Nia on Vacation

: Narrative Feature
GENRE: Drama
STATUS: Completed


A depressed twenty-something receives a one-way ticket to freedom. Will she discover paradise, or is escape relative?


Nia is a native New Yorker about to graduate college. Her brother Peter is a native Greek she hardly remembers. The plane ticket he sends her will be a much needed escape from her reality - and a window into his.


I have always been compelled by stories about the underrepresented: the underachievers and the unprivileged. I want to normalize stories of how inherently weird—fascinating—even the least remarkable of us are. I’m not interested in heroes who change the world. I’m interested in the way life goes on, in spite of us, and how we are changed.

My screenplays vary greatly in the way of plot, genre and style; the unifying thread is character. Specifically, characters whose goals—if they can even identify them—don’t lend themselves to archetypal narratives. Ambivalence is a key element of Nia on Vacation.

When I was fourteen I visited my father in Greece. I hadn’t seen him since his deportation nearly ten years earlier. Upon returning to New York, when asked if I had enjoyed myself, my answer was always “well…yes and no.” I struggled to explain having been to paradise while at the same time having experienced a kind of hell. My family wasn't in the best shape.

Ambivalence—yes and no. To do my experience justice, I set out to write a simple story exploring the complex emotional implications of ambivalence. The finished film had to visually and audibly reflect the tone of the script, so we shot it cleanly with an unbiased camera. I didn’t want to force opinions on my audience. No character was lit or framed any differently than the next. The experience of those characters, however, needed to be rendered differently as their time together passed.

Because I am someone who often finds life’s hardships to be the source of life’s best comedy, I chose to shoot some of Nia and Peter’s roughest days in ultra wide, long shots. The first of their fights is covered from multiple angles, but by the third fight we have just one long, wide shot: history repeating itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. Musical scoring is another subtle indicator to the audience that it is ok to laugh in these scenes, even if it seems inappropriate to do so. Editing and color correction help set the pacing and tone. With a film as subtle as Nia on Vacation, every tool at a filmmaker’s disposal is crucial in conveying the emotional arc.

We have only a brief time with Nia. Audiences may wonder about her past and worry for her future; I want them only to share her experience. I want them to feel the rush of the wind, the warmth of the sun and viscerally, the pain of loneliness. Nia on Vacation should make people laugh, perhaps self consciously. It’s a funny expectation that we have, that life--and films--should come to tidy conclusions. This film aims to challenge that expectation. 


Cat Papadimitriou - Writer/Director/Producer/Editor

Cat is a Bronx born, Brooklyn based filmmaker. She majored in fine arts at Laguardia High School for Music and Art and later attended the School of Visual Arts as a screenwriting major.

Nia on Vacation is Cat’s directorial debut, the first of several feature length films she wrote to produce. Her upbringing and prior film experience have helped her write films within her means, and her lifelong obsession with cinema has provided no alternative course.

Prior credits include the short film Fire In Our Hearts, currently streaming on PBS, and an untitled followup, currently in post production.

Elizabeth Casinelli - Director of Photography

Elizabeth has lived and worked in New York City for the majority of her adult life, learning the craft of cinematography by working as a lighting technician and camera assistant for over ten years.

Nia on Vacation is her debut feature as DP. Previous credits include Finding Julia, Now You See Me, and the hit series Smash, as first AC and Digital Imaging Technician.

Chris Haddix - Producer

Hailing from California with a background in Philosophy, Chris was one of the original crew-members of Nia On Vacation. He was one of the first readers of the script, a key fundraiser in our Seed&Spark campaign and is the other half of Yes & No Pictures.

Nia on Vacation is his first film venture, but surely not his last.

Zabela Chaviara - Line Producer/Assistant Director

 Zabela was born and raised on the island of Chios, Greece, and has worked as an AD and Line Producer since graduating from the SAE Institute in Athens. 

Zabela now ADs and Produces for Marni Films, an Athens based production company. Nia On Vacation was her first feature film. Other credits include Akriliko and The Penal Colony.



Connect With The Filmmakers:


The Gotham Film & Media Institute - Fiscal Sponsorship Program 2024
Individual Artists Grant from the NYSCA, awarded 2018


Help promote my fundraising campaign
Put our donation widget on your website

Get Widget Code



The Gotham Logo


© 2024 The Gotham. All Rights Reserved.
   Design by Andrew Martin

The Gotham Film & Media Institute is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to finding, developing and celebrating the people and projects that shape the future of story.

Learn more about us or become a member