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Jim Stamatakos: Anastasi
December 8, 2016
Jim Stamatakos is an award-winning filmmaker and photographer based in Melbourne. He has been directing and producing short films since 1994, and has participated in festivals around Australia and overseas. His works explore, through unconventional narratives, themes of heritage, femininity, tragedy and the dark side of love.
Anastasi is a retrospective exhibition that shows for the first time most of Stamatakos films in the same space. The word Anastasi means resurrection in Greek, this exhibition intends to do that with some of Stamatakos earlier films and present them along with his latest film, Annex.
Stamatakos´s films come from a single image that pops up in his head. Then, while drawing the storyboard, he develops a narrative around it, creating a story out of fragmented images. He doesn’t tell stories in a classical sense; the narrative of his films is hardly ever linear, they don´t have dialogues (except for a couple of lines in Annex), and they all have a dream-like atmosphere. Still, even he devises his films with a well-thought story, his works allow multiple interpretations, something that the artist welcomes.
Sound is also a key element in his films. For him, it creates a stronger emotional bond with the viewer than image. While he is editing his films, he already knows how it should sound like. He sometimes puts together industrial or everyday sounds to generate a soundtrack that can touch emotional fibres on the spectator
Jim Stamatakos’ vast knowledge of film history has influenced his work in an indirect way. It is a non-conscious exercise that permeates the work of different directors or cinema movements into his films: Wig out (1994), and Pictures of you (1996) are quirky comedies with the attitude of John Waters’ films; in Paris-New York-London (1995), he plays with the camera to create an architectural musical in the style of Fernand Leger’s Ballet Mecanique (1924); Bring Forth Monsters (1997), feels like a German expressionist silent film thanks to its cinematography, make-up, editing, and acting; and Misfortune (1998), has an unyielding Nouvelle Vague atmosphere. These mix of influences give Stamatakos a particular way of looking that is revealed by his use of colour, sound and montage.
His work also comes from personal experiences. Telos (2002) and Lypi (2004) are representations of love lost, or as Stamatako’s would put it ‘the dark side of love’. In the first one, the artist shows a series of persons kissing each other and trying to connect trough their bodies, but they all seem lonely, like the closeness is leaving an empty space inside them. While in the second one, Lypi, one man chases after another clumsily, trying to keep up with him. The film is a reflection on the dependency we sometimes create for another person, and how hard it is to stand on your own again after a relationship ends.
The presence of strong women around him since he was growing up made a substantial impression on his work, affecting his approach to female characters. Annex (2016) is a tribute to his grandmother and his heritage. Stamatakos decides to use dialogues for the first time in this film, and he delivers it in his family’s original language, Greek. In it, his grandmother carries ‘all the pain and suffering in the world’ in her shopping trolley.
In earlier films, he presents the inner struggles of two women. In Bring Forth Monsters, (inspired by Rodin’s Gates of Hell) the main character is confronted by her own demons after a descent into darkness, while in Lilith (2006) the main character portrays the affliction of abused women through the myth of the first Eve. Although in both films the main characters end up tragically, they are redeemed by escaping the powers that subdue them.
Jim's works are a reflection of a complex inner world. It is an amalgam of subconscious influences and personal stories. He creates short tragedies and puts them on a screen with a disruptive narrative that allows us to interpret them in many ways, but what unifies his work is that each film leaves us with a sentiment of hope in their sadness.