BOY EATING THE BIRDS FOOD, written and directed by Ektoras Lygizos, is Greece’s OSCAR Entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Award.
A 22-year-old boy in Athens has no job, no money, no girlfriend and no food to eat, but he’s got a canary bird and a beautiful singing voice. When he finds himself without a home, he has to seek a shelter for his bird. And when the bird gets trapped inside the shelter, the boy has to find some help. He has to find someone with whom he can confess he has no job, no money, no girlfriend and no food to eat.
Ektoras Lygizos was born in Athens in 1976. He has directed for the stage plays by Samuel Beckett, Henrik Ibsen, Anton Checkov, Alfred Jarry, Guiseppe Verdi, Enda Walsh, Gary Owen and Haendl Klaus. His short film PURE YOUTH was premiered at Venice Film Festival 2004 – Official Competition (Corto Cortissimo).
Bijan Tehrani: What motivated you to adapt Knut Hamsun’ Hunger for Boy Eating the Bird’s Food?
Ektoras Lygizos: This very simple idea about a starving young man. It was just a very good base to make a film about human needs and about not being able to meet your primal needs. And what does that mean not only for the Boy of the film, but also for the idea of being a man and not (just) an animal.
BT: It is admirable that in hard economic area in Greece, such a fresh and daring language of filmmaking is used to make Boy Eating the Bird’s Food, how challenging it has been for you to make this film?
EL: I just felt that I need to tell this story, and I knew from the beginning that I had to keep it simple and easy-done, and don’t get lost in a bigger scale production. Of course, it was difficult and sometimes exhausting, but at the same time I felt a strong sense of freedom in nearly doing everything from writing the script, organizing the production and filming the story. I just had to follow the simplest solution and then I just felt so free.
BT: A few film critics claim that your film has a Bressonian social realism approach, do you agree with that?
EL: I had to admit that I studied and analyzed films by Bresson, during the whole process of making the film. His style makes sense to me, and I feel pretty comfortable using it or exploiting it, in my process to find and formulate my own style.
BT: Yannis Papadopoulos has an amazing performance in your film, how did you go about casting the film and how did you work with the actors?
EL: Actually, I wrote the film knowing that he would probably play the part. I didn’t know him in person, but I had seen him in a short film and in a way he was a part of my inspiration for making this film. During the rehearsals, we worked very hard trying to find all the little movements of the character, and then we had to be synchronized well together as I was the one holding the camera during the shooting.
BT: Please tell us about the writing stage of the film and how much it dictated the visual style of the film?
EL: For years I thought I had to spend years to write a script, and then this idea came to my mind. I kept notes for two months and spend other two to write it. It was like writing a poem. You know, I didn’t feel that I had to structure it in a way to make it compelling for producers or workshops. I just came out like that. Of course, I re-wrote it again and again, I made many cuts, but the story was there from the first draft, at least for me as a director.
BT: What do you thing about the chances of getting a nomination for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar or winning it?
EL: Honestly, I cannot even think about the chances. All I know is that it would be a very pleasant news.
BT: Any future projects you are working on?
EL: I’m just working on my regular job as a theatre director and actor. All my future projects are in theatre. And I prefer to keep this remote relationship with cinema. Once in a while that I’ll fall in love with something and it can be done only on film, then I make it. , I guess I’ll make some more films. I love it, but for me it’s just my favorite kind of poetry. I want to make cinema only as poet, and not as a professional visual narrator, at least for now.