The girl behind Anna

The Suntan siren, Elli Tringou, reveals herself.

Apart from writing and directing unconventional films, Argyris Papadimitropoulos has an eye for young-talent.

His latest ‘discovery’ is the actress behind Anna, the 19-year-old Greek tourist visiting Antiparos, whose simplicity, abrasive manners and fervent sexuality sparks Kostis’ (Makis Papadimitriou) obsessive behaviour.

Elli Tringou, in her unembellished interpretation of the character, becomes the punch in the stomach for anyone ‘coming of (middle) age’ like the lonely, obscure protagonist of the film.

Seemingly carefree Anna, via Elli’s childlike, innocent even, features, delivers to the screen the outline of a careless, narcissistic siren who, feeding off the confidence of her blessed youth, toys with a lonely man’s misery.

With all inhibitions waived, while strapped onto the strict guidelines of realism, Elli’s acting walks us through several horribly uncomfortable predicaments and turns her character into a cautionary tale.

In an undoubtedly admirable performance, the young actress bares herself, literally and metaphorically, and objectifies her naked body, yet without a sign of sexual pretentiousness, leaving the viewer to constantly question her intentions.

In a candid one-on-one with Neos Kosmos, Elli Tringou shares her thoughts on acting, her ‘suntanned’ big break, nudity and life altogether.

Who is Elli Tringou?
Elli loves nature, people – especially children – she also loves animals and travelling. She likes to get inspired and to inspire as well. She despises injustice and the abuse of power.

What made you become an actress?
My unquenchable desire to discover everything and my constant urge to test the limits of human nature.

Would you say you and Anna have a lot of things in common?
I take pleasure in enjoying life and I love my friends a lot like she does.

How did this collaboration with Argyris Papadimitropoulos come about?
We met. He described his dream to me. I was fascinated and decided to do everything in my power to help him realise it.

When you were accepting the role, did you expect or even remotely imagine how much publicity the film would receive?
Cinema in Greece, although remarkable, hardly ever gets the recognition it deserves. In most cases, non-commercial films that usually rely on a small budget and can’t afford the famous headliners sell very few tickets on a national level. Such films are most likely to make it in the international festival scene.
This is something I already knew and exactly what I expected. Greek audiences, however, surprised us rather pleasantly.

What does Suntan mean to you?
Suntan means desire. It also means diving into the void without a parachute.

Suntan is an exceedingly realistic film where nudity, in its rawest form, is prevalent. Did that bother you at all?
If there wasn’t nudity, there wouldn’t be Suntan. The movie revolves around youth and its decay. This analogy unravels from the outside in. It starts from the skin and reaches the deepest parts of the soul.

What was your favourite memory from the filming process and what was the most challenging part?
My favourite memory would be the moment we wrapped-up the first day of filming. It was my first ever encounter with the camera and I was thrilled to still be alive.
As for the most challenging part, I’d say it’s trying to be as responsible as I could with all the freedom I was given by the director, as the entire film was built on improvisations.

Just when the viewer thinks the film has ended – quite abruptly to be honest – leaving them with numerous unanswered questions, Anna’s face appears again, unexpectedly, right after the closing credits. What is she thinking?
She … leaves having realised that youth is not synonymous with immortality.

What would Anna or Elli answer to those saying it’s the story of a girl who ‘had it coming’?
Elli is all for freedom of expression and having an open constructive dialogue, thus she takes said comments into consideration with respect.
Anna wouldn’t even bother.

And life after Suntan? What’s on the cards?
At the moment I’m working with Yannis Economides [Stratos 2014, Knifer 2011, Soul Kicking 2006, Matchbox 2002], an acclaimed and multi-awarded film director, in his first theatre venture. We shall be staging Xenopoulos’ legendary Stella Violanti at the New Scene of the National Theatre of Greece.

*Suntan is screening today 6 and next Saturday 13 August as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival, see for further details.