Melbourne 1999. Christmas time. A career-crazed journalist unearths the secrets behind the disappearance of an infamous socialite while dredging up family traumas of his own. That is the synopsis of this dark comic thriller. It’s genre busting and in a good way. It manages to blend it all in one tantalising movie.
From family drama, to murder mystery, to plot twists – left, right and centre.
Slant premiered at the Monster Fest film festival last Sunday to much fanfare, and packed two back-to-back sessions. After the premiere it won Best Australian Film and was awarded $5000 for marketing.
Slant is set for release next year across theatres and on streaming services. For those who grew up in, or experienced the 90s, the movie is a throwback to that era. The cars, the outfits, the makeup, the electronics, you name it, the 1999 aesthetic was on full display.
The film also has a Greek flavour to it. It isn’t a story of a Greek migrant, or anything really seen before, but rather there are some characters who happen to be Greek.
Writer and actor Michael Nikou told Neos Kosmos, he wanted to avoid the usual Greek story and bring something fresh.
Nikou plays an Anglo-Australian character, Derek, one of the leads, and he also wrote the script.
“My parents were both born in Greece and immigrated here when they were young. And I am the youngest of three children… I had a Greek tutor that would come over growing up and we spoke Greek at home and I was very fortunate enough to go to Greece a couple of times when I was young,” he said.
“However, I probably would say I didn’t like being Greek just because I lived and grew up in the inner south east and went to a very whitewashed, private boys school.
“I initially would try and distance myself from my Greek culture, but then as I grew up, and I got over that chip on my shoulder, I came to embrace my Greek culture and love that my parents had forced me to have a Greek tutor because now I have this other language that I could speak and add another facet to my life.”
“And that’s worked its way into the film in that the film concerns two families, one of which is a Greek family.”
Nikou is also the managing director for the production company behind the film, BimBimFilms.
Directed by James Vinson, it features an ensemble cast including Nikou, Ryan A Murphy, Ra Chapman, Kate Lister, as well as Australian screen legends Sigrid Thornton, Pia Miranda and Elle Mandalis.
Miranda and Mandalis play Greek characters, with some dialogue spoken in Greek. Mandalis was a standout, with her character providing hilarious comedy, playing up the Greek Australian trope. Her tone, pronunciation and all, match that of how you would imagine a Greek Australian woman to be. She plays the character as “a loud opinionated, Greek Australian woman with no filter”.
Many will find her character relatable or may remind them of an aunty, cousin or other relative.
Her role in the movie was rooted in Nikou’s experience of growing up Greek in Australia.
“It’s definitely evident in the film, the differences between the experience of the Greek family in the film, particularly the lead, played by Elle Mandalis,” Nikou tells Neos Kosmos.
“She plays Kaye Kopoulos in the film, and 100 percent her journey in the film is a reflection of my experience, and probably many Greek Australians experience being that sole Greek in a room.”
Slant was, as Nikou said a”wish list” of what he likes to watch mixed with family dysfunction on the screen, the result however, is an entertaining and riveting film that perfectly blends its genres, and throwing a little Greekness in – for extra flavour.