Interview with Filmmaker James Elazzi (YANNIS)

YANNIS, 9min., Australia, Drama
Directed by James Elazzi
Yannis, a first-generation Greek/ Lebanese Australian older teenager has been rejected by his family for being gay and now lives under a bridge, working the local beats as a sex-worker. Omar, his best friend, once in the same situation as Yannis, is now determined to better his life and begins to pull away. A portrait of culture, sexuality and isolation asks; Where do we find refuge when the world seems to have forgotten us?

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Being of Lebanese/ Australian descent, I wanted to touch on experiences that I have been through in my life, with the hope of connection to others that may have gone through something similar.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

It took around 6 months to create the whole film from start to finish, although the script was written much later. There was a longer version of the film that was shot, but I had it then cut into half, essentially what has been seen now.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

Raw and real.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

It was the first film I have ever made, so the whole experience was new to me. Although I am a playwright, and I have been through the process of my writing being staged, my true passion is writing and directing for film. So, learning on the go was the biggest obstacle!

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Surprised and I felt very shy in my own little space. But, it’s really special to know that Yannis is shown on the other side of the world, and that there is an audience that is connecting with the Yannis. It’s my passion to have this type of connection with the audience, whilst also giving a voice to communities that we rarely ever see on film.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

Since I was about 5

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Muriel’s Wedding.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

More promotion of my film Yannis, and avenues to other festivals that would be interested in showing the film.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

Really great and easy to use.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Kafta and hummus, along with Antony’s mum’s garlic dip. It’s out of this world amazing.

11. What is next for you? A new film?

I am in pre production with my next short (longer) film, Seeds of Gold which we shoot in February 2023.

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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