The Greek cinematographer Olympia Mytilinaiou has so far shot about 20 feature-length and short feature and documentary film, music videos, TV and corporate commercials, as well as video-art works.
The most famous film in her filmography in certainly Miss Violence by Alexandros Avranas, which won the Silver Lion at the 70th Venice Film Festival and won another 8 significant awards across the world, and Mytilinaiou won 2 international cinematography awards, Gianni Di Venanzo and Terre di Cinema.
Everyone who has seen Miss Violence cannot forget the nausea caused by the film story of a pater familias who sexually (incestuously) molests his children and grandchildren and subdues them as prostitutes. The story is inspired by the social-pathological case of Josef Fritzl and his family from Austria from a decade ago.
There are more and more female cinematographers in the film world, so, in a joking matter, the question arises of it being good or bad for the cinematography.
-It is tough to survive in a male film world when being a female cinematographer. Still, women need to be inside that world of tough work on film. The arts – and not just them – are already bored of the stories of the male society (ha, ha!) and we can notice that around. Also, it is impossible for a family to survive with only a man employed, so the women have to work as well on what they want, in order to secure a comfortable life. Earlier, there were very few professions available for women, a job that secures stable way of life for the family. Anyway, now, us – the women – came out of that situation, it happens very naturally: women will take higher and higher positions in the professions and the society, and will work what they really want, not just jobs offered to them, Mytilinaiou says.
She points out that the number of female cinematographers in the film industry is still not large.
-In percent, on a global scale, only 3% of cinematographers are female. There is a movement for the increase of the number of female cinematographers in the film industry: the part of the female cinematographers in the European cinematography is 10%, but it’s only 0.5% in Greece!, Mytilinaiou comments on the state of the female representatives in cinematography.
The cinematographer Céline Bozon, participant in last year’s competition selection, pointed out that half of her cinematography students in the past few years are female.
-True, during my studies, a lot of women graduated in cinematography as well, but I was the only one of those generations that succeeded in surviving the “massacre” of women in the film industry that came later on! After graduating from film schools, women slowly started to disappear from this profession. There is always an excuse of why there are no women in this male profession, Mytilinaiou thinks.
On the other hand, what was the feeling of Mytilinaiou like as a woman that shot the mental horror Miss Violence, in whose story the husband (also a father and a grandfather) is the master of the fates of the women and the children in the family?
-Someone has to talk about such cruel occurrences. We, as film professionals, have to give the people even such sick stories. I was very taken away by the film, not as much in the shooting process, as much as in the process of reading the script and seeing the finished film. During the shooting of the film, you are concentrated on doing what is best for the film. I stopped smoking after shooting this film. The film was so strong that something broke inside me. I needed one year to realize that not all men are pedophiles! But you have to process a lot of things if you want to shoot a film by such a script, Mytilinaiou remembers.
Your filmography has a lot of short films. Which film form do you prefer?
-I prefer feature-length films, but, on the other side, short films are a great opportunity to connect with the younger people and meet some new directors. In the short films, you have the freedom to check some things, as they are compact, and you don’t have that opportunity in feature-length films. All I do has the purpose of collecting as much knowledge as I can, which I bring into my next project. I also work on video-art films, which also have a story, but in a very minimalistic form, Mytilinaiou says.
There seems to be a growing trend of shooting more and more films in black-and-white. What is Mytilinaiou’s view on that?
-Black-and-white film will always be an opportunity to be creative, but you can also do that in color films. It is all up to the script and the imagination of the authors who work on the film. I am very glad that more and more films are shot on filmstrip like in the past, but it becomes more popular again because of the aesthetics of every film, which are different and they ask for a special approach. The true approach is the most deserving of praise for a successful film. Hence, the matter of the film being black-and-white isn’t that much significant as the story itself and the way in which you want to communicate it to the audience, Mytilinaiou concludes.