By Elizabeth Maragoula
Directed by thirtysomethings Argyris Papadimitropoulos and Jan Vogel on a shoestring budget, the film “Wasted Youth”, although fictional, takes a documentary style in portraying a realistic picture of life today for Athenians.
Shot on one hot day in the streets of Athens, “Wasted Youth” explores the tension between its citizens by telling the story of one young carefree skateboarder and a stressed middle-aged public servant.
The film debuted on opening night of the International Film Festival Rotterdam in late January, and is due to open in Athens’ theatres Friday (March 18th).
Papadimitropoulos spoke to SETimes about his Greece — a modern-day country that has reached an impasse — and about the way its youth are portrayed.
SETimes: Can you elaborate on the name of your new film, “Wasted Youth”?
Argyris Papadimitropoulos: Actually it came from some stickers that a friend of ours in Germany [made] … his brand name, Wasted Youth. The message of Wasted Youth is not so much referred to today, because I think no youth is wasted. Youth is the only hope and youth is the coolest generation, let’s say, the coolest age to be.
SETimes: What do you want people to take away after watching this?
Papadimitropoulos: A better understanding of youth. It’s a film that doesn’t necessarily speak about the generation gap, but it speaks about the never-ending energy that adolescents have. It’s only the technology that changes. I didn’t have Facebook or a mobile phone or whatever [growing up], but the things that I was into and the things that I hated and what I loved and my fears and everything are exactly the same.
SETimes: What is your view of Greece today?
Papadimitropoulos: We’re in the middle of a crazy situation, but on the other hand there are so many things changing for the better, for the best. You have people who start changing things. You have many more people in Athens now using a bike, deciding if they want to park in the neighbourhood or not … calling the landlords and asking for a cheaper rent. They have to do it themselves.
As everything else is getting worse, people do the best [they can]. There are so many people, they don’t understand and they feel like they’re in a black hole and they’re stuck, which is also the picture of Greece right now: it feels stuck, bored, old and passive.
SETimes: What about Greek youth today?
Papadimitropoulos: Greek youth is really cool. They have a very international frame of mind. They have their eyes here but they have their eyes abroad too. They can have friends outside Greece, they meet people and they speak languages. They do stuff so they’re not really stuck in what the Greek-Greek, the traditional idea of the Greek is.
SETimes: Are the traditional ways of thinking gone, or are they being changed?
Papadimitropoulos: Yes. We used be people that were expecting loads of support from families … [but] nowadays families are not the same. The economic reality of the families is not the same as back then, so parents are not able to support their kids as much as they did.
SETimes: How do you feel as an entrepreneur in Greece?
Papadimitropoulos: Many people live under the breath of fear, so even if they do have their jobs and they do earn the same money as last year … they are afraid of spending and they’re afraid of providing themselves a good quality of life because all they hear about is the word “crisis”. Out of every four words on the TV, one of them is crisis.
SETimes: Is it really just psychological or are things serious?
Papadimitropoulos: Of course things are serious, but I’m talking about the psychological impact for the people that haven’t been yet touched, if I can say, by the crisis. I think that the media is trying to create a huge thing out of something that — it is big — but it’s not as big as they want to project.