Sarajevo Film Festival 2017. Review of “Copa-Loca” by Christos Massalas

With his fifth short film, “Copa-Loca”, young Greek helmer Christos Massalas has embarked on a festival circuit run that started in the Directors’ Fortnight at this year’s Cannes Film Festival before screening in Competition at Curtas Vila do Conde, the Guanajuato International Film Festival and now, the Sarajevo Film Festival.

The summer in Copa Loca is wild. Copa Loca is an open paradise for everyone. Tourists arrive by thousands. They run, they dive, they slide, they take positions under the sun and wait to catch fire… In the winter, the few remaining residents of Copa Loca recall past summers and feverishly prepare for the summer to come. Paulina is the girl at the heart of Copa Loca. Everyone knows her and everyone cares for her and she cares about everyone – in every possible way. No-one is left out.

There seems to be a trend in the “Greek New Wave Cinema” to cinematically portray abandoned venues in Greece, for Copa Loca is actually an abandoned Greek summer resort… (think of Sofia Exarchou’s award-wining debut “Park”). “Copa-Loca” is therefore a surreal, amusing, and melancholic portrait of a meandering world in an abandoned amusement park. And, the summers in Copa Loca are a thing of the past. “Copa-Loca” does not speak directly of the Greek crisis, but the latter is implied, evoked through the abandoned Copa Loca amusement park, thus identifying a place-symbol and recreating a mad and chimerical microcosm; one with a single inhabitant, the aforementioned Paulina, (an excellent Elsa Lekakou), a quirky and lost girl trapped under and between the toboggans who has sex with everyone who finds her. She eats bananas and occasionally takes refuge in one of the many deserted villages, like for instance a house in the ultra-kitsch shape of a boat. All the while, her mother waits around, trying to convince her to come back home…

With skillful directing and imaginative writing, Christos Massalas has managed to artificially recreate an exotic world according to the typically post-modernist idea of the non-site, between bamboo canes and South Amercian colors, highlighting the choice of a such a surreal yet realistic setting and commenting on this drifting world with Caribbean music, courtesy of Stella, and using a very specific visual style, shot in a square 1:1 aspect ratio and a lensing boasting a summery palette by d.o.p Konstantinos Koukoulios. Moreover, what completes “Copa-Loca” and gives it a special touch is the use of the voiceover, ironic and oracular, narrating the story with a grotesquely nihilistic philosophical approach, mirroring that way Massalas’ heroine Paulina, capable of going from men to men, and full of apparently frivolous dilemmas: “One cocktail or the other?” or “Would you rather have four or six fingers if you had an anomaly?” Or even: “At the time of dying, would you prefer to dance the Lambada or the Macarena?” Furthermore, there is an impending sense of doom that lurks throughout the film, merging with folly and sybaritism. That is precisely how Massalas looks at the Greek crisis: as an entire country turned into a leisure park for tourists and then abandoned…

With the imaginative, soulful and brilliant “Copa-Loca” Christos Massalas carves his place within the Greek New Wave and claims his rightful place among the young celebrated and talented voices of Greek Cinema today.





Production: Heretic Outreach, Lola39 Films (Greece 2017)

Producer: Christos Massalas

Co-producers: Giorgos Karnavas, Konstantinos Kontovrakis

Associate producer: Giannis Sotiropoulos

Director: Christos Massalas

Screenplay: Christos Massalas

Cinematography: Konstantinos Koukoulios

Music: Stella Chronopoulou

Costume design: Marli Aliferi

Editing: Christos Massalas

Cast: Elsa Lekakou, Jenny Hiloudaki, Pavlos Iordanopoulos, Nadia Katsoura, Strathis Stamoulakatos, Talat Iqbal, Fotis Stratigos, Michalis Pitidis, Panos Iosifidis

 Color – 14 min.

Premiere: 26/05/2017 (Directors’ Fortnight – Cannes Film Festival)

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