Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
Original title: Sugartown: Oi Gambroi
Greece/Germany/Finland, 2006. Anemon Productions, Bioptic, Greek Film Center, Hellenic Radio & Television, Ma.Ja.De Filmproduktion, Media, Yleisradio, ZDF/Arte. Screenplay by Kimon Tsakiris. Cinematography by Argyris Tsepelikas. Produced by Rea Apostolides, Kimon Tsakiris. Music by Sergios Voudris. Film Editing by Tatiana Panigyri.
Kimon Tsakiris takes his cameras to the Greek town of Zaharo after hearing a news report that its population is almost entirely men. The women, as in many small towns in Greece, have left to work in the city, while the men stay behind since tradition has them inheriting the land and responsible for maintaining it. This means that there are many men running local cafes or tending farms in a place that is overrun with bachelors. In an effort to match the lonely singletons with women, the mayor (conveniently working on his re-election campaign) decides to do a cultural exchange program with the Russian city of Klin, which conveniently is chock full of single gals. A group of Greeks travel to Russia and are hospitably welcomed among the ladies, with some possible connections happening between people who don’t speak each other’s language but find sympathy all the same. When the women come to visit Zaharo (which literally means “Sugar” in Greek, hence the title), things change: the men have barely kept contact in the months between visits, and now that they have the women on their own home turf they aren’t quite as anxious to put their best face on. This fascinating study of human relationships is blessed with probing direction by Tsakiris that celebrates its subjects’ enthusiasm while healthily criticizing their weaknesses. The filmmaker is frank but never judgmental, and always sympathetic; the film is charming and very funny, highly enjoyable and surprisingly informative on both the culture it examines and human nature in general.