The autobiographical documentary, Fortunate Son: A Love Story sees Montreal filmmaker Tony Asimakopoulos turn his camera on his own family to create a portrait of love, loss and acceptance. Inspired by the filmmaker’s desire to chart a major crossroad in his life - a past life of drug abuse and his impending wedding - he spoke with Kylie Boltin before the film’s Australian premiere at the 2012 Greek Film Festival.
In Fortunate Son Asimakopoulos' Greek parents, Aristomenis and Vassiliki speak for the first time about discovering their son's drug abuse. “The reason I made this documentary was because I was at a point in my life that I didn’t want to make anything up,” Asimakopoulos says over the phone from Montreal.
“I didn’t even know what I was doing when I started. The only thing that interested me was telling the story about how my parents struggled when they discovered I had a drug problem. It was a very dark and difficult time for them. My mother started telling me some things about it that I never knew. That motivated me. I wanted to honour what they went through. I thought it would be great for other Greeks and other families to see. It had nothing to do with me but as it evolved [it became clear] that I had to be a part of it.”
Asimakopoulos filmed the documentary in phases, initially “just watching my parents” and then filming spontaneously with his fiancé, passing the camera back and forth. “At a certain point it got more complicated, and I had to hire a camera person,” he says now. “I didn’t do anything but participate at that point. That was the best part for me because I could actually be a human being, not a director – because it's not fun to be shooting all the time when you're so invested emotionally. There is no distance. People ask me if it was therapeutic and cathartic to make the film. The short answer is no. It created more pain and difficulty for me and for my relationship with my wife but it helped my relationship with my parents, especially with my father. The feedback I’m getting is that it’s more therapeutic for people watching it. That’s ultimately what the work is about.”
It took Asimakopoulos five years to make the film, during which time he and his fiancé planned their wedding and his father, Aristomenis became gravely ill. “On a personal level, showing the final film to my entire family, seeing my father healthy, was restorative for everyone.”
Fortunate Son screens in Melbourne and Sydney. See the Greek Film Festival website for details.
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