The Butler   (1997, 58 mins, 16mm)    

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The Butler (1997, 58 mins, 16mm)


A documentary film with some acted sequences sprinkled throughout, The Butler is about the special bond between the director and her brother Nino, in Melbourne, Australia. Kannava, re-establishing her life after developing a chronic health condition (scleroderma) at the age of 30, is assisted by her brother to live her life, and she in turns provide company and support to him, as he attempts to alleviate his loneliness.

This film is Anna Kannava’s masterpiece, an auto-portrait of great precision, honesty and innovation. The mix of elements is impressive: verite documentary, dramatised representations of the past, essay-like collage of photos and past films. No doubt a catharsis for Kannava personally, the film is also a great portrait of her entire family, the displacement they have suffered, and the regeneration they have encountered, in the new land of Australia.

(note by Bill Mousoulis)

In this years's Melbourne International Film Festival, one film has disarmed me with its bold, plaintive simplicity: Anna Kannava's The Butler, a whimsical essay on the history of her Greek immigrant family, and especially her life with her brother Nino.
- Adrian Martin, The Age, July 1997.

"Kannava's documentary presentation is frill-free and traditional, but the subject matter, so close to her heart, and its central subject, the delightful Nino, makes this a very touching film."
- Lisa Mitchell, Green Guide, The Age, November 6, 1997.

"Kannava's deftfly constructed, critically acclaimed The Butler (1996) characteristically features her narrating voice as it subtly works its way across an open-ended poetic, visual and aural iconography that speaks of the many behavioural cultural and historical intracacies of her life, especially in terms of Nino, 'the butler' of the film's title. This film is a vital essayistic document of her ambivalent, ironic and humorous exilic life between her past homeland, Cyprus, and her new host country, Australia. The frankness of her admission that she is suffering from the onset of the crippling disease scleroderma is a tragic undercurrent to an otherwise optimistic and lyrical take on her postcolonial life."
- John Conomos, Diasporas of Australian Cinema, 2009.

A Trip to the Moon essay by George Kouvaros

Kannava Essence (tribute to Anna Kannava)

IMAGES FROM THE FILM             click to enlarge

The Butler (1997, 58 mins, 16mm)

4K Restoration by Ray Argall in 2023

Director/Writer: Anna Kannava
Producer: John Cruthers
Cinematographer: Firouz Malekzadeh
Cinematographer & Script Editor: Brian McKenzie
Editor: James Manche
Sound Editor: Livia Ruzic

Young Anna ... Chrystal Hili
Young Ninos ... Salvatore Latona
Young George ... James Biviano
and featuring the Kannava family as themselves

Developed with the assistance of the Australian Film Commission
Produced with the assistance of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Film Victoria

EAC Dendy Award Sydney Film Festival 1997
Diploma Merit Vision Du Reel, Switzerland 1997
Melbourne Film Festival 1997
Nominated Best Documentary AFI awards 1997
Nominated Best Director Open Craft AFI awards 1997
Encouragement Award St Kilda Film Festival 1998
Finalist - New York Short Film Expo 1998
Mumbai International Film Festival 1998
Anna Kannava Retrospective, Cinema Nova, Melbourne 2011
Tribute to Anna Kannava, Sydney 2015
Artist Film Workshop, Melbourne 2018
IVAC film festival, Cyprus 2022
NIMAC exhibition, Cyprus 2023

© Anna Kannava Estate 2023