A queer road movie from Greece, Xenia has a scruffy, involving tone that gently explores big issues of identity and ethnicity.
It centres on bouncy gay 15-year-old Dany (Kostas Nikouli) who, after his mother dies, travels with his pet bunny from Crete to Athens to find his big brother Ody (Nikos Gelia). Together, the two hit the road to find their long-lost father.
What follows is a loose and rather messy odyssey in which these brothers spend rather a lot of time either naked or lounging around in their underpants. Yes, filmmaker Panos Koutras keeps the tone light, focussing on the relationship between these brothers. They’re a terrific duo: likeable, sexy, funny and infuriating at the same time.
This was Kostas Nikouli’s first movie role, and he sat down with QX in London to discuss the experience. He says the film’s message is that we need to connect with people who have different backgrounds, ethnicities and sexualities.
“In Greece we aren’t open to everyone, we don’t communicate,” he says. He never hesitated at taking such a colourful gay role. “When you are gay that’s just a fact,” he says. “So you start your life and you see the world that way.
And the most helpful advice from Panos was to never think about playing a gay role. He told me to be more childlike and focus on that, and the other things will come.” The bigger challenge for Kostas was an extended musical number.
“It was a lot of work to choreograph that big dance number in one long shot,” he says. “It had to look improvised from Nikos and I, because it was like, ‘Hey, come on, let’s dance!’ And then we were dancing like professional dancers. In just our underwear!”
• Xenia is out now on DVD/VOD from Peccadillo