The latest screen work by Greek Australian filmmaker Kosta Nikas, the dystopian flick UTOPIA was voted by the Jury as the Best International Narrative Short at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival.
UTOPIA is the story of a man returning to his country after decades abroad only to find a heartless society where there is more freedom inside prison than outside it. Desperate, but unable to escape, the act of one brave woman gives him his freedom.
In UTOPIA homes and cars have government cameras that fine their occupants; alcohol and smoking is illegal; citizens fine fellow citizens for the slightest offence with their mobile phones in exchange for a commission from the said infringements; the use of beaches, parks, and other public spaces are dictated by regulated times and dates and anyone with a mortgage or any debts cannot travel outside the country. Sound familiar??
“I wanted to make a film for this zeitgeist; respond to the mobile phone obsession and technological invasion which is often misused at the expense of our privacy, freedom, human dignity and environment,” says writer- director Kosta Nikas.
Nikas was prompted to make the film by the increasing prohibitionist and surveillance nature of the city where he lives: Sydney, Australia.
UTOPIA seems like an apt response for a city in particular like Sydney given the protests over the lockout laws and the accusations of increasingly intrusive and ‘nanny-state’ like policies successive governments seem to be adopting.
Nikas is no stranger to responding to the times, his feature Sacred Heart responded to the crisis of religious faith and its institutions, his parody Boat People which screened on SBS/NITV was a response to the boat people debate, and now Utopia.