“Xenia” is a 2014 Greek/Belgian/French production. In Greek Xenia means hospitality towards guests and foreigners and is derived from Xenos meaning foreigner. Given that the main characters in the film Ody (Nikos Gelia) and Dany (Kostas Nikouli) are half Greek and Albanian and that Dany is gay in the Greece of 2014 there is not much Greek hospitality shown to them. In fact there are scenes of immigrants in Athens being taunted and beaten by the far right epitomized by the rise of the xenophobic New Dawn Party. Those were rough economic times for Greece under the thumbs of German and French creditors.
Dany joins Ody in Athens with news that their mother has died in Crete. They decide to find their father in Thessaloniki. He had abandoned them when Dany was two. Dany is turning 16 and Ody 18. Dany dresses urban confused gay, sucks lollipops and has a pet rabbit Dido. He acts cool urban gay but he is but a child lost in a fantasy world. Ody is on the verge of deportation to Albania. Ody and Dany believe that their long-lost father can be a key to obtaining Greek citizenship and that they can have a share of his rumoured wealth.
Off they go on an epic journey from Athens to Thessaloniki and despite a quasi “Dog Day Afternoon” hostage taking incident the viewer is left hanging if indeed they found their father.
But what they find is each other a la “Odd Couple”. Ody also auditions for the “Greek Star” talent show reflecting the Americanization of Greece.
A journey of the immatures. The stuffed animal rabbit scenes only highlight the immaturity of Dany which is regulated by a slightly more mature Ody. This is an overly long film which veers toward losing the viewer with a long scene in the woods and in an abandoned hotel “Xenia” but it snaps back into place when the bothers reach Thessaloniki. I know very well the location where the Greek Star auditions were filmed in Thessaloniki.
Winner of 6 Hellenic Film Academy Awards including Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor.
Directed by Panos Koutras.
Streaming May 6-15 as part of Greek Films on Demand from Hellenic Film Society USA. For more information www.helenicfilmsusa.org
You can watch the trailer here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yPiz6rJICk
RKS Film Rating 84/100.