Alkinos Tsilimidos is one of Australia’s most important contemporary film directors. He has a reputation for being an actor’s director and is renowned for his uncompromising approach to stories of social relevance.
In terms of independent filmmaking, he is almost a legend, as several of his features were shot with his own money, and only at post-production stage did the funding bodies chip in.
He graduated from Swinburne School of Film and Television (now Victorian College of Arts) in 1988 with a distinctive short documentary on gambling called Man of Straw.
His début feature film, Everynight…Everynight (1994) won international critical acclaim. It was awarded Best First Film (Prix D’Montreal) at the Montreal World Film Festival and was in Official Selection at the Venice International Film Festival. The film received two Australian Film Institute nominations, including Best Director.
His second feature, Silent Partner (2001) was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the AFI and Film Critics Circle Awards and was in Official Selection at Toronto, Montreal, Newport, US Arts Comedy, Athens, Singapore and Bangkok film festivals.
In 2004, Tom White was released to wide critical acclaim. It received 13 AFI award nominations, with lead actor Colin Friels winning the FCCA and the IF Award for Best Actor. Tom White was invited to participate at numerous international film festivals including Montreal, Hof, Busan and Chennai.
Em4Jay (2006), Alkinos’ fourth feature, participated at Melbourne, Brisbane, Athens, Mostra De Valencia – Spain and New Zealand film festivals.
In 2010, Blind Company was released nationally after a successful international film festival campaign, including Montreal and Las Palmas.
Since then, Alkinos has concentrated on directing for the theatre, with several large-scale productions.
Critically, I feel the work of Alkinos Tsilimidos is undervalued in Australian cinema. I think the paradoxes of his work have confused the critics: the hybrid of theatre and cinema, and the hybrid of low-budget cinema with high-budget presentation of the works. We really must acknowledge the particular qualities of these films, and give them their due value.
The short film Man of Straw is the easiest to analyse and there can be no doubt with it - it is a priceless study of a gambler, a Greek-Australian man, lost at the TAB and the races. It clearly recalls Cassavetes in its surfaces, of the face of the man, and the environment he's in.
The first feature Everynight ... Everynight is a hard-hitting, hysterical prison drama, distinctive in its B&W.
Silent Partner is more naturalistic, and who could deny the charm of its two battlers, despite the theatrical feel?
Tom White is more conventional, but still a gripping psychological study, the closest Tsilimidos has come to the mainstream.
Em4Jay is the knockout blow of his career, a stunning sequence-plan film about two junkies, severe but moving.
The most recent feature, Blind Company, I can't comment on as I haven't seen it.
- Bill Mousoulis, November 2015
Man of Straw
(1988, 28 mins, 16mm)
Everynight … Everynight (1994, 92 mins, 16mm)
Alien Big Cats (1998, 52 mins, 16mm)
co-directed with Christopher Gogos