As a young woman, like many Greek-Australian kids to migrants, she went into a professional career (law) before moving over to the feild of cinema when she was 30-odd. She studied at the Victorian College of the Arts (then Swinburne Film and Television School) and graduated in 1991 with the half-hour drama Antamosi (1991).
Since then, her career has gone from strength to strength, with a number of feature films gaining acclaim and international recognition, among them one of the few major films on the Greek-Australian experience in Head On (1998).
On the surface, it may seem like she is not particularly productive, with only three feature films in 20 years, but each feature is meticulously planned and created, and she has also worked on numerous TV series as a director (see the IMDb listing for those details).
Recently, she has directed a couple of the "chapters" in the anthology feature film Here Out West, which is currently awaiting release in 2021.
OVERVIEW: "Ana Kokkinos’ cinema is distinguished by its dynamic, kinetic and visceral style. The worlds she represents and creates intimately and bodily connect the viewer to the cinematic image. They have affective powers, evoking a gut reaction in audiences through being both physically, and as Brian McFarlane has observed, “emotionally demanding”. There is “nowhere to relax” in her films."
- Lisa French, Ana Kokkinos, Senses of Cinema, 2013.
"In Head On, Ari, as he himself insists, is no poet, no scholar. He barely knows why he does what he does, only that he must do whatever his emotions tell him. Perhaps to drive this home, Kokkinos' approach to narrative is intense and sometimes over-condensed. The movie is compact, its surface polished, unyielding and unforgiving, and viewers will surely find in it a reflection of their personal obsessions, possibly mistaking this for deep content. Certainly the centrality of Jean Genet's influence that's proposed here is in no way a clarification of his perhaps irresponsible commitment to betrayal as a radical political act - indeed some will consider it more a critique than an endorsement. But equally, Head On is seductively clear about the lyricism and lure of pure irresponsibility and about the cruel light this sheds in on all those who resist lyricism and lure and build such resistance into their politics."
- Mark Sinker, Head On review, Sight & Sound, November 1999.
The Book of Revelation
"Kokkinos has a formidable talent for the heightened sensation. In the moments leading up to the assault, percussive instruments, fluttering pigeon wings and the magnified ticking of a clock in a shop window are all given Hitchcockian parts to play, but the result adds up to hard work rather than heavy menace - the creation of suspense as an intellectual exercise ... Kokkinos's solution is to forget about naturalism. Instead, she fixes on the kind of high style you find in the darker corners of European arthouse cinema ... The sense of portentousness produces so many long silences, pained looks and strangled conversations that it's excruciating ... It's quite a trip - bravely undertaken and full of dark insights into the intimate connections between sex and power, but while it excites the mind, it never comes close to touching the heart."
- Sandra Hall, The Book of Revelation review, The Sydney Morning Herald, September 9, 2006.
"Only Frances O'Connor's Oscar-worthy performance received the appropriate accolade at the AFI Awards a couple of weeks ago. But the entire ensemble cast of Kokkinos' heart-wrenching masterpiece Blessed deserves acknowledgement, as does Cezary S kubiszewski's beautiful score and Geoff Burton's superb cinematography. Based on the 1999 play, Who's Afraid of the Working Class?, written by Andrew Bovell, Patricia Cornelius, Melissa Reeves and Christos Tsiolkas, Blessed is a searing day-in-the-life drama set in Melbourne's western suburbs. It's also a snapshot of modern-day Australia, of ordinary people caught in a maelstrom of financial stresses, shattered families and general social breakdown."
- Tom Ryan, Best Films of 2009, The Age, 2009.
Antamosi (1991, 37 mins)
Antamosi (1991, 37 mins, drama)
Only the Brave (1994, 59 mins, drama)
Head On (1998, 104 mins, drama)
The Original Mermaid (2002, 52 mins, documentary)
The Book of Revelation (2006, 118 mins, drama)
Blessed(2009, 113 mins, drama)
Here Out West (2021, feature, in post-production, drama)
co-directed with others