Panos H. Koútras brings down the masks in Dodo

Picture of the film DODO by Panos H. KOUTRAS © DR

In a luxurious residence in Athens, the daughter of a wealthy family on the verge of ruin is about to get married. Then a dodo, a bird that has been extinct for 300 years, disrupts the preparations. In Dodo, Panos H. Koútras brings us  a gallery of characters who all drop their masks.

How did this feature film come about?

An idea that had been haunting me for a while: that of a stranger who arrives at your home and you can't get rid of him, but who finally becomes your Deus ex machina and saves you.


Why did you choose a dodo as the basis for this story?

The history of the dodo has always fascinated me. According to researchers, it appears as a charming and friendly animal, with an unusual and comical appearance, but also with a singularly tragic history since it was exterminated by man. Its story is universal, it speaks to all peoples. Especially to those who have been invaded or driven out by stronger people than themselves and who had no means to defend themselves.


You portray a gallery of characters who all drop their masks…

The heroes of the film are colourful characters, but above all they are at a time in their lives when they have to face a new reality and come to terms with the lies on which they have built their lives. The Dodo is a catalyst.


How did you work on these characters with your actors?

When writing the script, I worked a lot on each character separately. I invented their past and their story and then shared it with the actors. Each of them had a detailed story about their character. During the rehearsals, they worked with each other, sharing their stories and their imaginary pasts, thus tracing a road to get to the present, when the film takes place.

“The dodo is a queer bird!”

You also address the issue of the decline of the middle classes since the economic crisis…

I firmly believe that we are at a turning point, that the Earth is moving and that we are not sure how it will end. It seems to me very important that, throughout this tumultuous period, we keep our heads clear and resist the sirens of false promises. But above all, let us keep our humanity and our freedom.


You deal with the issue of refugees. What is the situation in Greece around this issue?

I have been very concerned about this issue for a long time because I come from a refugee family. The Greek government's policies in recent years have been harsh and unjust. We should not forget that Greeks were refugees and migrants not so long ago. It is important to understand that we can all become refugees or migrants.


Where did you shoot?

We shot in Athens at an incredible estate with a story similar to the one in the film. It belonged to a wealthy and eccentric man who was passionate about Byzantine art. During the crisis, in order to maintain it, he rented it out for weddings. After his death, the heirs could not find the means to renovate it. Today it is almost abandoned.


All sexualities are represented in your film…

We are in a kind of queer universe! Sexualities are mixed and nobody has a problem with that. Gay, straight, trans, non-binary… We never know the sex of the dodo. For me, the dodo is a queer bird!