1.a metaphorical translation of nowadays truths
First, I must say that this is not a typical Hollywood spoon feeding or mainstream product. The Zero Years is a controversial, extreme, unusual, outrageous, mysterious, absurd, daring, exotic, erotic and political film which belongs to a trilogy the director has named "The Shape of the Coming Nightmare".
I had the pleasure of discovering this gem at the Chicago International Film Festival. It challenged many of the viewers at the screening but the presence of it's lead actress Vicky Harris (she's American ?!!) fortunately clarified many of the questions that arose during an extended question/answer session after the screening.
The correct interpretation of the directors messages seemed dependent of the previous films of the trilogy and even more so, as Harris explained, each one of his films is only a piece of the greater canvas of this directors work. Unfortunately, only one of his previous films has been released in the United States. The rest can be found on DVD, but without subtitles.
Yes, the audience had mixed reactions because this IS a provocative film. These types of films are not created to be loved or hated and the director obviously was not aiming for some specific reaction. He was just pouring out his very personal beliefs without caring about opinion. Opinions are boring and we have so much of it in our world, which, by the way, is full of critics. What one thinks of a movie is irrelevant! The question should be: Did it reach your subconscious or not. Did it make you think? and these questions by the way, cannot really be answered at the time you see a film like this because there is no way you can have a concept about what it has done to you yet. If you let this film affect you - you will find it will go into your deepest-darkest part, as it did ours, and THAT is the beauty of this film.
It features four lead females. Four a-typical characters who's ensemble acting is so intense that you cannot resist entering "their world" which is one of: off-beat dialog, original yet ambiguous story lines, surprising plot resolutions and brave themes of sexual and political nature. And although these types of movies are usually not performance based, most of the performances in this movie will rock your mind. Harris has a film presence that is almost hypnotic. Her performance is uniquely balanced between intellectual choices and truthful emotions. She effortlessly touches you through and through (and her presence at the festival was a double verification of her talent, as one could see that in real life, she bore no resemblance to her character). Kitseli as "the leader" is fantastic! and moments coming from Maro were strong too. Christina completes the group yet seems a bit theatrical at times. As an ensemble they are all fabulous!
Four sterilized women working in a State-run brothel, after the decline of the "new World Order" (which the director believes is NOT in the future-it is NOW). We all see the connection yet some called it a violent film. Well, violence is a part in every mans-every day life, and on many levels. Yet no matter what we say, the movie screen is at it's bloody est when we are talking about violation of the mind and soul. Such is the case of these characters. Living in a society of repression ("They tore out our wombs and implanted fear")... "Sterilized by the State"...
This film is just a strong metaphorical translation of everyday truths. Yet, not for everyone to accept.
2.Four women, barren, under surveillance and continuous toxic control, are serving their term in a government run brothel
Beyond his narrative genius N.N.'s evolution turns his creations into significant (and) extra-film events. This is particularly evident in "THE ZERO YEARS" – Beyond the obvious and the implied (global dictatorship, etc.) there is a discreet and penetrating psychological analysis and observation. As we know at the end of "THE ZERO YEARS" we clearly perceive that because of the deadlock and the lack of solutions its heroines choose hell over the free open world which (however) has been invalidated. It is both a conscious and an automated choice. The women are overcome by "institutionalism". Hell is fine because we know it and it is better than a supposedly free world, which, in any event, is wholly controlled and totally not free. "I love my bonds and my torment; they are better than the unknown horror of the outside." The "noir spoke" to us many times about impassioned heroes and their bonds, characters who are terrified of the free open fields. N.N. goes beyond this film-noir convention and reaches further to approach existential philosophy (particularly that of Camus). A micro-prison inside an enormous one. Whatever we choose we are trapped and what we demand is not to get OUT but to free everything, to tear down all the barbed wire. "THE ZERO YEARS" is a chronology of the end of civilization and of urban institutions. Everything is illusion; everything is utopia and a trap. ALEXIS DERMETZOGLOU