Could award-winning Australian-Greek director Kosta Nikas’ narrative short UTOPIA be the most pirated short film in the world?
There was a mad rush of netizens to translate and subtitle it into their own language; a phenomenon generally observed for feature films, not for short films!
Filmed in 2016 and released in 2019, Utopia was officially selected by Omeleto, one of the biggest platforms in the world, for its online world premiere in March 2021 where a year later, in March 2022, it recorded almost a million views.
Home to the next generation of great filmmakers: Sundance winners, Oscar nominees, and critically acclaimed filmmakers of all genres; Omeleto has over 5 million followers on its social media platforms, with tens of millions of viewers monthly.
“After completing our international festival circuit, we were pleasantly surprised by his selection of Omeleto and have happily signed a deal to share it online with moviegoers around the world,” said writer-director Kosta Nikas.
‘Utopia’ won two international awards – Best International Narrative Short at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival and Best Short Film (Comedy) at the Toronto Shorts International Film Festival, which also screened at the Athens International Film Festival, in Greece, while also receiving an Orpheus Award nomination for Best Short Film at the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival.
The award-winning film also received an invitation from the prestigious UTOPIAL science fiction festival in France as one of the 35 best science fiction short films for its 2020 programming.
“Utopia constructs a compelling world that seems steps away from our phone-saturated society, telling its cautionary tale in an ironically casual way,reads a statement from Omeleto.
But the 878,065 official views it has recorded Youtube are only half the story. It is estimated that the total number of views to date is closer to 2 million, after an army of netizens started pirating the film, adding subtitles in their own language and sharing it on all kinds Facebook and social media groups and platforms.
“It is an incredible phenomenon to observe. Embarrassing but flattering at the same time. I don’t mind if they “steal” it; after all, we make movies so people can watch them,Nikas said.People actually spend time, money and resources to dub or add subtitles in their own language and then distribute them.adds the filmmaker.
Utopia has been pirated in French, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Serbian, Russian, Croatian, Romanian to name a few, a rare phenomenon in the short film business but rather something you see with feature films.
“I think it touched people because of the timing of the pandemic, even though I shot it in 2016; completed exactly one year before the covid-19 outbreak.adds writer-director Kosta Nikas.
Interestingly, Utopia was published as an educational resource on the website of the prestigious Times Educational Supplement that connects to 13 million teachers worldwide.
Unlike other dystopian stories where the government is “Big Brother” engaging in control and power via a vertical hierarchical relationship with its citizens, Nikas explored a “horizontal” relationship, i.e. citizen – against citizen.
“Today, thanks to mobile technology, WE are each other’s “Big Brother”, surveillance and snitches of each other!” explains Nikas.
“In ‘Utopia’, I go one step further by showing that citizens are incentivized to be complicit with the state, through a commission payment system. It’s a much more dangerous society, where we are our own enemy.
“You can fight an outside enemy, but how do you fight yourself?”
Meanwhile, Nikas has just wrapped filming another narrative short, again inspired by the past two years of the pandemic, titled BORDELLO, which he hopes will have the same public appeal as Utopia.
Currently, BORDELLO makes the circuit of international film festivals.
UTOPIA: Audience of some of the pirated copies*:
French pirated copy: 502,000
Portuguese pirated copy: 27,252
Greek pirated copy 1:225,000
Greek pirated copy 2: 13,000
*Greek City Times will not publish the links of the pirated version of the film. We encourage viewers to visit the official Omeleto channel on youtube: