Andrea Demetriades on turning her hand to directing

Andrea Demetriades and Louisa Mignone in Latte e Miele, which they both also directed.

Latte e Miele (Milk and Honey), Andrea Demetriades’s first outing as a director, is currently screening as part of the Greek Film Festival.

Demetriades directed the short along with her “partner in crime”, fellow actress Louisa Mignone, and both star as the leads.

Set in the early 1950s, Latte e Miele is the story of two sisters who’ve left war-torn Italy on the promise of a better life in rural Australia.

On arrival they meet their husbands, whom they’ve married by proxy, for the first time. However, neither the men nor the country turn out quite like the  women expect.

“It’s a comedy,” Demetriades told IF. “But I feel as if comedy can sometimes amplify the tragedy of the situation and really force people to listen.”

Mignone wrote the screenplay, but she and Demetriades came up with concept together.

“We wanted to explore the different stories that Australians have,” said Demetriades. “[Besides] the Indigenous culture, we’re a land of immigrants and we have to accept and nourish that.

The idea of proxy marriages, commonplace among southern European migrants to Australia from the 1920s to 1960s, resonated with both filmmakers.

“We’d heard of the idea, so we went and researched it and found all these wonderful and heartbreaking stories,” said Demetriades.

“It’s like the ultimate blind date really; they knew nothing about these people but they were willing to risk that to start a new life.”

The two directors raised the funds to make the film through a Pozible campaign, along with the support of the 2013 Metro Screen First Breaks program.

As first time directors, Demetriades credits the Metro Screen course for preparing her and Mignone for the experience of shooting.  

“It was a wonderful learning ground,” said Demetriades. “I was really sad to see it go. It gave a platform to us.”

It's a foundation they were especially grateful for given they were also acting in the same project.

“We didn’t have someone [else] we could rely on. We had to solve the problems as they arose,” said Demetriades.

In addition to all of the new challenges involved in directing a film, Demetriades also had to act in Italian – a language she didn’t speak.

“I learned it all through Louisa. She’s a great teacher; she can speak Italian quite beautifully,” she said.

Despite the difficultly, Demetriades said acting in a foriegn langauage is somewhat liberating. “It’s freeing because you’re not really yourself; you do need to take on this character.”

Overall, Demetriades said making Latte e Miele was  a “great learning curve” and she'd like to continue to pursue directing.

“It’s very satisfying and nourishing being able to see something that you’ve made,” she said. “It’s even very satisfying getting a take done, and moving onto the next set-up.”

“Whereas, as an actor you’re not really as aware [of the overall process]; you do your bit, you play your function within the millions of other functions.”

Demetraides and Mignone are currently playing sisters again in an adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone at the Seymour Centre in Sydney.

In the future, Demetriades said her and Mignone would like to write a film adaptation of the play, placing in a post-apocalyptic setting.

Further, they’d like to keep telling stories of multicultural Australia.

“I feel as if it’s really important now. I feel as if that big influx [of migrants] in the 1950s proved to be such a great thing for Australia. That I think it’s so scary that the borders are becoming harder to penetrate.”

The Greek Film Festival runs across Australia during October and November.