Through the lens of its central relationship between Danny (Thanassis Petropoulos) and Stella (Iro Bezou), eccentric Greek rom-com Kissing? offers an unconventional take on modern life and love. Presenting an out-of-chronology series of encounters and conversations between its perpetually analytical and ennui-ridden young men and women, writer-director Yannis Korres observes the changing nature of human connections in our pop culture-infused era.
Speaking to FilmDoo, Korres offers some context on his directorial debut.
What were your intentions when you first came into this film?
What I always had in mind, mostly while writing the film, was my generation’s confusion on relationships. Keep in mind that Kissing? is a film about people in their 30s, people who are mostly unemployed and unable to look at the future in any optimistic way. At the same time, they are part of a generation that’s all about itself, in many ways a selfie generation, since the ways we communicate or even fall in love have changed vastly in the last few years. And finally we’re talking about a generation that’s relatively fresh and hasn’t left its mark on the world so it’s yet to be properly defined. That seemed like a great subject to explore.
Did you draw from any personal experience?
I did when I was writing the film. But since we started to rehearse (and we rehearsed for almost four months) I decided to open it up as much as I could. So what you see is only partly drawn from personal experience. A big part of the finished film is based on conversations we had and experiences we shared with the actors and improvisation.
Was there a lot of improvisation involved?
There was. During rehearsal we did some improvisation in almost every scene. Either using the script as it was but changing the approach or the condition of the characters or straying from the script and trying to dig deeper into the characters. At the finished film, the scenes with Achilles that tie everything together are a product of a well rehearsed and tightly constructed improvisation, but most of the rest of the scenes have some impo elements in them. That was not my initial intention but the more I worked with all these amazing actors, the more I understood that they had plenty to offer.
Are the film’s more abstract passages of dialogue inspired by any recent changes or cultural elements in Greek society? Or would your say that these are more universal concerns that the film is discussing?
These conversations came up during some improvisations we did when rehearsing. I think the themes they talk about are obviously important but what we worked on in rehearsal and later in the editing was the dynamics between the characters and the way they react and interact with each other during this long scene. In other words, it’s not so much about the actual text but about the way the characters are gradually revealed and explored through it.
Elements of Kissing? remind me of the films of the French New Wave from directors like Godard and Truffaut. Is this a period of cinema that influences your work?
That’s true. Godard, Truffaut and most of the Nouvelle Vague directors are a great influence on me. While I didn’t use anything specific from these films (at least knowingly) there’s a sense of freedom these directors brought to the game that I always try to keep in mind. That being said, people like Albert Brooks, Hal Hartley and Howard Hawks were also big influences on the film.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on my second feature film by the title Girl Without Clothes. It’s a drama about the end of youth and the theme of loss. It was part of last year’s Crossroads Co-Production Forum of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival and we are currently waiting to be evaluated for funding by the two national funding platforms in Greece (Greek Film Center and ERT) in order to get things going.