Kiriakos Kotsinis

Director/Writer
Greece

1. Your film To Kill A Truth won award Best Indie Short Film. How was the film inspired?

The film was inspired by the international economic scandal that involves Novartis pharmaceutical overprescribing and overpricing of medicine, extortions, corruption and kickbacks of millions of euros and the stand that the greek systemic mass media took by covering up the scandal in my country. 
The scandal involved numerous former prime ministers and ministers from the New Democracy and PASOK parties, who took bribes from the Swiss pharmaceutical giant, in order to introduce the company’s drugs to the Greek market and the National Health System, using exorbitant overpricing, and thus burdening the indebted social security funds with 7 billion euros of extra cost, in a time of strict economic surveillance by the ECB and the IMF. Numerous countries claimed and won compensations for the company’s misdoings against the public interest. USA and Novartis came to a legal settlement with the former collecting the amount of 350 million dollars as compensation for bribes that were organized in US territory and took place in Greece. Still, in Greece a different story took place.
With the “help” of the majority of mass media which operate solely in the interest of the two parties Nea Dimokratia and KINAL (former PASOK), the political system turned the accusers into the ones being accused, transformed the scandal into a scheme of political revanchism, carrying out character assassination on people who had the courage to expose the injustice, defaming them because they stood for lawfulness and righteousness.
“To Kill a Truth”, tells the story of a systemic journalist, who has selected to serve political agendas and not the public interest, and addresses the vital importance of impartial and objective journalism to the integrity of Democracy and the public interest.

3. Films that inspired you to become a filmmaker?

Just to mention a few ones. Intolerance (1916) by D. W. Griffith, Apocalypse Now (1979) by Francis Ford Coppola, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) by Stanley Kubrick, Cinema Paradiso (1988) by Giuseppe Tornatore, Broadway Danny Rose (1984) by Woody Allen, Nostalghia (1983) by Andrei Tarkovsky, Dreams (1990) by Akira Kurosawa and last but not least The Travelling Players (1975) by Theodoros Angelopoulos.

4. Who is your biggest influence?

Although I was very young at the time, what struck me as most interesting for a reason yet to fathom, was the slow pacing, the long takes, and the dreamlike visual imagery of Andrei Tarkovsky, Theo Angelopoulos and Kurosawa in his Dreams. It was a poetic, transcendental revelation, especially with Tarkovsky. I was very young at the time and, to be honest, I didn’t know what was going on exactly but I did know for sure that these movies “scarred” my imagination forever. I couldn’t turn my face away from the screen. I was caught by surprise by the authenticity of the actions and the beauty of the artistic images, the perfect framing, finding myself immersed in a seemingly familiar universe yet so original, deprived of schematic and fake elements and unnecessary cliches. I realized then that this was how films should be.

7. If you could work with anyone in the world, who would that person be?

Without any second thoughts, that would be the Coen brothers. I absolutely dig their non-commercial approach to filmmaking, their often dark and weirdly funny style, their unconventionality and tendency to redefine genres as well their stories’ eccentric characters and labyrinthine plots. I love all their movies without exceptions. And, if I may add one more, the master Woody Allen.

8. The one person who has truly believed in you throughout your career.

This would be my girlfriend during earlier times and my wife nowadays. Luckily for me they are both the same person.

9. What was the most important lesson you had to learn as a filmmaker?

David Mamet, on
Directing a Film, asks the question “Why do some directors tend to have so many takes of one shot?” And his answer is “Because they just don’t know exactly what they want to shoot and that terrifies them.” I tend to agree with this view. And that is an important lesson I learned the hard way.

10. What keeps you motivated?

Maybe the same urge that made me run to a store at the age of 19, as soon as I could afford it, to buy my first camera and begin shooting an adaptation (by me) of Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull. The urge to turn the eye of the camera to the world capturing time and space, dramatized action, an artistic depiction of reality, making a leap from the ephemeral to the eternal.

14. The most challenging project you worked on. And why?

That would be “Shadows” again. We had to overcome a lot of obstacles. The cast changed several times before we started shooting, we had to change our composer along the way, although the music score was almost finished. Even on the audition day, there was a public transportation general strike and we had to bring all actors and actresses by taxi to the hotel the audition took place. We had to work on a very tight budget, so there were days we kept on shooting for 18 hours straight, with my dear cameraman wanting to kill me. But eventually all turned out just fine.

