“Amerika Square”, the festival hit from director Yannis Sakaridis, has been selected to represent Greece in the Foreign Language Film category at the 2018 Academy Awards.
The film focuses on three parallel and intertwined stories in the Amerika Square neighborhood of Athens, and explores the shifts, changes, and effects that immigration causes.
“Hollywood Reporter” critic Deborah Young was one of many foreign critics impressed by the film, as she named it “one of the best European films to date on the subject of immigration in all its painful implications.”
The movie features Yannis Stankoglou as a tattoo artist named Billy, Makis Papadimitriou as his unemployed friend Nakos, Vassilis Koukalani as Syrian refugee Tarek, and Ksenia Dania as an immigrant singer trying to get out of Athens. Billy and Nakos, though they are friends, show diametrically opposite attitudes to immigrants throughout the film, as Billy believes in welcoming those seeking refuge and a better life while Nakos projects his own sense of failure into anger at the incoming immigrant wave.
“Amerika Square” has already made a big splash in Hollywood, winning best feature film at the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival. Though Greek films have been nominated five times at previous Academy Awards (most recently in 2010 with Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Dogtooth”), none have yet won the coveted Best Foreign Language Film award.
Though “Amerika Square”, which is Yannis Sakaridis’ second feature, still has a long way to go to secure a nomination among all the other competing foreign films, it is encouraging that the film’s powerful message has already resonated with audiences and critics abroad.