When two Greek speakers want to convey that they cannot understand each other, they often use the expression “that’s Chinese to me.”
However, in other countries people say: “for me, everything is Greek”.
This is the title of an award-winning short film by Christine Reis, an American of Cypriot descent and granddaughter of the influential poet Costas Montis.
“Greek to Me” is a short mockumentary-style comedy that makes fun of Greek Cypriot expressions and how they translate into English. The story follows two best friends: Katherine (an American) and Christina (a Greek-American). But Christina seems to flip a switch when she’s asked to help Katherine learn some basic Greek phrases before her visit to Cyprus.
The film won Best Short Fiction at the London Greek Film Festival and was screened in Toronto, Vancouver and Regina as part of the Canadian International Greek Film Festival tour.
Christina says her earliest memories of Cyprus date back to when she would come to her parents’ house on vacation and stay there for two to three months every summer.
“My summers in Cyprus are without a doubt my best childhood memories. I have so much love and nostalgia for my experiences in Cyprus: spending time with friends and family, going to Protaras, eating watermelon until I was sick… even the immense heat! she says.
However, she explains, what really strengthened her relationship with the island and later served as inspiration for the film, was her participation as a teenager in the Nepomak Discover Cyprus program, a program of three weeks organized by the Cypriot government for children. Greek Cypriot expatriates.
There, she formed close friendships and met others with a similar background.
“Not only did I meet some of my closest friends there, but hearing other people’s stories was a stark reminder of how the first generation experience is full of misunderstandings and often comical situations. I’m also fascinated by the power of language to subtly (or not so subtly) change a person’s dispositions. This is something I often noticed in myself when switching from Greek to English,” says Christina.
“Greek to me” was also inspired by “Greek to me” by Zach Galifianakis.Between two ferns» parody talk show. “I love goofy comedy, and playing someone who isn’t in on the joke was great,” says Christina.
After “Greek to me”, Christina is preparing for her next steps in the film industry. She notably produced a four-episode web series entitled “Stuck in Reality”, which is scheduled for release in February. She also produced a television pilot called “Nightbags” as well as the ” Who is missing ? ” podcast.
Later, she says she would like to develop “Greek to me” into a feature film shot in Cyprus.
WHO IS WHO
Christina was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio and currently lives in Los Angeles. Besides cinema, she has a background in dance.
“My grandfather was a Cypriot poet named Costas Montis. He always encouraged me to pursue my creative pursuits and had a big impact on my formative years,” she says.
“I have always felt very connected to Cyprus and my Greek heritage, thanks to my parents. As an adult, I maintain my Greek culture by speaking Greek when I can, cooking some of my favorite dishes (even though I can’t compete with Cyprus food!), visiting Cyprus whenever this is possible and by connecting with the Greek community. here in Los Angeles: I recently started volunteering for the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival, and it has been a wonderful experience,” adds Christina.
As for her dual identity, Christina says she’s lucky to have been influenced by two different cultures. “I know a lot of other children of immigrants don’t feel that way, so I’m grateful that I actually enjoy having a dual identity.” I took advantage of it a little… When I was in Cyprus, my name was American and when I was in America, my name was Greek. Maybe it was my way of feeling cool to counteract the weight of teenage angst, ha! Being exposed to two very different cultures also gave me the unique opportunity to select the parts of each culture that appealed to me, while remaining true that no way of life is “correct” – everything is relative.
Alongside Christina Reis, Katherine Bourne Taylor, Emma Maltby and Christina Apostolopoulos also worked on “Greek to Me”.
You can follow Christina on Instagram at @christinareis_