Discovery

Park

Sofia Exarchou

Park 01

Young love blossoms amongst a group of Athenian teenagers during a boisterous summertime idyll, in the raw, romantic and anarchic feature debut from Greek New Wave director Sofia Exarchou.

One of the most eagerly awaited films to come out of Greece in recent years, Sofia Exarchou's feature debut is a coming-of-age story that presents a summertime idyll from the perspective of Athenian youths. It allows us to see the fragility they try to conceal, and at the same time shows them to be unwaveringly resilient despite the socio-economic troubles that affect their destinies.

Gathering in the parched concrete wasteland of Athens' crumbling Olympic village, a group of teenagers engages daily in boisterous horseplay. The eldest of them, doe-eyed Anna (Dimitra Vlagkopoulou) and timid Dimitri (Dimitris Kitsos), begin courting and soon become a couple. Coming alive in each other's company, they explore the attractions of a seaside tourist resort with gleeful curiosity and juvenile excitement. Yet with the passing of time, their relationship goes from summery bliss to autumnal anguish, and the impact of the social body on the individual is keenly, painfully felt.

Exarchou's film communicates all of this with limited dialogue. She relies instead on the performance of her non-professional actors and the slipstream flow of the camera to convey the delicate details that define the characters. Offering a fresh, raw burst of unmediated authenticity, Park brings to mind the romantic punk anarchism of Larry Clark and his documentary-like approach to studying teenagers at the cusp of puberty and on society's outskirts. In this film, gestures speak louder than words as movement and performance become tools for signifying the physical passage into adulthood. Exarchou's impressive debut raises a jubilant fist in the air, defying fatalism and calling for the endurance of the individual in the face of Greece's uncertain future.

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