New York.- By Vicki J. Yiannias
Spurred by her exposure to film and TV production while working at MTV, NBC, CBS, and regional production companies in Greece and Cyprus, Pennsylvania-born and raised filmmaker Alana Kakoyiannis, 28, has a strong desire to tell her own stories.
This desire was enriched when she participated, with seven other New York filmmakers and eight Moroccan filmmakers, in the Marrakech/Tribeca Film Exchange for two weeks in November, 2005, under the aegis of the Tribeca Film Institute, Hunter College. The joint venture with the Marrakech International Film Foundation included Master Classes with the renown filmmakers, Martin Scorcese, and the Iranian, Abbas Kariostami.
Three of her works, Everything in Between, and NYFI (The Bride), as well as a piece of video art, Untitled, ranging in length from 5 to 7:10 minutes, were shown recently in Manhattan and Queens. Everything in Between, created and NYFI (The Bride), were shown in a screening titled One Frame at a Time, shown at the IMAGINASIAN theater on May 11 and on May 21 at the Hell on Reels Festival at the Queens Museum. On Thursday, May 18, her piece of video art, Untitled played on a loop at a CUNY arts event.
“To think simply,” says Ms. Kakoyiannis, is one of the most important lessons she learned from the workshop in Marrakech. “Often Kiarostami’s works blurs the line between reality and fiction. A good story is grounded in reality. Revealing truths that lie within the everyday moments is a great way to help a film resonate with your audience.”
“Scorsese’s enthusiasm for film was contagious,” Ms. Kakoyiannis told The Greek News about her experience in the workshop. “He showed us several films that inspired him throughout his career, with interesting bits of information, she said, such as that the shower stabbing scene from Psycho was Scorcese’s inspiration for the Sugar Ray scene in Raging Bull.
Everything in Between, selected by the Tribeca Film Institute and the Marrakech International Film Festival Foundation to be screened as part of the special Once Upon a Time in Marrakech program in the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival, which featured a short film by Kiarostami, consists of footage shot on location in Morocco. A camel, street and market scenes, musicians, a dancer, and other images, in transparent, overlapping, and changing images. signify the “exotic.”
Says Kakoyiannis, this captures, collects processes, and selects images, evaluating their authenticity and challenging the way we interpret the word “exotic”.
Ms. Kakoyiannis has thought about the concept of romantic love in the context of traditional cultures, as is evident in Nyfi (The Bride.” This film, a kind of tribute to her grandparents, who came from Cyprus, is invested with the meaning of marriage to someone you don’t know, and the start of a new life in an unknown place, contrasted with a marriage to someone with whom you have fallen in love, as has Alana, who will wed this summer, in Cyprus, to a Cypriot, in whom she has” found her home”. In the film, a small girl, turning cartwheels and doing somersaults in in the backyard of the family home (Alana), suggests the carry-over — in spite of changing times — of tradition; of a bride from Cyprus, across generations, to her granddaughter, This would be a good film for a Greek Museum program; one of its sensitive features, not drawn on as frequently as it should, is the use of traditional music. In this case it is a moving wedding song in which the bride tells her mother that she will see her daughter, who is leaving for foreign parts, only in the sun. . . and at night.
In Untitled we hear crackling sounds as something semi-transparent– plastic– is drawn across the scene of a window of an apartment building. It is a video camera being wrapped in plastic. This is an attempt, says Ms. Kakoyiannis, “to make the process of using technology tactile.” By making a physical connection with the medium as well as using it as the subject itself, the artist aims to channel the experience of the video camera in the very same way that we use the camera t is used to channel human emotion. “The result painstakingly reminds us that despite our desire to believe that video offers deeper introspection into the self, as well as the world around us, it is merely a piece of hardware, which cannot be equated with real experience,” says Ms. Kakoyiannis. Layer upon layer, criss-crossing, until the image of the window is obscured. All is silent, milky-white. Then we get unwrapped. Little by little, layer by layer, crackling, unwrapping. In the end we are left with the same apartment window again. Unwrapped. Interesting.
Her work has appeared in various film festivals and galleries throughout the United States and abroad, and ranges from interview-based documentary to abstract, image-dominated experimentalism, such as Untitled.
As do the three films described, the fact that Ms. Kakoyiannis is currently working on a documentary about a Greek Diner in Astoria also testifies to her sense of experimentation. She is currently pursuing her M.F.A. in Integrated Media Arts at Hunter College.