A new romantic comedy called “Alex & Eve”, produced by a talented group of Greek-Australian filmmakers will be coming to New York and Los Angeles on October 13 for its US premiere.
“Alex & Eve” follows the story of a Greek Orthodox school teacher and a Lebanese Muslim lawyer who fall in love and face both serious and funny challenges in making their relationship work, especially in the face of serious doubts and opposition from their families and communities.
Watch the trailer:
We spoke to director Peter Andrikis, writer/actor Alex Lykos, and head of K Street Pictures Charles Agron to find out what inspired this story, how they think it will influence people, and what they think about the representation of Greek culture on TV.
How did the story of “Alex & Eve” start?
Alex Lykos, who originally debuted “Alex & Eve” as a stage play in 2006, got the idea from when he was briefly dating a girl from a Muslim background. “She was flying back to London shortly after I met her, so it didn’t continue, but I got this idea of ‘what would happen if we kept dating, how would my Greek parents react?'”.
Lykos describes going through a phase in his early 30s where he was wondering what direction he was heading towards, and if he would ever find a partner or have a family. “I realized there was a lot of literature about women going through that phase in their early 30s, but not a lot about men going through that phase in their life. So I had this idea of making a male version of ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’.”
What inspired you to sign up for this project?
Part of what attracted Peter Andrikidis to the film is that his mom is Irish-Australian, and his father is Greek. So when Andrikidis made “Alex & Eve”, he loved that the movie shows when the two families, Greek and Lebanese, “got to know each other, the walls get taken down”.
Charles Agron, the head of K Street Pictures who picked up “Alex & Eve” for distribution in North America, has been involved in the LA Greek Film Festival and met writer Alex Lykos there. When Charles saw the movie, he thought “this one really stood out and touched me – it makes you throw all your preconceived notions away and think ‘these are people, and they’re in love, let’s just throw away the barriers'”.
What was the casting process like for “Alex & Eve”?
“Alex & Eve” needed a great couple with comedic timing and chemistry, then making sure the families were believable. Director Andrikidis emphasized, “once we got Zoe Carides and Tony Nikolakopoulos, the Greek family definitely started coming together. Chemistry was of paramount importance to this movie, so once we got Andrea we kept testing actors with her and decided on Richard Brancatisano”.
There seems to be a lot of tension right now between Christian and Muslim communities. How do you think this will influence how people see this movie?
Alex Lykos had a lot to say about the political climate in which “Alex & Eve” is being released: “When we first put this on in 2006, it was a very different political landscape. But then there was a second wave of tension that has emerged so significantly along with the prominence of terrorism. So I don’t know if it’s more relevant now and therefore more poignant now…”
Director Andrikidis hopes the film can help erase peoples’ fear of the other, and show what a real Muslim family is like; an audience member told him, ‘You didn’t represent a true Muslim family’, and Andrikidis said “we did”. And there was a woman there from Dubai that replied to her, ‘that women (Andrea) is me’.”
What role do you think the media and entertainment can play in influencing real-life racial and cultural relations?
According to Andrikidis, media needs to do a better job of showing diversity to reflect the real-life diversity of countries like Australia and the US. “When you go to a hospital in this country [Australia], there are Indian doctors, there are Asian doctors, so really when you’re talking about increasing diversity on screen, it’s really just about representing reality.”
Alex: “I don’t for one second think that one 90-minute film can change someone’s worldview.” Alex makes it clear his primary goal is to tell a story and entertain an audience; it’s different of course “if you see a piece of work here, a piece of work there, and more and more over time, that could actually work”.
What do you think of the representation of Greek culture in media and how can we avoid portraying Greek as stereotypes?
Peter Andrikidis spoke about how seeing Greek culture represented in media can make Greek immigrants feel a great sense of belonging. “My grandfather saw a Greek policeman in a TV show in the 1980s and had this moment where he thought ‘I’m Australian!’, because he’s represented on screen.”
Alex Lykos discussed the challenge of portraying nationalities as truthful and yet not as stereotypes; “I think what you have to do, is find what are the nuances that are unique to each person and culture, that perhaps you don’t see at first sight”.
How do you think audiences react to films either partly or fully centered on Greek culture?
Peter says, “Truthfully, it represents almost all immigration, I think that’s the key. And you’re making fun of yourself too, which is something most groups love to do.”
Alex Lykos added “stories about family resonate so much; everyone can relate to family dysfunction, families being weird, and families imposing their will on their kids. The fundamentals are the same: your family wants one thing, and you want something else.”
Charles agrees that, “it’s such a sweet story, and it makes you feel so many emotions because it’s about finding this thing that everyone wants, love.”
“Alex & Eve” will premiere in LA and New York on October 13th, and will be available on several digital platforms as well as cable and DVD. See it soon!