A murder and a loner with visual pleasures in between. What makes certain films distinctively charming? In “The Waiter"'s case it is an alluring mixture of an original protagonist, masterfully performed (by Aris Servetalis) and served by the film maker’s stylistic choices. Renos, the main character in Steve Krikris’ film is a waiter, maybe the metempsychosis of a devoted butler. Silent and detached, he meticulously serves customers, keeping his well ordered daily routine. Krikris puts together a captivating character study, leading the viewer to wonder what this enigmatic character thinks and feels and how he will react to an unexpected series of events.
Film Director, Scriptwriter and Producer Steve Krikris studied Film making at the San Francisco Art Institute S.F.A.I. He has worked in New York, in film production, mainly on TV commercials. He lives in Athens, working as a freelance Director and Producer. He has directed over 500 TV commercials. He has also directed a short film titled “Await", screened at Tangiers Film Festival, Drama Film Festival & Istanbul Film Festival and a short film titled "The Card Game" that won the second best film award at the 1st 48-hour Film Project in Athens. He directed a theatrical play titled “Petalouda se pigadi” written by Vaggelis Hatziyianidis and he was the Artistic Director & Co-Founder of the International Film Festival of Patmos which doesn't exist anymore.
"The Waiter" (2018), his debut feature film, was awarded the Greek Film Centre’s Best Greek Debut Feature Director Award as well as the Best Location Award for the film’s location manager, Dimitris Chalkiadakis, at the 59th Thessaloniki International Film Festival. “The Waiter” will also be screened at the 69th Berlinale EFM and at the competition section of the 23rd Sofia International Film Festival. Interviewed by Greek News Agenda* Steve Krikris goes into detail on how he created an Athenian heterotopia, which actively participates in the film plot.
Aris Servetalis, 'The Waiter" (2018)
You have worked with Yorgos Lanthimos. Have you been influenced by the Weird Wave?
I met Yiorgos Lanthimos during his first steps in the business. He had a distinct style even when he was making video clips and TV commercials. He gave me a small role in his first film, “Kineta”, which was like an experiment that I really enjoyed. Then I got another small role in “Dogtooth’, which was made at that time with huge effort by a small group of Yiorgo’s friends and colleagues. Despite his difficulties, this film led him onto the bright career he has now.
A few years back – and while Yiorgos Lanthimos was making these films- the growing number of independent, strangeand eccentric new Greek films being made had led trend-spotters to herald the arrival of a new Greek wave, which some have called the «Greek Weird wave».
I don’t really think my film «The Waiter» falls into this category. It’s a genre film based and inspired by a true story, key elements that are not part of the “new Greek weird wave”.
Yannis Stankoglou, Steve Krikris and Aris Servetalis on the set of "The Waiter" (2018). Photo by Matgarita Nikitaki.
How has your experience in advertising influenced your work as a filmmaker?
Directing TV commercials for more than 25 years has been great training ground for me. You learn how to master the craft, all the technical aspects of filmmaking, dealing with time restrictions, being communicative and having the chance to experiment with different styles of telling small stories and getting paid well.
"The Waiter" (2018)
The hypnotically beautiful photography of the film is infused in dark green hues, while retro Athenian architecture has its own special part in your film. Could you elaborate on your stylistic choices?
Finishing the script, I worked on the visualization of the film very meticulously. I found images, films that I related to, paintings, photos of locations that helped me bring to life the descriptions in script and also enabled me to share all this material with my colleagues in order to have a common “language” while making the film. Our aim was to film Athens in a way not easily recognizable, to create a micro world. We wanted to give a retro look to the interiors and the color palette of the film was carefully chosen so as to enhance the neo noir style of the film.
Aris Servetalis, "The Waiter" (2018)
Your film is a “neo noir enigma”, a study of a character coming across extreme situations. Emotional detachment characterizes your protagonist, but he is still capable of self sacrifice. What does he stand for?
The main character, Renos, is a fictional character. Working with Aris Servetalis was a wonderful and challenging collaboration. Renos is a low key character with a specific routine in life. He is confronted with an extreme situation, concerning a murder and a love affair. His hidden moral side prevails at the end. I wanted to create a character without a specific agenda, who is unique in his own way, and unpredictable like life is.
"The Waiter" (2018)
You were also the co-founder and artistic director of Patmos International Film Festival. Would you like to say a few things about it?
Patmos is a very special place for me. It is the place of my origin, where I have been spending my summers since I was a child. In 2010 we decided with a group of people to start a film festival, actually an international film festival, during the month of July- IFFP. I was very enthusiastic about being able to offer something to the island and its inhabitants, who are totally cut off from any exposure to cinema. On the other hand create a new venue for filmmakers, cinephiles and filmgoers to come to Patmos and be able to attend a «hand made» Film Festival while enjoying their holidays. Every summer, Patmos attracts numerous filmmakers, artists, musicians, writers, from around the world who embraced it. It was a great experience while it lasted.
Chiara Gensini and Yannis Stankoglou, "The Waiter" (2018)
You move between Greece and the US. How is your experience as a film maker in these two countries?
I lived in the U.S. for 11 years. I studied Filmmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute and I began my first professional steps in New York. Coming here in Greece in the early ‘90s, without really knowing whether I wanted to stay and work here, I found quite a fertile ground and started directing TV commercials. During those first years I went back and forth between Greece and the US, but later on, life made a choice for me. I feel working in Greece there is more freedom in a sense, working in the U.S there is a well structured system with a great deal of opportunities that doesn’t always allow you to be free. There are pros and cons in any choice you have to make. Right now I’m happy I finished my first feature film and looking forwards to the next one.
* Interview by Florentia Kiortsi
** The film was projected in the 59th Thessaloniki International Film Festival and was available in the international film viewing professional platform Festival Scope, a TIFF initiative for the promotion of Greek cinema abroad.