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Joseph Proimakis [Film Festival 11.06.09] Greece review interview drama

Year: 2010
Director: Vardis Marinakis
Writer: Vardis Marinakis
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Joseph Proimakis

Back in 1453, the rising Ottoman empire overtook the Byzantines and, as they had done on numerous other nations they' d invaded, they set a military occupation over what later came to be the Greek nation. The occupation lasted for almost four centuries, until the Turks were overthrown by the Greek revolution that broke out in 1821.

One of the reasons the Turks stayed in charge for so long, was a drafting method they implemented to renew their military forces, while reducing the youth population of the various occupied nations. It was known as devshirme, or children-gathering, and the main idea was to take away male children at a very young age and raise them as Turkish soldiers, undergoing a very rough and strict military training, part of which was the conversion to Islam and the programming of hatred towards their mother-nations. The soldiers came to be known as janizaries (from the Greek word yenos, or jenos, which translates to descent).

As a result, parents of sons, would seek out various methods to spare their children, and the most common practice would be to send them, at the youngest age possible, to one of the numerous female Christian convents of the time, and have the nuns raise them as girls, never allowing the boys to know of their anatomical difference to the other nuns.

That’s the historical axis around which Vardis Marinakis spins his drama about a young janizary warrior, who manages to escape his Turkish masters and reach the motherland to find himself wounded and in the care of a group of nuns at a Greek female convent. Obviously, he falls in love with one of the nuns, and after they elope to avoid him being found by the Turks, he discovers the nun is actually a boy.

His drama about two people of such similar and yet so disparate fates, is a composed study in the ideas of sexual and national identity, how one’s idea of identity is formed, and how one’s mind and soul might be plagued by chains due to lack of freedom to form his own version of identity.

Coupled by the jaw-dropping cinematography by Marcus Waterloo and underlined by Marinakis’ expertly choreographed direction, his remarkable elegance and impeccable sense of timing, Black Field is a haunting vision of one of Greece’s darkest moments of history, encapsulated in a beautiful, yet despairing claustrophobic environment, that is uplifted by masterfully economic performances by new-comers Hristos Passalis (also star of Greek sensation, Dogtooth) and Sofia Georgovassili, as well as veteran thespian Despina Babadelli.

The film hopes to be featured at Berlin's line-up come February, and the fest will be all the stronger for it, if you ask me, but Marinakis will be having his first ever public screening tonight, at the Week of Greek Cinema, a series of screenings set up by the Filmmakers of Greece (FoG) initiative. The FoG group is a rogue group of filmmakers who have caused quite a stir in the Greek film industry, by boycotting this year’s State Awards (the Greek equivalent of the Oscars), in order to push the Greek government to bring forth a much awaited and demanded for new film legislation, that will hopefully replace the one in force since almost two decades ago.

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Anonymous (11 years ago) Reply

Really awesome interview, but spoiler much? Sheesh.


Joseph Proimakis (11 years ago) Reply

well it's not much of a spoiler, the story's twists are even mentioned in the press releases :)


Lobo (11 years ago) Reply

What do you mean come back? Just because you havent seen them doesnt mean he hasnt been on lots of recently released movies.

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