Posted by Milk Bar Mag on 23/10/15.
Gia Panta (Forever) is a wonderful minimalist film set in in the Greek town of Piraeus and directed by the talented Margarita Manda. The storyline revolves around two characters named Kostas Fillipoglou and Anna Mascha, depicting their everyday routines within their desolate environments. Kosta is an engine train driver who drives throughout the city, and Anna sells ferry boat tickets. Every morning she boards the train that he drives in order to get to Piraeus from Thiseion, and after work she boards the same train in order to get from Thiseion back to Piraeus. Kosta has constantly watched her carry out her routine for years, and he has always been drawn to her but unable to break out of his starry reverie long enough to actually approach her.
The scenery is devoid of other people (except for the two characters), and they don’t converse for a while into the movie. Kosta’s eyes are full of longing and tenderness as he watches Anna board the train, walk to work, carry out her work duties and board the train back home. One day he decides to follow her back to her apartment and watches her from outside. He introduces himself eventually, and Anna is relatively formal at the start in response to his introduction but starts getting scared when he keeps materialising everywhere she’s at. The final straw reveals itself as she once again notices him watching her at work from a distance; a policeman arrives at her workplace and she converses with him, but he decides to let it go. She is therefore resigned to endure Kosta’s constant supervision of her, which only fills her with trepidation.
The camera constantly focuses on both Kosta and Anna’s facial expressions – from the lines of adoration and intrigue on his face to the mixture of suspicion, wariness and confusion etched all over her face. Eventually, her curiosity wins out and she boards the train with him as he explains how he’s been watching her for years, since he drives the train she takes everyday. He loves his job because he constantly gets to view the city in the morning and in the evening. He watches the people milling within it and even invents stories about who they are, where their destinations are at and why they’re going there.
Forever‘s minimalistic attributes are what make it a masterpiece; its desaturated tones and repetitive focus on Piraeus’ physical landscape and its features speak volumes. As an audience, we are encouraged to deconstruct our usual expectations of a film by appreciating the small details that contribute to the bigger picture. We notice the noise of the train as it zips through the landscape, the sound of seagulls screeching in the air, the sound of the ripples and splashes of the water as Kosta dips his hand inside it and then draws it back out.
The environment is painted with strong tonal variations that showcase its aesthetic beauty. Forever really draws from the ‘less is more’ philosophy, and some people may feel disconcerted by the isolation present within the colourless atmosphere in the film, but you can appreciate the details that emerge from its simplicity.
Forever is a beautiful love story that is definitely worth a watch. The characters are realistic portrayals of the everyday routines that some of us already have, and its minimalism is a refreshing contrast to the constant barrage of events and actions that occur in most non-minimalist films in today’s society. It allows you to shape your own interpretations regarding its meanings and messages its trying to convey.
The Delphi Bank 22nd Greek Film Festival runs from Wednesday October 14 until Sunday November 1 at Cinema Como at 299 Toorak Road, South Yarra.