Spain, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands


When I left the island where I was born, it wasn’t a departure, it was an escape.
Years later, I arrive on another island, a barren place that feels strangely familiar. I have come here for an encounter with a man. He says he is willing to expose the violence that he carries within. But when I venture to get closer to Ernesto, a harmful and desperate man, I realize that he also holds the key to my deepest fears, echoing in the violence of my own past.
Now his story will never be separated from mine.

Director's Statement

One day a man who signed as Ernesto contacted me saying he wanted to make a film about his life.
His message said that in the problem of domestic violence, there were always two parties - the victim and the perpetrator. He was the perpetrator. I was intuitively drawn to this idea, and Ernesto and I agreed that I would make a film about his story, drawing inspiration from the autobiographical novel that he had authored. That agreement turned out to be only the pretext that allowed us to approach each other and gradually reveal the deeper motivations that attracted us to each other’s stories.
While working on this film, I found myself in a very delicate position as Ernesto's facilitator, the man who grappled with facing violence that he carried out against his family, the violence he said he had inherited from his father. At the same time, I was confronted by the struggle of my own, coming to terms with the past that I had fled two decades ago.
Like Ernesto, I too am an islander. As a woman born and raised on the Greek island of Crete, my story is vastly different from Ernesto’s, yet what we seemed to share were the memories of our fathers and patterns of violence that reigned in our families.
Suddenly, once a stranger, Ernesto became a familiar figure. Alternating between the roles of the victim and the perpetrator in the film, he reenacts scenes from his childhood, playing his mother and himself who suffered at the hands of his father. Then, in other scenes, which he directs, he is already an adult who commits violent acts against his wife.
Far from merely condemning Ernesto, I sought to draw parallels between our stories as a bridge of intimacy and understanding. This bridge is built slowly and delicately in the film, and it is left fragile, exposing our shared vulnerabilities. Through the narrative of the other, he who is most distant, I looked for answers in my own narrative, switching between the mirror and the magnifying glass. I allowed myself to lean on his recollections of violence to navigate the tumultuous waters of my own memories of it. As this project unfurled, my story became louder, intertwining with Ernesto’s, until it brought home to me that we were interdependent in the process of healing.
‘LIGHT FALLS VERTICAL’ is a film about Ernesto and his struggle with his patterns of violence and abuse.
It is also a film about his partner Juliane and her reality marked by the man’s intense presence and absence in her life. And it is, finally and mainly, a film about me and my encounter with the agonies of my past, my perished father, the silences that permeated our dialogue and the circles of violence.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Efthymia Zymvragaki

Written by: Efthymia Zymvragaki

Main Producer: Efthymia Zymvragaki, Angelo Orlando, Anna M. Bofarull, Patricia Sánchez Mora, Iris Lammertsma, Maurizio Santerelli, Valentin Thurn

Cinematography: Efthymia Zymvragaki

Editing: Tin Dirdamal

Production Design: Angelo Orlando, Anna M. Bofarull

Original Score: George Xylouris

Sound: Tin Dirdamal, Bojan Palikuca , Alejandro Castillo

Nominations and Awards

  • Documentary Selection 2023