Alex & Eve set to make merry

Richard Brancatisano and Andrea Demetriades

Director Peter Andrikidis was bowled over by the audience reactions to his romantic comedy Alex & Eve when it screened at the Greek Film Festival at Palace’s Norton Street Leichhardt cinemas on Sunday.

It was the first time he’d seen the film with a paid audience and he marvelled at their rollercoaster of emotions, from laughter to tears to laughter.

After several decades in the business Andrikidis knows not to get carried away – festival patrons don’t always reflect mainstream tastes – but the omens are favourable in the lead up to the opening this Thursday. After all, Oddball shows broad  Aussie comedies can resonate effectively.   

“I am optimistic but you never know,” says the director, acknowledging that some of what he regarded as his best TV works did not succeed while programs he was less happy with did so.

Exhibitors are supporting Alex & Eve with bookings for 35 screens, although distribution consultant Kim Lewis, who is working for producer Murray Fahey’s company Magic Box Entertainment, would like to secure a few more cinemas in Parramatta and Sydney’s South Western suburbs.

Since the film's AFI/AACTA screening several key industry figures, unprompted, have raved to IF about the film inspired by Alex Lykos’ semi-autobiographical stage play Alex and Eve.

LA-based Richard Brancatisano, who stars in the US TV drama Chasing Life, plays Alex , a handsome Greek Orthodox school teacher still living with his parents, who expect him to marry a good Greek girl.

Inconveniently Alex falls heads over heels for Eve (Andrea Demetriades), a Lebanese Muslim corporate lawyer whose parents have arranged for her to marry a Lebanese Muslim.

Torn between different religions, traditional and modern values, Alex and Eve try to do all they can to stop falling in love.

Andrikidis was first offered the project by Fahey five or six years ago, so it had a lengthy development. He had worked with Demetriades in Janet King so she was a natural choice.

Brancatisano was among 10 actors who auditioned for Alex and he made his pitch from LA via Skype with the director and Demetriades.

“Even on Skype they had great chemistry and so it proved on set,” Andrikidis says. Tony Nikolakopoulos and Zoe Carides play Alex’s parents, with Simon Elrahi and Helen Chebatte as Eve’s parents.

It’s Andrikidis’ second feature; his first was Kings of Mykonos: Wog Boys 2. His extensive TV credits include Catching Milat, Fat Tony & Co., Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms, The Straits, East West 101 and HBO Asia’s Serangoon Road. Currently he is the set-up director on the second series of Screentime's Janet King and he will direct two episodes.

“I prefer working in TV,” he says. “You can tell stories a lot faster and you can tell tough stories, like Catching Milat.”

That said, he is developing another feature as a Greek co-production, which will deal with the issues of asylum seekers in both countries.

Here is the trailer: