“It is not consciously an allegory,” he says. “I don’t know. I think I would always be drawn towards the worst part of society. It is interesting to discover those parts. I like to expose them so people can look at them. Maybe they dismiss them. I also like to look to the ridiculous. I think I would always have been interested in these things.”
Dogtooth was one of the most critically lauded movies of 2009. It was among the most original films of the decade. There, thus, seemed absolutely no chance that it would receive an Oscar nomination in the best foreign film category. That category has always been the most compromised in a very heavily compromised array of awards. Only cute films concerning muddy-faced children need apply.
To everyone’s surprise, however, Dogtooth made it onto the long list and then, generating even greater shock, it secured a spot in the final five.
“It was a huge surprise. It is as big a deal as you can imagine. So it drew a lot of attention in Greece,” he says. “Well, the whole thing was surreal. Every aspect of it was odd. We went there to enjoy the experience and it was all very pleasant. But it’s not as glamorous as you might think. You are in a mall, basically. That contradiction is interesting. All these stars are made up and they are making their way into a mall.”
We think we know what the Oscars are like. We’ve been watching the ceremonies for decades and the rhythms all seem terribly familiar. But there must still be surprises when you actually attend.
“The most amusing part is this thing with the sitters,” he says.
Ah yes. These are the ordinary people employed to occupy seats when nominees or their guest take time out for comfort breaks. The Oscar organisers do not like the notion of empty seats.
“That’s right. They have these people all dressed up to sit in your seats They have these name tags and they throw them back when they sit down.”
Do they employ lookalikes? Was some bloke with a beard wearing a sign saying Yorgos? “No, I am afraid not. It does seem to be random. They hurry into your seat when you go to the loo. It is very different to what you see on television.”
Hang on. A man pretends to be a more important man every time that person goes to the lavatory. It sounds like a Yorgos Lanthimos film. Isn’t this where we came in?
* Alps opens next week