The title “washingtonia” of Konstantina Kotzamani’s short film is a kind of a tropical palm tree, native to the southwestern United States. It was one of the types of palm trees that Athens imported during the Olympic Games in 2014 in order to make the Olympic city much more exotic and appealing to all of the tourists and visitors around this time. In the film it is said to be the only kind of palm tree that survived from the Red Beetle, an insect that was also imported among with all other palm trees and which actually devours the juiciest and fleshy part of the palm trees, also known as palm’s heart.
Survival that is not heroic at all. With its “small and dry heart” Washingtonia cannot attract these cruel insects, which instead attack and kill all of the other palms. As in real life nobody likes small and dry hearts, not even insects like the Red Beetle. Like all those palm trees dying from their half-eaten hearts, the main characters of the film of Konstantina Kotzamani are suffering from their non-love-heart syndrome, completely excluded from the normal definition for loving and receiving love. These characters represent the ones that have lost meaning for life and now only exist. On the other hand, we see as a main figure the giraffe, which is not only the animal with the biggest heart in the world, but its heartbeat dominates the world. The image of the giraffe is a symbol for the heartbeat that actually dictates the rhythm of our lives and gives us hope and direction.
Konstantina Kotzamani uses the relation between nature, animals and people as a metaphorical core for the four main plot stories that completes her film. Washingtonia walks us through Athens by revealing an extraordinary and unique portrait of the city and opening up the hidden everyday life of its people, who fell into summertime sadness because of the unbearable heat. Washingtonia is a film about the big and small hearts and about the ones who failed in being loved and loving back.
The film of Konstantina Kotzamani is a metaphorical reaction to the inability of human beings to bond with each other and instead to put their emotions and grow feelings into an illusion. With its visual poetry and slowed-down camera shots the film observes and follows the story of these characters by looking deeply into their dry, lonely souls and revealing their true longing for something or someone to fill in their empty hearts. It articulates an almost utopian sense of loving and belonging, where real human relationships are destroyed and pure feelings like mother tenderness and care, warmth, intimacy and partnership are wrongly expressed and interpreted.
Washingtonia holds many meanings – it could be a name, a metaphor or symbol but above all it stands for hope. It is the moment when a fresh, smooth wind brings soft rain to overcome this unbearable summer heat; it is the moment when a child long neglected feels for the first time a mother’s care and tenderness; it is the moment when a man’s lonely heart starts to beat again.
by Bozhana Shoshkova
Bozhana Shoshkova has first completed her Bachelor in marketing and pursued a second master degree in Advertising Management. Between 2012 and 2013 she was enrolled as a European volunteer with the organization of the 10th edition of the German Short Film Festival for youth, FiSH – Festival im StadtHafen in Rostock and participated as volunteer in various other film and art festivals. She is passionate about the audio visual culture as a communication medium in the modern society and what fascinates her the most is the artistic expression and power of the short film genre, used as tool for building bridges and establishing a dialog between different cultures.