Moon, 66 Questions – a greek family drama at Berlinale Encounters (review)

Moon, 66 Questions – a greek family drama at Berlinale Encounters (review)

When a grave illness strikes down her father Paris, Artemis decides to return home after an absence of some years. Being the sole child of divorced parents, she is the only one who can look after her dad, who requires daily care. Father and daughter embark on a journey into knowledge and revelation, which heralds a new beginning for their relationship.
Moon, 66 Questions is the feature debut of Jacqueline Lentzou. It initially defines itself as “a film about flow, movement and love (and lack of them)”. “We never talk, never did” says Artemis to the stranger on the plane, after she mentions why she is travelling back to her hometown, referring to her father.

The film succeeds a great deal of Greek films in the last decade that follow dysfunctional family ties. Although don’t expect another Dogtooth: this film cannot be labeled with the “Greek weird wave” label, as it is more of an intimate family drama, and it’s a good one of those. The backbone of the film is Artemis and Paris. We follow them, from a completely alienated dysfunctional relationship they have at the beginning, to a trip into the families well-kept secrets that made Paris silent all his life. And from there to an affectionate father-daughter relationship that took years and a serious illness to reach its high point. On the background we see the broader family, aunts, uncles and other relatives, that don’t help Artemis with her father, but always their opinion on how things should be done, contributing racist comments on the hiring interviews for in-house nurses.

Sofia Kokkali is the star of the film, offering one of the strongest performances in 2021 Berlinale we have seen. It’s not actually a surprise, as we have seen her in lots of films lately, “Pari“, “Digger” on last year’s Berlinale Panorama, “Interruption” that premiered in Venice among them. But her role in “Moon” puts her for the first time in the spotlight, as she carries the film on her own, as Artemis character is not a talker, and his condition is also not helping towards this direction. Her exceptional performance is supported by a mature and robust screenplay, that we rarely experience for a debut feature. Lentzou with “Moon”, handles delicate but also crucial social issues, criticizing age-old norms and traditions.  In addition the technical part of the film is also worth mentioning, as the photography of the modern area characters is combined with old-camera footage from Artemis’ childhood, with voice over often building up the background on the dynamics in the family.

Moon, 66 Questions premiered at the Encounters Section of the 2021 Berlinale.

Grade: 4/5

by Jacqueline Lentzou
with Sofia Kokkali, Lazaros Georgakopoulos
Country: Greece / France Year: 2021
Runtime: 108’

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