The Montreal Greek Film festival is well under way at the Parc Cinema with an interesting variety of award winning films. Plato's Academy is a poignant dramedy about social relevance, social identity and cross cultural nationality. This film won the Orpheus Award for Best Feature Film at the summer 2010 Los Angeles Greek Film Festival. Director and screenwriter Filippos Tsitos takes us on a journey that becomes a universal social commentary about how we define ourselves.
Main character Stavros (Antonis Kafetzopoulos) resides in a neighborhood square in Athens where business is slow while he takes care of his ailing mother. He spends much of his time drinking coffee and hanging out with a group of his kiosk friends commenting on the commercial activity taking place at his street run tobacco store. He also suffers from insomnia and leans on his ex-girlfriend Dina (Maria Zorba) for emotional support and hopes to win her back. Life seems to be mundane and routine for him until one day an Albanian man turns up and claims to be his long lost brother.
Although the movie is slow paced and does feel a bit long at times, it seems to be the director's intent to deconstruct his characters. Tsitos prompts us to ask ourselves what determines the identity of a person- nationality, culture, language. In the case of Stavros is his identity attached to the music he listens to, the football team he supports, his close relatives, or his questionable Albanian brother?
This movie satirically questions the values in life and how important it is to have a purpose despite your circumstances. As the film's title suggests, Plato's Academy is reminiscent of Plato's school of philosophy (an institution of higher learning) in ancient Athens. In many ways Stavros (protagonist) becomes a pupil himself in his neighborhood school of life by discovering that his identity crisis goes beyond intercultural tolerance and nationality.