Cinema Libre Studio releases Worlds Apart at Village East Cinema on July 13th, 2017.
NYC MOVIE GURU: When it comes to finding the right balance between entertaining the audience while provoking them intellectually as well as emotionally, which of those elements was most challenging to tweak in the editing room?
Christopher Papakaliatis: The most challenging thing is how to tell a story well. That's always the case. Always what influences me is how to combine things that have to do with emotions with what's happening in real life. In this particular movie, what influenced me was the social, political and economic crises that Europe is going through and, especially, my country, Greece. The movie is about love versus politics. I always had to balance the love story with all of the politics without making it like a documentary or without telling people what to do. It just gives some solutions because I think that sometimes you can find solutions through art.
NYC MOVIE GURU: As a writer, what is your relationship like with stereotypes? How do you fight the urge to use stereotypes?
CP: I never use stereotypes. I always use all the things that are happening around me. I wrote the script in 2013 when things were quite different: the immigration issue was a big issue for just Greece and Italy. Today, the immigration issue is a big issue for all of Europe and for the US as well. So, you see, things are changing all around the world. It's not about stereotypes; it's about telling a story, what you want to express, what's happening around you and to your friends and loved ones.
NYC MOVIE GURU: A filmmaker once stressed to me the importance of hooking an audience into a movie within the first few minutes. Do you agree with that?
CP: I totally agree. Actually, I think the most difficult part of writing movie is the middle of the movie. When I write the script, I always know the storytelling and know how to shoot each and every scene. If you read my scripts, you'll notice that I write a lot about each scene.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How did you avoid complicating Worlds Apart with too many characters and stories?
CP: I decided to create three different stories just like three different movies. At the end, I combined them. The audience thinks that they're going to watch three different love stories in the age of crisis, but in the end they all connect into one with a big twist. I did that on purpose because didn't want to mix the stories up in the editing room.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How did you find the right balance between the film's light and dark elements?
CP: Writing a script for me is like painting. You use different colors, so you mix different colors and every color is an emotion. So, you have a whole array or like a big house with many different rooms. Each room is an emotion. I always try---I don't know if I succeed each time--to find a balance. It's more true when you laugh and when you cry. If you only cry, then I don't like it very much. If you only laugh, then I don't like it as well. I believe that we are capable of living and expressing all kinds of emotions.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Do you believe that two strangers can instantly fall in real life like the characters in Worlds Apart do?
CP: That happens in life. It's how love begins and you fall in love. It only takes a minute. I was very fortunate to work with these actors because the chemistry was amazing between the youngsters and even Maria [Kavoyianni] and J.K. [Simmons]. That's always the case with a movie: when you sit at the table during a rehearsal and read the first time, I immediately know who's clicking with whom.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Can you detect charisma within yourself? What about detecting it in others??
CP: I can't really detect it in myself. I'm really insecure. When I write something, I always read it to my family and close friends. When I write, I do it due to my psychology at the moment that I'm writing something. So, it depends. If I'm very, very happy, I can write a great scene if I listen to a great song. I always believe that music is the base of where I write. I'm not sure if I can detect the charisma within myself. I can detect it in others. If you were an actor and I wanted to write something, I could write something like I'm painting you.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How do you think that the advancement of modern technology is affecting the quality of human relationships?
CP: The middle story in Worlds Apart is with the guy who falls in love with the cold businesswoman and suddenly she starts to be influenced by the music and everything in the city and the Greeks. I come from a country where things are still quite personal. I believe in face to face meetings. So, I try to use the technology and not let it use me. I try not to get addicted in social media. I'm very bad in social media. I only have Instagram---and that's only because of the movie! They told me, years ago, that I have to use Instagram to promote the movie, so I did. I even prefer to talk on the phone with somebody because I'm used to talking on the phone and not having FaceTime or something like that. I always prefer to talk to the phone or to go out for a coffee. I think that it's a different kind of magic if you're face-to-face with someone.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Francois Truffaut once stated that a great movie has a perfect balance of Truth and Spectacle. Do you agree with his simplification?
CP: Of course.If I was 19 or 20, I wouldn't understand that. I'm not 19 anymore. I totally understand that. I try to go along and try hard to always keep the truth about the things that I'm writing. I don't avoid the spectacle at all because I think that it's very, very, very, very important. Spectacle is the storytelling. There is truth in spectacle. When I direct my own script, I'm three different people: a writer, a director and then I'm an actor. So, I'm always the one who fights with the other one, but they each compliment one another.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Do you think it's harder to find truth within spectacle or spectacle within truth? Sometimes you have to look beneath the surface to find truth or spectacle.
CP: If you want to write to truth, you only need to look underneath the surface because the most truthful stuff are found underneath. With everything that's going on all over the world, things have changed a lot. Things are not very balanced around us---emotionally, socially, politically and economically. It's like a big puzzle. Under the surface, you can see the most wonderful things and the most scary things as well. It's very intriguing and interesting for someone who writes to be truthful and write what you have in mind as well as underneath your soul.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How did you decide how much violence to include in the film? Too much violence would have made it too much like a Tarantino movie.
