Dead Oscar

Alvin's Harmonious World of Opposites

It’s not every day that you win a ‘Dead Oscar’.

And it is not every day that you get to give a victory speech accepting such an accolade.

Director Platon Theodoris’ debut feature film, Alvin’s Harmonious World of Opposites, was recently voted for the Directors Choice Award at the Sydney Underground Film Festival.

The award is essentially an Oscar that is placed in a coffin style box.

Not bad for a guy who previously won two MTV Music Video Awards over a decade ago, making him one of the most in demand video directors going around.

That demand has even taken him to the Block in Redfern, directing an Anthony Mundine video which caused a storm on conservative talk-back radio for taking an anti-John Howard stance.

Taking it all in his stride, Platon recently took time out to speak with Neos Kosmos about his film and the career which has taken him around the world.

One of his career highlights was being flown into Greece as an in-demand director for commercials and video clips, before the economic crisis brought that status to a halt.

What most people won’t know about this humble, down-to-earth director is that he transitioned to long-form in 2006 and his three subsequent shorts – Para-Soul, Sunrise and Lakemba – screened at various local and international film festivals, opening the door to create the film Alvin’s Harmonious World of Opposites.

This labour of love took more than two years to complete and was shot on location in Indonesia as well as Australia. Some of the cinematography from Indonesia is truly stunning.

As Platon explained, “I have studied in Indonesia and speak it fluently, probably even better than my Greek!”.

The film is also partly financed from backers in Indonesia, hence the strong connection to that country.

“The film is reminiscent of other quirky gems that you get to watch once in a blue moon; think The Wizard of Oz and Being John Malkovich,” Platon enthused.

These classics offer a unique blend of challenging the viewer to think about the world and the confines that they live in.

Alvin offers us a similar style of challenge that will make you think for days afterward.

The added bonus is that Alvin has an element of humour that will make the audience laugh and smile as they climb on board his journey.

Over a cup of tea, Platon introduces me to a lifelong Greek friend and a star from the film, Tina Andrews.

She plays the real estate agent Despina, whose potential inspection of the apartment threatens to wreak havoc in the perfect world of Alvin.

Her charm and straightforwardness gave me an instant impression that she is made for film.

Her performance will prompt the question, “why hasn’t she been in film prior to Alvin?”

Quite simply, Platon had never asked!

Alvin is a man who essentially lives within the confines of his apartment, maintaining a reality that exists online and through a peephole as he spies on a girl living below him.

Any attempt to change that ‘reality’ will have an adverse effect on him.

I asked Tina and Platon if they would live next door to Alvin.

Tina would consider it, whilst Platon told me that he would.

“He is an introvert and he would respect your privacy … but I wouldn’t live next door to Virginia,” a character who proves to be mean-spirited and something of a bully, who lives next to Alvin.

Her role is somewhat opposite to that of a peaceful, almost Buddhist-like Alvin, who simply likes to surround himself with dozens of pandas.

Platon made the point that the film and the character of Alvin provides the viewer with “a journey through your own headspace”.

He is a man who suffers from anxiety and something that Platon himself has had to deal with occasionally in his own life; in a sense, being able to deal with anxiety by way of creativity has helped.

Be prepared for a journey that Alvin will take you on and hopefully will produce another Aussie-made movie hit.

This is one that will certainly make a dent with festival audiences internationally and which will hopefully have a mainstream release in coming months and, with any luck, will win a ‘live’ Oscar.

Alvin’s Harmonious World of Opposites debuted in Perth in September and will find its way to Melbourne via ACMI.

A special screening will be held in Sydney at The Ritz Cinema in Randwick on Sunday 25 October at 5.30 pm, followed by a Q&A session.

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* Billy Cotsis is the director of the Draconian Decision of the German Drachma.