Eva Stefani is a documentary filmmaker, visual artist, and poet, who uses video and super 8 film to make observational documentaries and short visual poems. Selected filmography includes Manuscript (2017), Virgin’s Temple (2017), Dimitris Papaioannou (2012), Bathers (2008), What Time is It? (2007), The Box (2004), Acropolis (2001), and Athine (1995). Her films have received awards internationally: Principal Prize, 64th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen; National Quality Award, Greek Ministry of Culture; International Film Critics Award (FIPRESCI); 1st Prize for Short Documentary, Cinéma du Réel, Paris. She has also participated in international exhibitions, most recently in the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia (2019), and documenta14 in Athens and Kassel (2017). She is the editor of the Film Series at Patakis Publishers in Athens, as well as the author of two film books, Documentary: The Observation Game (Patakis, 2016) and 10 Texts on Documentary (Patakis, 2007), and a book in poetic prose, Fin’s Hair (Polis, 2014). Stefani teaches Cinema Studies at the University of Athens and is a visiting professor at Freie Universität, Berlin.
Within in the context of a small tribute to her work in 2019, SIFF presented her first documentary Athinai as well as her latest feature Days and Nights with Dimitra K. The latter was shown as a work in progress, excerpting selected rushes from the eight years of filmed material Stefani has collected.
Athine (Greece/United Kingdom, 1995, DCP, 36 ́) records life in Athens Railway Station (also known as Stathmos Larissis) in the spring of 1995. In her first documentary, Eva Stefani focuses on the station’s “residents” – Antonia, Florakis, Barba- Yorgos. In the director’s own words: “In the back side of the Station, around the tables behind the cantine, different people would hang out using the space as a night shelter. Communication was hard, because many of these people, stigmatized as they were with the label of “homeless”, felt awkward in our presence. Even though we assured them that we wouldn’t use the camera without their consent, some were aggressive. My attempt to express my intentions in words had failed. Our long and persistent presence on the platform provided the solution and led to a sincere friendship. In the end, they were the ones who asked me to film them: “’Εva, what’s the story with this camera? Will you ever take a picture of us?’.”
Days and Nights with Dimitra K. is a portrait of a woman; a portrait of a city. Fifty-eight-year-old Dimitra, a.k.a. Elli, head of the Union of Greek Sex Workers, has been working in the business since her early twenties. She is the former owner of one of the oldest brothels in Athens. In 2014, due to the economic crisis, Dimitra was forced to shut her business down. Filmed over a period of eight years, the film documents an exploration of Dimitra’s life before and after the closure of her brothel, while offering insights into the hardships of living as a sex worker in Greece.
Eva Stefani also visited SIFF in 2016, where she presented an ongoing re-edit of her past work in a gestational phases, in a program that offered a glimpse into the filmmaker’s creative processes and an open discussion with the audience.
In 2018, SIFF screened her acclaimed short Manuscript as part of its program themed “Is It Real?”:
Manuscript (Greece, 2017, 12΄) takes place one night in the spring of 2017: “Molly is a dog- woman who wanders around the city making bubbles. It’s a national holiday and Molly walks on all fours among parades, people in uniform, and ancient drama theater plays…”