Sure, we’ve all seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but come next year you will be able to see a twist on the Greek-girl-gets-married theme by Cypriot-South African film director Stelana Kliris in her debut film Committed. Filmed in English with the landscape of Cyprus and Greece, Committed tells the story of a run-away bride who is literally picked up on the side of the highway by another ex-pat who is on holiday but who is also pressured to propose to his girlfriend. Together they set on a journey to find themselves in a critical crossroads, literal and metaphorical, of their lives. It is a film that explores identity and charting your own course by pitting the individual’s needs and desires against the expectations of one’s family and culture.
We had a chance to talk with the director about her own story and the story she tries to tell on film.
Who are you?
I am a South African Cypriot writer / director with a background in editing and production on international film and commercial productions in Greece and Cyprus. I am inspired by stories with heart and humanity and I’m in the fortunate position of being able to draw from two different backgrounds having grown up in a Greek-Cypriot home in South Africa. I think that these are two very unique countries with similar issues regarding division and co-existence; I feel equally attached to both and I think my exposure to these two cultures have enriched me as a person and a filmmaker.
I have written and directed two short documentaries and two short films to date.
“Committed” is my first feature film.
What prompted you to make the film? What is the film about?
I am at an age where everyone around me is getting engaged or getting married and I started to question the concept of committing to one person for the rest of your life. I was also having a lot of discussions with men and women about love and relationships. So I thought it would be great to explore this theme through two dynamic characters.
I made a movie about a man who is being pressured to propose to his girlfriend and a woman who has just run out on her wedding. He finds her by chance on the side of the road, picks her up and a bizarre road trip follows where they hash out their conflicting feelings about love and commitment. There is a big twist at the end, but you’ll have to see the movie for that!
I also just wanted to make a fun, feel-good movie that I’d go to the cinema to see with my friends. I miss fun comedies and I feel like female audiences aren’t being catered to enough.
On that note, I’m really hoping that women and the Diaspora are going to rally for this film. This is our audience and it’s only through their support that the film will get out there!
How does the film connect to Greek diaspora audiences? Specifically, how does this film treat the Greek bride motif in comparison to My Big Fat Greek wedding which was the hallmark independent film about a Greek diaspora bride in the US and also a big hit?
This film is a little different as it brings the Diaspora home, because it actually takes place in Cyprus. The male character, George, is from Cyprus but has studied in London and the bride is a member of the Greek Diaspora from America. So they speak in English to one another.
While the theme of the film is a lot more universal and doesn’t deal with the topic of the Diaspora, it represents people of the Diaspora who have moved back and forth between Greece/Cyprus and their adopted homes. So the connection to Greek Diaspora audiences lies in the fact that it’s a film made in Cyprus by someone from the Diaspora, so it’s a very new perspective, but one they’ll relate to.
Regarding the bride motif, we basically show the other side of the coin of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” in that our bride has seemingly abandoned the concept of marriage and run away from her fiancé and family. She’s filled with doubt and questions everything about her situation. In a way, both films have a very similar theme about finding yourself, they’re just done in very different styles.
Where can audiences expect to get a sneak peak?
“Committed” will be complete by the end of the year and we hope to start our festival run early next year. We don’t have a set screening schedule yet as it all depends on which festivals we get to. From there, the aim is to get distribution so audiences will have access to the film.
If you are interested in finding out a bit more, check out the Facebook page or the trailer: