Profile: Yorgos Lanthimos, director of Alps

Profile: Yorgos Lanthimos, director of Alps

The Greek filmmaker is also the man behind comedy drama Dogtooth

Athens, Greece, 1973

Having studied at film school in Athens, Lanthimos made his debut feature with My Best Friend in 2001. It was his third feature Dogtooth however, a bizarre black comedy about an upper-class Greek couple who try to prevent their adult children from exploring the outside world, which captured the attention of international audiences. It won the Un Certain Regard award at Cannes in 2009 and was nominated as Best Foreign Film at the Oscars in 2011. Having acted in and co-produced Attenberg, he has now directed Alps, another rigorously composed study of human perversity, in which a quartet of individuals impersonate the recently deceased in order to assist the grieving of their relatives.

What’s he up to now?
Lanthimos is currently living in London and is developing three English-language film projects: a period drama about Queen Anne, a dystopian sci-fi drama, co-scripted by regular collaborator Efthymis Filippou, and a literary adaptation.

On the inspiration for Alps
‘The starting point was [the question]: how will your family and friends react if you die? Will they change their lives or will they carry on as before? We came up with the idea of a paramedic and a nurse, because they work in a hospital and to bring them in contact with bereaved people.’

On pre-film nerves
‘Creative projects are so delicate - it’s so easy to make mistakes. Before every film, I am equally nervous and anxious and desperate and depressed. Even when you have finished making it, you’ve become so involved with it, that it’s difficult to take a detached look at it.’

On directing actors
‘I used more professional actors in Alps than I had in my previous films. I didn’t do lots of rehearsals, because I wanted to retain the tension and awkwardness that you get when you bring people together for the first time.’

On his distinctive visual style
*2‘I like long static takes, because they allow the viewer to take their time and discover the space within the frame and the characters. When I watch films with so many details in close-ups and reaction shots I find it confusing.’

Interesting fact
Lanthimos’ mother, who brought him up from a young age as a single parent, died when he was 17.

Alps is on selected release from Tue 20 Nov.

Alps Teaser Trailer (2011) from the director of DOGTOOTH - Oscar Nominated Film

Alps (Alpeis)

  • 3 stars
  • 2011
  • Greece
  • 1h 33min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Giorgos Lanthimos
  • Written by: Giorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou
  • Cast: Stavros Psyllakis, Aris Servetalis, Johnny Vekris
  • UK release: 9 November 2012

A group of hospital employees assume the names of different Alpine mountains and offer themselves to the families of recently deceased peoples as doubles for the departed. Lanthimos (Dogtooth) directs this highly eccentric tale with confidence and command, but compared to the earlier film it feels a bit unfocused.