Columbia Film Festival

With New Eyes

Available in 42d 05h 27m 39s
Available June 22, 2021 4:00 PM UTC
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Pavlos, a cynical, racist Airbnb host, spends a night with his new tenant, Fotis, a romantic, insightful blind man seeking human contact after his wife’s death. As the night progresses, however, Fotis begins to shed light on Pavlos’ misconceptions.

Director Statement

Some memories from childhood that have stayed with me, are of my grandfather gradually being blinded by diabetes. I always wondered what someone who loses their sight feels. I observed him as someone “different” who had developed special qualities - both physical and spiritual. I never perceived him as a strange creature, triggering curiosity and disgust. He taught me lessons of simplicity, clarity, and wisdom. Through the power of his soul and spirit, I traced the steps to a “hidden” God. Over the years, I wanted to make a film that touched on this subject.

“With New Eyes” is a short film based on “Cathedral” a short story written by Raymond Carver which revolves around the exact same theme of blindness vs real sight. Pavlos, an Airbnb host, fears that the physical impairment of his new tenant, Fotis, will lead to the destruction of his apartment and decides to spend the night with him. However, as the evening progresses his prejudices are challenged. The blind man’s views illuminate his dark perspective, forcing him to reconsider the loneliness of his own life.

The genre is dramatic comedy. My aim is to create a socially-driven film that is tender but also laced with poignant humor. I do not want to tell another story overloaded with optimism. The end does not reflect absolute redemption, but a right to hope that things can get better. The location and time period of the film is Greece during the economic crisis and therefore during a crisis of values.

My cinematic influences are linked to anthropocentric films such as: “As Good as It Gets”, “Gran Torino” and “A Man Called Ove”. In these films, you are not so concerned with the evolution of the story but more with the characters involved in it. People are the core and the states of their lives revolve around them. Especially “As Good as It Gets”, even though it falls into the category of romantic comedies, it is realistic and sincere, trying to bring to light the reality of the people we meet around us every day. People with quirks and problems that do not look like they have sprung from the pages of a fairy tale. Also, some more of my cinematic influences are films like “Scent of a Woman”, “Ray” and “Proof” in which the central character is blind.

A major literary influence on the film's central theme is the children’s book “The Little Prince” by French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. One of the highlights of the book is the meeting of the Little Prince with a fox, an animal that too many people symbolize sly intentions. The fox is the one who gives him an important lesson in life. It tells him not to be afraid of the “other” because he can learn something from it and concludes with the central idea of the film: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Director Biography - George Leontakianakos

Born in 1979 in Athens, Greece. He studied Geology at the National University of Athens and has an MA and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from NTUA. He is a high school teacher of Natural Sciences. He studied Film Studies at New York College. He has directed seven short films.

  • Year
  • Runtime
  • Language
    Modern Greek (1453-)
  • Country
  • Note
  • Director
    George Leontakianakos
  • Screenwriter
    George Leontakianakos, Alexandra Dyranis - Maounis
  • Producer
    Konstantinos Gourgiotis
  • Cast
    Yannis Sarakatsanis, Kostis Savvidakis, Thomas Demissie
  • Cinematographer
    Michael Kallidonis
  • Editor
    Konstantinos Gourgiotis
  • Production Design
    Venetia Dedemadi
  • Sound Design
    Kostas Varympopiotis, Valia Tserou
  • Music
    Zorzes Katris