Tag Archives: Documentary

Amnesia Diaries, by Stella Theodorakis

Stella Theodorakis takes a page out of her own diary, made up of fragments of the past and the present, a deeply personal work that slowly molds into something that concerns each and every one of us, just as intimately as it does her.

Video diaries have always been a rather “marginal” genre, a combination of words and images, walking the fine line between film and visual confessional, mostly assigned to the depths of experimental cinema - which doesn’t necessarily do its narrative powers justice.

And “Amnesia Diaries”- the cusp of Theodorakis’ rather idiosyncratic career – is living proof. Its experimental format is simply a means to an end, a way to document her journey from past to present, a deeply personal work that slowly molds into something that concerns each and every one of us, just as intimately as it does her.

How else do you explain the fact that her memories, her thoughts and her search for meaning could very well be your own? That her protagonists could very well be your parents, your friends and your lovers? That every incident, from the most riveting to the most trivial, could very well be a story out of your own journal? That there are times when you identify with this fanciful alternation of past and present so completely, that you feel like scribbling your own notes in the margins, adding your own images, your own memories and your own thoughts to the process?

And it’s all down to Stella Theodorakis’ mastery of the medium: the woman has composition and deconstruction down to an art!

Pulling images out of her past (mostly super 8 films, shot between 1985-1986) and combining them with footage from contemporary Athens (shot between 2010 and 2012), the filmmaker acts as a historian of her own life, as well as an entire era: the one that’s already been swallowed by history and the one that’s slipping though her fingers, between protests, violence and the growing vacancies of modern-day Athens. Each and every one of her past/present compositions is a direct contrast between the romantic past and the noisy, chaotic present.

Reminiscing and at the same time criticizing the past, Theodorakis is both the star and the innocent bystander, the girl she once was and the woman she now is. In turns pompous and playful, she tells the story of a woman who rediscovers her forgotten past while her present is falling to pieces. Both timelines are dominated by people: her long lost friends from the retro and rather innocent-looking 80s and her life-long companions that make life worth living in the clunky, ear-shattering 00s. The spaces in-between are filled with life, cinema, her mom always giving her dad en earful about his driving, sex, the lack of sex, a New Year’s cake recipe, tarot cards, astrological predictions, a cop across the street, a move, a French chanson and the random image of a woman bending over in the middle of the street to pick up something she dropped…

Seemingly haphazard images and sounds come together to populate the life of an angry, sad woman who’s trying to find the strength to carry on. And she does. It’s there in her old films and her new footage from the streets of the city. In everything her long lost friends have left behind and everything her life-long companions still bring to the table. It’s there in an image from Melbourne in the 80s, a trip to Tasmania, a New Year’s house party, the burned down movie theaters in downtown Athens in the February 2012 riots and a family vacation in Crete…

Although the effortless charm of the vintage segments always defeats the cheap social criticism of the present, this fascinating collage of images and emotions confirms that political cinema is not about making allegations, it’s about trying to make sense of it all.

by Manolis Kranakis/Flix