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September

Dir: Penny Panayotopoulou. Greece-Germany. 2013. 105mins

A fragile film about loneliness and obsessive behaviour, the impressively mounted Greek film September is gently intriguing, driven onwards by rather mesmerising performances from lead actresses Kora Karvouni and Maria Skoula who a wonderfully watchable.

Director and co-writer Penny Panayotopoulou shows a rare sensitivity as dwells on the tender but distant relationship between the two women.

The film, which had its world premiere at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, is a delightfully sustained about a woman who in any other film may be simply labeled as a sad stalker, but here is treated with compassion and understanding by the other woman that she starts to observe and spend time with. To an extent there is no great depth of message lurking in the film – nor an explanation of what the title refers to – but the performances are impressive.

Taciturn thirtysomething Anna (the sadly lanky Kora Karvouni) lives alone in a small flat with her loving and playful dog Manu, who means everything to her. When her loyal pet dies suddenly her ordered and secluded life is torn apart, and slowly she starts to attach herself to happily married Sofia (Maria Skoula) and her family, mainly because Manu loved to play in their garden, and as a warm-hearted gesture Sofia agrees to let Manu be buried there.

Slowly Anna starts to insert herself into Sofia’s life, and while her husband object, she sees Anna’s behaviour as a reflection of losing the dog, even when it becomes clear that she is less than balanced. There is never any overt or wrenching drama – the film is almost as shy as Anna when it comes to expressing its feelings – but some of the beautifully shot and staged scenes are haunting.

Director and co-writer Penny Panayotopoulou shows a rare sensitivity as dwells on the tender but distant relationship between the two women, steering clear of traditional drama, having much take place off camera and fixing her vision on Anna’s repressed and barely stated loneliness. She even manages to come up with a happy ending which nicely concludes a gently watchable film.

The wonderful performances by Kora Karvouni and Maria Skoula, however, dominate the film, playing very different women but bonded by a well-meaning sense of compassion as this rather fragile relationship starts out with only the best of intentions, but gradually gets odder and odder.

Production companies: Penny Panayotopoulou Productions, Twenty Twenty Vision, ZDF

Contact: Penny Panayotopoulou Productions, ppanayotopoulou@gmail.com

Producers: Penny Panayotopoulou, Thanassis Karathanos

Screenplay: Kallia Papadaki, Penny Panayotopoulou

Cinematography: Giorgos Michelis

Editor: Petar Markovic

Production designer: Lili Kendaka

Music: Giorgos Zachariou

Main cast: Kora Karvouni, Maria Skoula, Nikos Diamantis

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