Stergios Paschos is a Greek screenwriter, producer and film director. His short film O Elvis einai nekros was nominated for a Hellenic Film Academy Award; its feature adaptation Afterlov premiered at Locarno, São Paulo, Thessaloniki, where it won the Artistic Achievement Award; and Transilvania, where it won the FIPRESCI prize.
In an exclusive interview with Filmatique, Stergios Paschos discusses the mystery of cognition, the contract between the director and the viewer, summer, and his next project.
FILMATIQUE: Afterlov revolves around two thirty-something exes, Nikos and Sofia, who are reunited in a huge villa in the suburbs of Athens under rather strange circumstances. How did you come up with the idea for this story?
STERGIOS PASCHOS: It's always a mystery for me how ideas form. I guess something is in my mind for long time as a wish or a fear, many times subconsciously. And then a day comes when all these thoughts take shape in the form of an idea. I really have no idea how this mechanism works. Many times I have the impression that I am interested in a subject and when I put it down on paper it is something totally different from what I thought it was at the beginning.
FLMTQ: Both Nikos and Sofia are rather immature characters who fight, bicker, needle, tease, undermine and ultimately seem to care for each other. Throughout the film, Nikos speaks directly to the camera, breaking the fourth wall and divulging his true thoughts and fears. What motivated you to take up this particular device as a gateway for the audience into Nikos' psychology?
SP: [spoiler alert!] The idea behind that is that Nikos is something like the director of a film, or the situation he sets up. I wanted to strengthen that role with him talking directly to the viewer. It's like he's inviting Sofia into a trap that, at the end, he will fall into. And because he makes us accomplices with his trap the shock will be even bigger when he loses control. Or at least that was what I had in mind. That's also why the breaking of the fourth wall almost stops when Sofia enters the movie, because this device signifies a contract between him and us.
FLMTQ: The dynamic between Nikos and Sofia feels very natural. Can you discuss the casting process and how you worked with the actors to develop such an organic means of interacting with each other?
SP: I knew them very well and had already made a short film with these characters and actors when I started writing the screenplay of Afterlov. After the first draft we did rehearsals and then I wrote a second draft with changes that came up during the rehearsals. Also, the actors have been friends and collaborators for years. So there was already an established relationship between them and between the three of us. Part of the film is the exploration of this relationship.