After a 10-year hiatus from filmmaking, director Penny Panayotopoulou makes her highly anticipated return to the Festival with this poignant study of a solitary woman who develops an increasingly peculiar attachment to a neighbouring family following the death of her dog.
September is the long-awaited sophomore effort from gifted Greek writer-director Penny Panayotopoulou, who returns to the Festival following an eleven-year hiatus from feature filmmaking. Like her 2002 debut, Hard Goodbyes: My Father, Panayotopoulou's latest explores the ramifications of the sudden loss of a loved one — though here the ruptured bond is that between a woman and her dog.
Anna (Kora Karvouni), a solitary, self-sufficient thirty-year-old, lives a life of modest contentment until the sudden death of her beloved collie. Overcome by an acute sense of emptiness, she finds herself gazing longingly at the bustling household across the street, home to Sophia (Maria Skoula), a married mother of two. Sophia's is also the only nearby property with an unpaved garden, prompting Anna to seek permission to bury her departed pet there.
The request proves to be a subtle catalyst for both parties as, despite their ostensible differences, Anna comes to recognize something of herself in her neighbour's quiet demeanour. The two women soon fall into a silent solidarity, each implicitly attuned to the other's sense of isolation.
The delicate simplicity of Panayotopoulou's storytelling continues to set her apart. As in her sensitive first feature, here she forgoes complex plotting and heightened emotion, crafting an organic, earthbound drama.
Compassionate and tenderly expressive,
September is a deliberate counterpoint to the
cynicism Panayotopoulou perceives in much
of contemporary cinema, taking its title from
the autumnal tradition of wiping the slate
and beginning anew. Given this fresh start
for the director herself, we only hope that it's
far less than a decade before Panayotopoulou
graces us with her next gem.