Apples – Interview with Christos Nikou
Apples had its World Premiere at 2020’s Venice Film Festival, screened at Glasgow Film Festival 2021 and is released digitally on Friday 7 May by Curzon Cinemas. Dallas King recently had the opportunity to chat over Zoom with the film’s Writer-Director Christos Nikou.
Flickfeast – Like an apple growing from a seed, where did the seed of the idea for the film come from and how did you grow it into Apples?
Christos – The idea had two different approaches. It was a very personal story. I had the idea when I was trying to deal with the loss of my father. I was also trying to understand at the same time, why people forget so easily and how select people’s memory is and how you can erase something that helps you. Could it be we are the things that we forget. Because in a way we are our memories. So all these questions were in my mind and also as a filmmaker, and a viewer, I love to watch films that allegorical worlds that can comment on our society. A film that made me want to get into filmmaking when I was 14 was The Truman Show. I love the work of Charlie Kaufman. So I tried to transfer my personal thoughts and stories into creating this world where amnesia spreads like a virus
Flickfeast – I imagine that when you started it, you probably didn’t imagine the film would premiere at Venice during a pandemic itself. How has that played into the film’s release and reception?
Christos – Fortunately it’s a coincidence, not a prophecy. So I had the idea six years ago but for the last few years I feel like we are leaving in a dystopia. For me, right now, with the pandemic, I think that what we are missing more is communication, real in-person communication. It’s ncreased the last year, but we’ve been dealing with it the last 10 years, because we are behind a screen the whole time. I hope that at the end of the pandemic, everyone will start to experience life again in a different way. Maybe it will resonate easier right now because of the pandemic. The themes are recognisable, right now to the audience, because we’re dealing with loneliness, with isolation, with loss, with uncertainty about the future. On the other hand, I believe that the subject of memory is something timeless. And I hope that it’s not a movie that clicks only at this time, and the movie will try to give an optimistic approach and an optimistic ending about how you can deal with a pandemic. And then about the first person quit for sure. It wasn’t exactly what I expected when we finished the film.
Flickfeast – You mentioned the digital aspect there, where it contributes to losing the personal connections. The tasks the amnesiacs perform are very much about connecting with other people and even the sort of technology that uses very analogue. Similar to Leonard Shelby from Memento with his Polaroid camera. How important was it to have this analogue, in person connection and how did you come up with the the tasks they had to perform? Were there any that didn’t make the final cut?
Christos – Yes, there were some but actually not a lot. The idea behind this for sure was to make a comment, on technology, social media, and how we experience life right now. The tasks they have them following, you hear something then you have to go and imitate it, to take a selfie with a Polaroid camera, and then put it in a photo album, which is exactly what people are doing right now with Instagram, Tik Tok challenges, etc is that they have to vote for something, then live an experience. Take a selfie with a Polaroid filter, upload it in a digital photo album. But in a way, I feel that that they care more about the photo than the moment. So all these ideas, all these tasks, were to try to create something that are common memories. For example, the first task that is to ride the bicycle is that because when you will learn how to ride the bicycle, it’s something that you will never forget. The tasks are made in a way in order to create a different emotional, because you have a different emotion when you when you crash a car, you have totally different emotion when you are watching a horror film, or when you are having a one night stand or when you are going to a costume party or even when you’re dumping from somewhere high or when you are dealing with that.But the doctors are giving the tasks to all the amnesiacs. So accidentally they will create people with common memories.
Flickfeast – This film reminded me of one of my favourite films, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. You explore some similar theme about memory. Whether they are good or bad, they make us who we are. And losing them is losing yourself and how important it is that to accept and sort of hold on to them.
Christos – It’s also one of my favourite films. I love how clever it is and how it dealt in this spirit of self governance in a dream. And yes, it was one of our references in a way. I mean, we didn’t try to copy something or to make something very similar, but we try to analyse and go in maybe different direction try to understand how memory works, and how selective is our mind, how you can get rid of something that affects you?
Flickfeast – I was wondering about the choice of Texas Chainsaw Massacre for the film they watch at the cinema. Why did you decide on that film? I was curious if it was an ironic choice, given the character of Leatherface is not great at meeting new people and social interactions!
Christos – At one point we discussed using another film. Dumbo, because the elephant is also an animal that is connected with memory. And they will found the tagline on Dumbo that was saying that it’s a movie that you will never forget. So we’re going to use that movie at the beginning and they have small kids watching the movie together with our amnesiac heroes. But then we ended up with the idea of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. To take one of the most scary films ever, and to try to make the amnesiacs feel emotions through that viewing experience.
Flickfeast – Finally, I was looking at your IMdb profile and saw that you worked as an Assistant Director on Before Midnight. It is part of one of my favourite film trilogies. What was it like to work on that with Richard Linklater and Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy?
Christos – It was a great experience. Because I loved the first two films. I think my favourite is Before Sunset. That ending with the Nina Simone song. “You’re gonna miss that plane” and he’s like “I know”. One of the best endings ever. So the movie was shot in Greece and I was very excited to work on that movie. What I loved was the way that the three of them were like one voice, and also the family environment they created on set. You can feel totally in his movies, how much he loves cinema. And that’s something that I always admired, filmmakers where you can feel that they love cinema.
Apples is available on Video on Demand with Curzon Cinemas from May 7th.