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In a surreal, parallel universe, Thessaloniki has its very own superhero: Super Demetrios. Posing as Dimitris Christoforidis, journalist for the Golden Jerusalem magazine, he fights for truth, justice and the Greco-Christian ideal. In the dark of the night, the city's worst nightmare returns. Captain F.ROM is back, determined to meet his long-awaited goal: claiming his true name. A name he's entitled to. A name that becomes him. The two protagonists are drawn into a conflict that toys with the viewer's patience until the very climax of the film, in an archetypal battle between good and evil. Written by
I saw the film the night it opened, at the 52nd Thessaloniki International Film Festival. The movie is an independent, practically zero-budget production: the labor of love of a group of friends who, in their own words, have a great passion for the art of filmmaking.
The film comes out at a time when the country's much-publicized political affairs have left its citizens feeling bitter, jaded and in a state of perpetual hopelessness. The fact that festival attendance has been so great this year can only mean one thing: the people are in desperate need of entertainment, of the kind of solace that can only be found in the warm, escapist experience of watching a good film.
How fitting then, that in this year's festival, Thessaloniki enters a particularly elite club: that of a veritable metropolis with its very own superhero. Meet Super Demetrios, named after the patron saint of Thessaloniki. Humble, righteous and powerful, he fights for: "[...] Truth, justice and the Greco-Christian ideal."
The film's plot revolves around the most recent strike of one Captain F.ROM, the hero's archenemy. Tired of being scorned and enraged by the people's refusal to recognize him by what he feels is his true name, he decides to retaliate and it's up to Super Demetrios to save the day. The movie is a humorous, oftentimes exaggerated (as parodies tend to be), yet very astute critique on practically everything, from past and recent political scandals, to the economy crisis, the culture of fear propagated by the media, religion, and even the city's obsession with fast food.
Though the film's main appeal lies within the satire of the Hellenic cultural norms, the movie can still entertain foreigners who are not familiar with the modern way of life in Greece and Thessaloniki. Any viewer who has ever seen a superhero movie will surely derive much amusement from the complete and utter deconstruction of the genre's clichés.
The movie's two screenings were both sold-out, something truly remarkable, considering the fact that films by other, far more accomplished directors weren't as successful. I'm not quite certain what, if anything, this means. Does it prove that film-goers are thirsty for comedies in these dark, uncertain times?
Some may argue that I'm over-thinking what was, after all, a film that doesn't take itself too seriously. Even so, leaving the movie theater that night, I asked myself just what it is that makes a superhero so appealing to the public. Is it the fact that heroes become the personification of justice? Is it the quick, almost magical solution they tend to provide to seemingly insurmountable obstacles?
Whatever it is, my personal opinion is that what truly makes a hero, is the ability to inspire people. Taking that into account, I can't help but wonder who the true hero of the film was. Was it Super Demetrios, or the small group of independent filmmakers who proved that a lack of funding is not anathema to artistic vision?
I'll let you decide.
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