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Athens (AFP) – American actress Emma Stone and Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos team up again for a silent and dark short film, shot in black and white on a windswept Greek island.
Addressing death and necrophilia and inspired by the rugged landscapes of the island of Tinos, “Bêlement” (“Bleat”) is the duo’s first collaboration since their 2019 Oscar nominations for “La Favourite.”
This new 30-minute short film, in which the French actor Damien Bonnard also plays, is screened on Friday in Athens as a world premiere. It was filmed in February 2020 atop the hills of Tinos, a large arid island northeast of Athens.
The goats figure prominently in it, but despite the title of the film, we don’t hear the slightest bleating, nor the slightest noise.
“There were a lot of goats… I find that they are fascinating animals” in “the way they live, move around, survive,” Yorgos Lanthimos told AFP.
“The landscape itself and the atmosphere there was the first inspiration,” he added, pointing out that for this film he wanted “silence”, only accompanied by orchestral music.
Dark, the short takes place mostly in a traditional Greek house and is entirely silent, which Emma Stone says she really enjoyed.
“It was a dream,” she said at a press conference on Thursday. “If I could work only in silence, it would be a delight”.
An experience also considered liberating by the director: “I generally think that restrictions can help create something. When you have too many means at your disposal, you can easily get lost”.
Emma Stone plays a young widow who organizes a wake for her late husband in a traditional Greek house. Unable to let go, she adopts an unorthodox method of mourning, in a film that mixes elderly matrons, nudity and sex.
Most of the people who appear in the film are locals from Tinos without any “professional experience” as actors.
“We went around the island, we met people and we cast them…non-professional actors can be really amazing,” observes Yorgos Lanthimos.
The film’s promoters did not reveal its budget but said that Emma Stone had not received any fees because of her friendship with the director.
She had starred for Lanthimos in the 18th-century dark comedy “The Favourite,” which earned them nominations for Best Supporting Actress and Best Director, respectively, at the 2019 Oscars.
“I feel very safe with him, he challenges me,” said the American actress. “What’s the point of continuing to do, no offense, this rather stupid job of acting, if you don’t continue to push yourself, grow and challenge yourself?”.
When reading it, Emma Stone found the script “so thrilling, unlike anything (she) had done before” and “immediately wanted to do it”.
“Is this the most artistic thing I’ve done? I guess so,” she concluded, laughing.
“Belement” will be screened at the National Opera of Greece from May 6 to 8, accompanied by live music, through works by Bach, Nystedt and Hosokawa performed live by the “Maria Callas” quartet and the ERT Choir, Hellenic Television Broadcasting.
48-year-old Yorgos Lanthimos has won acclaim for his absurd films that emerged from the “weird wave” that developed as Greece neared bankruptcy in 2010.
His film “Canine” was nominated for best foreign film at the 2011 Oscars, while his first English-language feature film “The Lobster” was nominated for best original screenplay at the 2017 Oscars.
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Emma Stone in a silent and dark new film from Greek director Lanthimos