Konstantina Kotzamani

by Eleni Solomou

Though One Could Argue That Anything That Has To Do With The Heart Is Just A Game
“The giraffe is the animal with the biggest heart. The distance between its head and its heart is three meters and the heart is big enough to send the blood all the way up. When the giraffe is lying down, its heartbeat reaches the ground. It goes underground and all the animals are tuned to the heartbeat of the giraffe,” says the narrator in glottal French, with a thick colonial accent. “In the heart of the summer, in the midst of the tropical heat, the giraffe’s heart is no longer heard and the animals are thrown into confusion as they search for this beat. It is then that the most bizarre things happen,” he notes. Konstantina Kotzamani’s latest film, Washingtonia, takes you from the African tropics to the Athenian melancholy, via an allegoric tale of how the city’s palm trees are losing their hearts.

“Athènes, du climat tropical. 3,189 palmiers. 2,909 palmiers malades.”

But this is not just a story about a red beetle that kills a palm tree, it is
a visual elegy to identity, connection, and loss. It’s an affirmation that there is
a fresh generation of artists eavesdropping on the changing world around them. It’s a nomination for the prestigious Golden Bear Award at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival.

“At first it was only the palm trees. There was no story. Just the vision of an exotic Athens where palm trees were dominant,” says Konstantina who grew up in Komotini, a city in Northern Greece, near Turkey, surrounded by the mixed scenery of eastern, Balkan, and Greek images. “I dreamed of the giraffe,” she continues, “this strange animal trying to enter my house in my dream through the window and somehow it started. I found out about her big, big heart and the inspiration puzzle started to gain a structure. I instinctively felt that the core of the film is love and heart, big or small. After that, I came up with the myth of the giraffe and I started thinking about my Washingtonia characters who suffer from their non-love-heart syndrome—like the palm trees who are dying from their half-eaten hearts.”

You seem to be drawn to animal myths quite a lot when you are creating. I get connected with each of my films through an animal. The first one, Pigs, is about maturation, to let the wolf come in. The second one, Zodiac, [is] about genders coming out and a snake’s transformations. The third, Arundel, is a film about freedom and
a dog’s second life. Then Morning Prayers [is] about purification, the colors of a jellyfish.

What did you want to grow up to be when you were a kid? Of course I wanted to heal the world, to be a doctor.

So why are you a director? Because then I changed my mind...

What do you dream about doing in the future? Making films and eating pasta.

What do you do to have fun? I call strangers.

What are your friends like? They are pasta lovers.


Photographer: Yiorgos Mavropoulos at yiorgosmavropoulos.com. Stylist: Sofia Tsakiri. Hair & Makeup: Sissi Petropoulou at sissisite.com. Location: The National Garden, Athens, Greece.

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