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Critic’s picks for Greek film fest Hellas Filmbox

Hellas Filmbox, kicking off Jan 15 through Jan 19 at Babylon, is a solid showcase of the best of current Greek cinema. This year's line-up brings a political message, great features and a terrific shorts programme. Our critic shares his top picks.

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Photo courtesy of Hellas Filmbox. Our critic’s essential viewing from Berlin’s Greek film festival Hellas Filmbox, Jan 15-19, at Babylon.

Every year, Hellas Filmbox consistently delivers the goods when it comes to showcasing the increasing quality of current Greek cinema. The motto of the fest’s 5th edition is “Feminine, sunny and blue” and a great many films are in keeping with the central theme of equal rights for women in the workplace, especially in media and politics. On top of the many screenings, the festival will hold panels and discus­sions on topical issues, highlighting the differences and similarities between Greece and Germany.

The festival opens with the German premiere of Winona by Alexandros Voulgaris, a.k.a. The Boy. Shot on Kodak 16mm, it’s a striking, mysteri­ous, Picnic At Hanging Rock-echoing story about four women enjoying a seemingly ordinary outing to the beach. Other films in the Competition strand this year include two impressive feature debuts: Franco-Greek director Basile Doganis’ Meltem, which deftly explores ideas of identity and belong­ing, and Steve Krikris’ The Waiter, an enticing mix of deadpan humour and neo-noir murder thriller. Also worth seeing are Panagiotis Evangelidis’ Irving Park, a provocative doc about four gay men in their 60s exploring master-slave relationships, Marios Piperidis’ excellent comedy Smuggling Hendrix, and last year’s Berlinale-selected The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea by Syllas Tzoumerkas.

As great as the features are, don’t miss this year’s shorts selection which is a true highlight. Standouts include Vasilis Kekatos’ sombrely poetic The Distance Between Us And The Sky, which won the Short Film Palme d’Or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, and Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest work, Nimic, which puts a supremely eerie spin on the childish game of directly echoing a sentence back to someone. Starring Matt Dillon and Daphne Patakia, it’s a subtly disturbing gem that gets under your skin and asks questions about relationships and identity.

Hellas Filmbox | Babylon. Jan 15-19.