15. What are your short term and long term career goals?

My short term goal is to begin shooting my upcoming short film. Long term I wish to make history or, something more down to earth, to never stop shooting until I manage one day to contribute a small piece of knowledge to the filmmaking artistic process and make my work recognisable, with a hope that will leave behind an explanation regarding the meaning of existence or intriguing questions regarding it. Or just a consolation to the confusion of modern life.

16. Your next projects?

As we speak, I am working on my latest short film and we are at the stage of script development. The film is called “The Illusion of Happiness”, an existential drama revolving around the notion of time and the ways it determines/influences the relationship between man and the context of existence.

At the following link "To Kill a Truth"'s official trailer: https://vimeo.com/426562901
Facebook film page link: https://www.facebook.com/tokillatruth
Instagram personal link: http://www.instagram.com/kotsinisk
Instagram "To Kill aTruth": http://www.instagram.com/to_kill_a_truth

2. Tell us about your background and when did you decide to become a filmmaker?

A bit regarding my academic record. I hold a BSc in Civil Infrastructure from Alexandre University of Thessaloniki, a Diploma in theatre and film studies and an MA in European Philosophy from Manchester Metropolitan University. Regarding the matter at hand, I have been making movies since the age of 19.
There was never a decisive moment that made me choose to get involved with cinema. For me, the engagement with directing was a given, a self-evident fact at a very early stage in life. Since I can remember myself, I knew that this was simply something I had to do. No questions asked. I loved the way that filming had the ability of embracing reality, or a fragment of it if you wish, not by merely describing it but by recreating and redefining it, participating in its ecumenical essence and thus leaving a footprint in the eternal path of the quest for truth. You see, It wasn’t so much a decision I made at some given moment rather than an obeyance to a distinctive inner call.

5. Do you have a favorite genre to work in? Why is it your favorite?

For sure Ι don't find all genres to be equally interesting. I am not into Horror and Splatter movies for example, although I wouldn’t turn my back on them. That’s totally subjective of course. I pretty much like Guy Ritchie’s crime/comedy style as well as Woody Allens’s “remarkable laziness”. The moral ambiguity of Noir films or films that combine elements of comedy and drama and so on. To answer your question though, what is closer to my heart is Drama/Tragedy.
A complex artistic expression with many meanings, which leads us to the farthest-reaching questions about the value of existence. It is a solution against the suffering and absurdity of life, a yes–saying to the omnipotent character of life. Tragedy is perhaps the only art form that can give consolation to those who see everywhere only the absurdity of existence. Tragedy presents us with a tragic ideal, or rather with a life, whose inherently tragic nature makes us overshadow and forget all its wretched and pathetic elements. Instead of producing despair and depression, tragedy produces exhilaration. I think…

6. What’s your all-time favorite movie and why?

This is a very intriguing question and a difficult one to answer. How can one choose from so many iconic films and masterpieces, each one a great work and accountable for its own merits? I’ll choose a different approximation for this answer. I will pick the movie I believe I watched more times than any other up to now and that is The Big Lebowski (1998) by Joel and Ethan Coen. Now the “why”... Well pinning Coens’ artistic sensibilities down to a list of specific practices and styles is an impossible task one might say. Maybe it's just because, well… because “the dude abides”.

11. How has your style evolved?

This is tricky. When I began shooting my first short, I didn't know anything about cinema. Meaning that I didn’t have any prior academic knowledge on the subject except the agonizing desire and impatience of self-expression through this specific medium. It was an uncompromised thirst. With nothing but an intuitive guidance, I began shooting and took it from there. As I was growing up of course I tried different techniques and genres, adding my own personal twists, experimenting, choosing stories that only I could be able to tell, absorbing a lot of elements from my surrounding environment. Focusing on all aspects of the creative process, becoming more and more analytical, careful and patient. Today I still feel that I am at the beginning of my journey, although I am much more confident and certain regarding my choices.

12. On set, the most important thing is…

Pre-production. 

13. The project(s) you’re most proud of…

I am equally proud of all of my projects, even those where I feel there was a mistake. Still, if I had to choose one, I’d pick “Shadows”, a short film I shot in 2018, for the reason that it marked the beginning of a new creative period for me and my work.