Lucy Helen Kostos’ journey to uncover the story of her great aunt, Katina, has been captured in the essay film The Hidden Eye.
The film is shot on expired 16mm film and tells the story of Lucy’s search for a new narrative about her ancestor, who immigrated to Australia as an infant and had a significant presence in the Ithacan community in Melbourne.
The film will be screened publicly for the first time on Sunday, May 7, at Ithaca House, with all proceeds going to the Ithacan historical archive. The screening will be followed by a discussion with writer Arnold Zable and a performance by musicians Conor and Lloyd O’Hanlon.
Lucy’s interest in Greece and immigrant identity led her to Ithaca, Greece, Katina’s birthplace, to find answers about her great aunt’s life, including why she never married or had children.
The process enabled Lucy to reflect on her own journey as a woman of Greek heritage and understand the complexity of family dynamics. The film is a poetic celebration of culture and generations, connecting the old with the new.
What prompted her to travel to Ithaca to try to find answers about Katina, who lived in Australia, in the place of her birth?
“I guess it’s just a curiosity. And my grandfather being part of that. Too. She was my grandfather’s sister, I’d always hear so much about Ithaca. It is an island beyond beautiful, blessed by nature and praised in Greek mythology and history.”
And Katina was kind of like that, Lucy says, trying to find the words to describe the undecipherable but strong aura of this matriarch who never had her own children, but held everyone in her strong and unconditionally loving embrace.
Speaking to Neos Kosmos, Lucy shared that her great aunt was a significant inspiration that filled the role of a great-grandmother figure not only in her life but also became a pillar for the lives of many around her.
“Katina had this aura about her, she was really maternal to me,” she tells. “She was kind of like a grandmother figure to me. Katina really filled this role for all the grandchildren. She just emanated love.”
She also reflected on the challenges of making a film that is about her family, and treading through past conflicts that needed to be handled subtly and understood.
“My journey into my family’s past has been a challenging one, but I hopes the film will inspire others to reflect on their family history and identity.”
The Hidden Eye is not from a commercial realm but has attracted a diverse audience that includes members of the Ithacan club who knew Katina, her contemporaries, and people from the experimental film world.
Lucy gets to rediscover her ancestor from the beginning of the end as she herself attempts something completely new. Lucy is an artist, primarily working with glass.
“It’s like a very artist DIY film. It’s not like your regular film. It’s shot in an introspective, experimental way. It’s very abstract and sentimental. A lot of people will be coming at people from the Ithacan club who knew her growing up, her contemporaries. It’s an ode to her as she was a big part of the Ithacan Community and was on the historical committee. There will also be quite a few people from my world, the experimental film world meeting us both there as the film is a lot about myself. In figuring out who she was I am putting myself out there for the first time. The first time I am showing my work publicly. She helps me hold some of that responsibility.”
Their similarities go past the external; the similarities are noticeable comparing their photos, however, they both shared a passion for history and bringing different vantage points together.
“Everyone says I look like her, too. Especially in her youth,” Lucy says.
“Like Katina, I like uniting different timelines and perspectives. The Ithacan society was her favourite place and she was passionate about history and heritage. We have that in common. With this event, I wish to connect the old with the new, the Ithacan Society does not host events like this often. It will be a celebration between generations and culture. The discussion with Arnold Zable, and then a performance by musicians Conor and Lloyd O’Hanlon. My friends meeting with her friends… Keeping the legacy alive and giving it a new spin. A journey into the future through the past.”
When & where: Sunday, May 7, at Ithaca House. Tickets are $15 and all proceeds go to the Ithacan Historical Archive. Doors open at 6pm with the screening commencing at 7pm, followed by a Q&A and a live music performance.