by Aria Socratous

“Son of Sofia”(O gios tis Sofias) written and directed by the Greek filmmaker Elina Psykou took home the top prize for the Best International Narrative Feature at 2017 Tribeca Film Festival Awards.

The Tribeca Film Festival has announced the winners of its 16th edition with “Keep the Change” (US Narrative), Son of Sofia (International Narrative) and Bobbi Jene (Documentary) taking home the best prizes. 97 features and 57 shorts comprised the main lineup of this year;s festival which began on April 19 and ends on April 30.

The jurors for the 2017 International Narrative Competition were Willem Dafoe, Peter Fonda, Tavi Gevinson, Alessandro Nivolaand Ruth Wilson.

“When we were watching these movies we were looking for something we hadn’t seen before. We unanimously agreed that one film challenged us to see in a new way and we were seduced by the surprising humanity of its difficult character.The direction was assured and its tone was unique and we look forward to seeing Elina Psykou’s next work. The Best International Narrative feature award goes to the Son of Sofia” jury commented.

«It was very surprising. I didn’t expect to take home the top prize. The competition was very hard, the movies so many and I already knew how difficult it is to take home a prize. When I heard that Son of Sofia was the winner for the International narrative I got off my seat. Willem Dafoe was on stage and he presented the awards for best Screenplay and Best Cinematography in an International Narrative Film, the Best Actor and the Best Actress and last but not least presented Son of Sofia with the International Narrative Feature award. The fact that Willem Dafoe presented the award makes it even more important! I’m very happy, touched and emotional at the moment. I haven’t still realized what happened! Tomorrow night I am flying back to Greece with the prize.”, Elina Psykou stated.

On Tuesday, April 25, 2016 the Greek Press Office hosted a conference for the creative team and actors of Son of Sofia. The press conference joined the filmmaker Elina Psykou, Giorgos Karnavas, producer, the Director of Photography Dionysis Efthimiopoulos, the New York City Greek Film Festival President, Jimmy DeMetro and Media Representatives from Greek and American Press

«In general terms I like setting my stories in a very concrete political and social background. I decided to set the story during the summer of the Olympic games because in my mind after that period it was the end of the innocent time in Greece. After this crucial point everything was different. That period was the peak of Greece but at the same time indicated the end of the glorious days. In the same way, for my protagonist the end of the film denotes the end of his childhood. At the same time I used the Olympic Games of Moscow in 1980, so there is a parallel path for Russia and Greece showing that is the end of progress for Greece and Russia. After the Olympic Games of Moscow in 1980, nine years later occurred the collapse of Soviet Union.”Psykou contends.

She named the film “Son of Sofia” because she wanted to include a name in the title of the film but not the name of the main protagonist because his identity becomes from the fact that he is the son of Sofia. He is not Misha, but the son of Sofia.

“I wanted to show that sometimes we have the best of feelings but we don’t know the right way to express them. Neither of the protagonists knows how to show their feelings and the result is a lack of communication. Misha feels embarrassed and he doesn’t know how to express his feelings.” she claims

George Karnavas stated that the film is a production of Greece, Bulgaria and France and that half of the movie is in Russian language.

“It’s very hard for film makers to live from their own films. Everything depends of the kind and the quality of the project. The audiovisual sector in Europe is one of the commercial sectors of the economy which are protected. The reason they do that is to protect the culture and the languages. You compete with a lot of creators every time. The story and the producer makes the difference. Countries like Greece are always in a good focus for funding”, Karnavas says.

Misha, the main protagonist is a student in a multicultural school in Greece. The creative team visited all the multicultural schools in order to find a child eligible for Misha’s role. It was his first experience with camera. His parents are immigrants from Ukraine. The actress who performs the role of Sofia, Misha’s mother lives in Munich in Germany but she was born in Russia and raised in Germany since she was eight.

In order to cope up with the lines in Russian language, the director took some private classes in Russian language for four months.

The biggest inspiration for Elina Psykou was to tell a story about childhood in a way it could be connected with her own childhood.

“We can see a picture of Greece in this movie but not in a way the audience expects to see because it’s not a nostalgic film. It’s a film about Greece of recession and financial crisis.” Psykou says.