When Melbourne film director, Anna Kannava returned to Paris in 2002 after a long absence, she knew where her next film would be set.
Kannava may not have the profile of other Greek-Australian directors such as Ana Kokkinos or Alkinos Tsilimidos, but she has slowly and carefully built up a body of work over the past 25 years that is beautiful, inventive and delicately moving.
Visually, the film is stunning. The shots of the Paris rooftops, the boulevards, cafe life and the Metro will be familiar to travellers, but Kannava’s frames are not tired. That is likely due to her innate sense of place.
After leaving Cyprus at the age of 15 and moving to Australia, she knows what it is like to be cut adrift from her roots.
Kissing Paris premiered at the Brisbane International Film Festival last year.
Claire, played by Natalie Vella, is tired of her life. There is a lack of magic in her relationship with boyfriend Andrew, so Claire leaves Melbourne to find that missing spark in Paris. “She takes along love letters written to her mother by a mysterious lover when they too were in Paris in the 1960s.”
From early experimental shorts to light comedy Vanilla Essence, to colourful family portraits Ten Years After … Ten Years Older and The Butler, to her first feature film in 2004, Dreams for Life Kannava’s films have always been deceptively artful. Greek themes have never been far from the surface in her work, but Kissing Paris veers off towards other cultures and different spaces.
Of course, Paris is the known symbol of romance and the film is charged with this, both embracing the magic of this romance and providing a critique of it. As the love letters, written by her mother’s lover, play out on the soundtrack, Claire aborts her way through various connections with men.
The film juxtaposes the intensity of passionate love with ordinary relating and sensibly leaves the questions hanging. Kannava is a cultural adventurer and an intellectual investigator. She is able to mix cultures, situations and feelings within the one context, in the process creating interesting connections between things and people.
A small, low-budget production, it was shot on the streets and Metro of Paris very quickly, mainly by Kannava and her actress. The film has an immediacy, freshness and documentary flavour to it that is wonderful. Editor of the film, Natalya Beloborodova has taken the raw footage and created jazzy montages producing a satisfying film overall.
Kissing Paris screens at ACMI, Federation Square, on Saturday, July 11 at 4:00 p.m.