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Today at Chicago International Film Festival: ‘Amerika Square’

Greek tattoo artist Billy (Yannis Stankoglou) and African singer Tereza (Ksenia Dania) flee Greek thugs in "Amerika Square."

The Chicago International Film Festival continues through Thursday at AMC River East 21, 322 E. Illinois.
Yannis Sakaridis directs, co-writes and edits this timely Greece/U.K./Germany co-production about Middle Eastern emigrants in Europe. Crafted as a geopolitical microcosm, “Amerika Square” has a thriller-inflected plot raising tough-minded issues.
Two Athenian friends deal with the influx very differently. Tattoo artist Billy (Yannis Stankoglou) inks on the back of Nakos (Makis Papadimitriou) a picture of their neighborhood Amerika Square. Billy helps an endangered African singer who covers Nina Simone songs. Nakos is a xenophobe scheming to cleanse foreigners from the overcrowded square.
“Borders are business,” narrates Tarek (Vassilis Kukalani), a Syrian physician paying smugglers to get him and his young daughter from Aleppo to Berlin. “A big business that makes lots of money. Like war does.” At the world premiere of “Amerika Square” in Korea, Sakaridis called the film’s setting a “modern Casablanca” and noted the square is an outpost of the Greek fascist front known as Golden Dawn. 8:15 p.m. Oct. 22