lentzou - 2021
Film Movement

Jacqueline Lentzou's debut feature is about a woman, Artemis, about thirty years old, returning to Athens to tend to her ill father. The bedridden father, Paris, was found sitting in a car, dehydrated after a couple of days. Artemis has always felt distant from her father, reluctantly taking responsibility for his physical rehabilitation. After a series of starts and stops, a bond has been created between the two.

The film begins with a split between past and present. The first images are of home videos dated mostly from 1996, while what is heard are the thoughts of Artemis. It is not until much later that it is understood that the videos were taken by and of her father. There are chapters signified by the image of a tarot card, representing a theme within that chapter. The film is told from Artemis' point of view while Paris is mostly inexpressive, even when he is tentatively mobile.

Lentzou has described her film as a collage. As indicated by the division into chapters, there is no traditional narrative arc. Several of the scenes appear to have been improvised or at least created out of an improvised collaboration between Lentzou and Sofia Kokkali who plays Artemis. In one scene, Artemis is with Paris, eating ice cream straight from the scooper, laughing and belching, for the first time sharing a humorous moment with her father. Later, making a bed, Artemis breaks down in frustration, burying herself completely under a mound of blankets. In a scene, washing an SUV with a garden hose in a garage, sliding on the wet surface, Artemis breaks into a solo dance with music from the car radio.

The lack of communication between Artemis and Paris is echoed in a scene when family members seek a full-time nurse for Paris. One potential candidate is a woman who apparently does not speak Greek and responds to questions either with silence or nods that do not provide conclusive answers. There is also the unstated assumption that Artemis has no other life other than taking care of Paris.

As Paris, Lazaros Georgakopoulos does a convincing job as a middle aged man struck with multiple sclerosis. One of the credits indicates that Georgakopoulos used the Alexander Technique, usually a posture based form of physical therapy, in order to enact the role of a person with limited physical ability. At one point, Artemis notes offscreen that the day is also the birthday of Gena Rowlands. While it has yet to be confirmed in any interview I have read, Lentzou;s best moments seem to be under the influence of the Greek-American John Cassavetes.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at November 12, 2021 07:31 AM