After the passing of her beloved grandfather, 23-year-old Anastasia Comelli, the granddaughter of Early Greek Australians Theodora and Anastasios, who migrated to Australia from Pontos and Kastoria, filmed her first movie, Nostos, at her yiayia and pappou’s home to honour her Greek heritage, as well as pay an ode to the life and contribution of all the Greeks of the diaspora in Australia.
“I remember when I was really little, I loved nothing more than going over to my yiayia and pappou’s house where I would spend endless hours wandering around, exploring and discovering hidden little treasures I had never seen before, while listening to my grandparents talk about a whole different world I had never experienced in a whole new language I didn’t always understand but loved hearing,” Ms Comelli told Neos Kosmos.
Inspired by her grandfather’s passing, ‘Nostos’, is the 23-year-old’s personal recollection of an inter-generational understanding, ignited by the stories and experiences passed down from her grandparents and mother that evoked feelings of yearning and wistfulness.
The film, which features an epic hero’s homeward journey from sea, portrays nostalgia, the sense of longing for the past and its sentimentality.
“After my pappou’s passing I visited my grandparents’ home, but nothing felt the same. It was almost like the world had gone quiet. Everything seemed so empty and sad, but at the same time as I wandered around each room, looking at every corner and observing every piece of furniture, this magical silence gently reminded me of the many beautiful memories I had made with my pappou or yiayia over the years,” Ms Comelli said. At that point, she decided to turn the pain and sorrow of her pappou’s passing into something beautiful; a short movie, a hymn of his life and the life of every Greek Australian that has touched our lives.
Anastasia’s film Nostos, screened at the Adelaide Film Festival in 2018 and youth film festivals around the world and earned the 23-year-old graduate of Flinders’ Bachelors of Film and Creative Arts program, a fellowship through the Helpmann Academy and the opportunity to take part in an eight-week directing course at the MET Film School in Berlin next year.
“I’ve always wanted to undertake a fellowship through Helpmann and now I am able to develop my practice and expand my knowledge as a director while showcasing my own heritage and celebrating the lives of Greek Australians. This is just a dream come true,” Ms Comelli said.
She is already researching for her new movie which will be focused around arranged marriages and the brides that made the journey from Greece to Australia.
“I truly believe that it is extremely important to tell those stories and also explore how our grandparents have shaped and influenced our upbringing shaping the next generation of Greek Australians while at the same time I feel as if it is our duty to document the history and life journey of the early Greek Australians whose accomplishments have made us all so proud here in Australia,” she said.