CP: I adore Tarantino because he knows how to do that. It's not the thing that I want to back home to write about. So, it's very truthful for someone to write about the things he likes and believes in. If you believe in something and are true to what you believe in, it's like math: 1+1=2. I don't like violence; I prefer psychological violence. I believe that psychological violence is much more strong.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What do you think is the purpose of human struggle?
CP: People will always find something to struggle with. They will always have their own demons. We all have our own demons. This is part of life. The political struggle is a different kind of struggle right now. It's not fair at all not only what's happening in my country, but all over the world.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Where within the spectrum of pessimism vs optimism would you find yourself when it comes to the future of mankind?
CP: I think that humanity is in a stage that's unbalanced. I always try to be optimistic. I see the good side of things. I know that there's a dark side, but I don't go to that side from the first moment. It's like seasons: there's a winter, spring, summer and autumn. So, I try to be optimistic---I have to be.
NYC MOVIE GURU: I realized that when the film's title card was displayed on the screen, the word "Apart" was stretched.
CP: You realized that?? You are the first! Thank you so much! At least one person realized it! That's something I did as a graphic designer.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How challenging was it to find a title for this movie? The Greek title is Enas Allos Kosmos which translates as "Another World."
CP: It was very, very difficult to find a title for this movie because I knew that it would surpass the borders of Greece. So, I was trying to find something because I wanted to have an English title. I couldn't put Another World because it sounds sci-fi. What I wanted to do was to bring people from different countries in Greece and fall in love with Greeks, so they are from different world. That's why at the end of the movie, J.K. Simmons says, "We might be worlds apart, but we're all the same when we fall in love." That's how Worlds Apart was initially chosen. The meaning of Enas Allos Kosmos is not exactly "A Different World." It means that when you're in love and find the humanity within love, it's like you're living in a different world. In the beginning, the movie was called Eros from the ancient god Eros. Eros is the connecting point for each story. I couldn't keep that title, though, because Eros, in the US, means "erotica." In Greece, we don't use Eros for sex; we use it for love: Erotas. It's the god of Love. In Greek, we have a different word for love: Agape. Falling in live is Erotas. J.K. Simmons was very frustrating because he wanted the title Eros---his character was telling the story of Eros. I went to the internet to "Eros.com" because we tried domain names for the films and, suddenly, all the sex shops in the U.S. showed up. I said, "Oh my god! In the U.S., Eros has to do with sex, not emotions or falling in love! It's only sexual!" So, we had to go with a different title.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What was the process like in finding the appropriate English subtitles for the Greek dialogue?
CP: It's the most difficult thing for me. I wasn't confident at all. It was very difficult for me when we had to do the English subtitles because the Greek language has many, many, many words---much more than English because of the Ancient Greek and Modern Greek. It's a very rich language. So, when I did the subtitles, because Greeks talk very quickly and have lots of words, we had to adapt the subtitles, so you always lose the essence. Every language has its own uniqueness.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Given how subjective humor is and that humor doesn't always translate from one country to another, how did you decide what kind of humor to include in Worlds Apart?
CP: Every country has its own codes when it comes to humor. I like witty humor. I grew up in a multicultural family. My mother is South African. She's Greek, but born and raised in South Africa. So, she came to Greece when she gave birth to me. In my house, I have a Greek father and a mother from South Africa. This movie wasn't very difficult for me to combine different aspects from different topics and types of humor. My kind of humor, though, is the witty one.
NYC MOVIE GURU: I believe that CGI should be called standard effects while everything associated with humanism would be truly special effects. Do you agree?
CP: I agree, but, on the other hand, I think that we can have both. We don't need to choose. I believe that somebody who creates a whole city out of nothing is like art, like a painting. I respect people who do great special effects. It's a whole new world. You don't need to leave all the human stuff to use special effects. I don't prefer to watch a movie that has all special effects. No, no, no way. But don't forget that life is changing and suddenly we have the technology which has many different ways to use it. If you use it in a good way, you need to balance it. If you balance it, then everything's ok. Unfortunately, we don't have that balance.
NYC MOVIE GURU: If you woke up during the production period with $100 million, how would you turn Worlds Apart a tentpole movie?
CP: I would take actors from America, Latin America and Australia---everywhere---and I would create a movie that can travel around the globe. I would create something from each country and continent. It would be big, but it would have the big artists from all over the worlds. I'm not very good at sci-fi. I like watching some of them, but I don't think I am good at creating them. I've never tried it.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How challenging is it to find the right rhythm during a scene?
CP: Rhythm is the most important part when it comes to storytelling. If I'm reading my lines with another actor and I realize we're not in the same rhythm, we read it again. From the beginning of rehearsals, I always know that if two actors click, then the rhythm is right.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Would something be lost by watching Worlds Apart on the small screen?
CP: When you create something for the big screen, people have to watch it on the big screen. It's like theater. We have a lot of theater in Greece. It's like watching theater on your laptop: the art of cinema is for the big screen. It's not for the laptop. I understand that you can have a big, wide screen in your house, but even then I think that it's not the same. Some things are more sentimental for me and, practically, I create something for the big screen, not the small screen. But, I have to go along with the technology. I fought with so many people that they have to go and watch it on the big screen.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What film would make an interesting double feature with Worlds Apart?
CP: Kramer vs. Kramer, Billy Elliot and everything that has to do with love and romance, like Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet and Amour.