Gay Essential Films To Watch, Xenia (Ξενία)

In the gay-themed drama Xenia, sixteen year-old Dani (Kostas Nikouli) leaves Crete to find his older brother Odysseas/Ody (Nikos Gelia) in Athens after their mother’s unexpected death. Born to an Albanian mother and a Greek father they’ve never met, these two young men are de facto stateless children despite being born in Greece, a country where jus sanguinins (birth right), overrides jus soli (birth place right).

Childish and prone to trouble, Dani, who constantly has a lollilop in his mouth, is flamboyant and comfortable in his own skin but he’s all alone and disoriented, his only friend being a white bunny he always carries around. Ody may seem better off and his few years of age over his brother make him more mature yet he desperately needs to escape his bleak fast food job.

When Dani suggests tracking their father down and force the man to officially recognise them, the reluctant Ody gives in at the prospect of auditioning for ‘Greek Star’, the national talent show that takes place in Thessaloniki, where their father is indeed supposed to be living. Despite having potential, Ody lacks the self-confidence to dream big, but Dani galvanises him with their mutual love for 60s-70s Italian pop singer Patty Pravo (who appears in a cameo). They inherited this passion from their mother and it’s practically what brings them together as shown by a few improvised musical moments, performed by the two non-professional actors with genuine flair. The siblings then embark on a picaresque journey that will help them find themselves whilst testing their brotherly bond.

Xenia

Critics

“You come away from “Xenia” feeling a bit more alive and ready to throw caution to the wind.”
   Stephen Holden, The New York Times

“This comedy of brotherly love and outsider acceptance nonetheless boasts a spirited, audience-pleasing core.”
   Guy Lodge, Variety

“Reality and camp are expertly juxtaposed in this touching if overlong story of two Patty Pravo-crazy teenage brothers.”
   Boyd van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter

Did You Know?

In Xenia, Filmmaker Panos H. Koutras wanted to deal with this issue of stateless children in Greece, which has now reached dramatic proportions with the emergence of the far right in his country, and more broadly speaking in the whole of Europe. He calls immigration the great tragedy of our times and wholeheartedly underlines how we should side with immigrants, help them and listen to them, since after all, our privileged countries are partly responsible for their dire situation. He is against the very idea of a nation and believes human beings must be free to choose their own nationality, especially when they were born and raised in a state they consider their country of adoption, and being deprived of this right seems outrageous. Review our Gay Themed Films Here

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Alexander Ryll
Launched in June 2014, Gay Essential is the world’s largest gay themed film blog promoting new and rare features. I am helped by some amazing writers and we also cover film festivals in the UK and USA. We are 100% independent, without advertising or funding by film distributors. Help to keep Gay Essential independent by purchasing our merchandise GET (Gay Essential Tees)
Alexander Ryll

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