Pános H Koútras • Director of Dodo
“The dodo shows what man is capable of: he’s capable of exterminating anything and everything”
by Teresa Vena
- CANNES 2022: The Greek director discusses the significance of the titular bird and using family as one of his sources of inspiration
Greek director Pános H Koútras' new comedy, Dodo [+see also:
interview: Pános H Koútras
film profile], has premiered at Cannes, in the Cannes Première section. In it, he assembles a kaleidoscopic array of eccentric characters that are forced to work together when faced with an unexpected special guest. We spoke to the director about using family as one of his sources of inspiration, among other topics.
Cineuropa: Where does your fascination with the dodo come from?
Pános H Koútras: There are many reasons for this fascination. Mainly, it's intriguing if we think about the fact that it was actually no threat to anyone, and yet man still brought on its extinction. Man killed all of them in the space of only a few years. I think it's very meaningful because it shows what man is capable of: man is capable of exterminating anything and everything.
How did you develop the different characters in the film?
The characters were there, plucked from my own personal gallery of people. They are people who interest me, and they are people I have worked with before and who also appear in my previous films.
Is there one character that you can identify with the most?
I can't really tell; I guess with all of them a little bit.
The biggest fights tend to happen at family gatherings. Presumably you have your own experiences with this?
Don't we all? Family is very important to me. As a gay person, I had to find my own family from an early age. Things have changed now, but when I was a child, I had to find references outside of my own family. In all of my films, the notion of family is important.
It's a colourful idea of community and family that you present here. Anyone can be represented in it.
Yes, because this corresponds to my personal taste. I pick what I like from my own personal portrait gallery. The character of the wedding planner, for example, I love. Even if we don't know much about her, we see that she is struggling to make it all happen, and I found this very touching.
In the end, this crazy bunch of people form quite a harmonious group.
I think it's harmonious because of the bird. They have to stick together in the face of the unexpected. It's in such a situation that people really show their strength.
At certain points, the father of the family says that they are in this desperate financial situation because of the “crisis”, even though he doesn't deny his own share of the responsibility. Is this a discreet hint about politics in Greece?
Well, it's what really happened. Not only in this family, but everywhere in Greece. Everything had been based on lies for a long time. The father, too, lies about his past; he cared about keeping up appearances. Suddenly, it all falls down. It was his fault, but he is also a victim of the times.
Among all the characters, there is one missing: the fiancé of the daughter, whose wedding they are preparing. Did you decide to leave him out from the beginning?
Yes. At one stage of the script, he appears at the end, but then I decided not to reveal him. We have already learned everything about him, so we don't need him.
Did you have any alternative endings in mind for the film?
Yes, I had another ending ready to go after the actual ending, in which one of the characters escapes and leaves this place. But the film was very long already and I had to cut it.
Did the colours of the dodo influence the cinematography?
Yes, I concentrated on blue and orange.
Are you also fascinated by Alice in Wonderland, like some of your protagonists?
Yes, I read it a lot, not only as a child, but also as an adult. It's an amazing story, and I find it very funny.
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