2013 - Trilogy
Trailer for the Toronto Greek Film Retrospective
Saturday, June 22nd - Sunday, June 23, 2013
at The Music Hall (147 Danforth Ave.)
THE DRAGON OF ATHENS (1956) (O DRAKOS)
Director: Nikos Koundouros
Athens is a stark black and white city that serves as the hiding place of a lonely, little man on New Years Eve 1956. When he is mistakenly identified as The Dragon, a wanted criminal figure at large he decides to keep the notorious persona for a while. The wiry and intense Dino Iliopoulos delivers a great performance as a reluctant nobody that for a few hours rules the underworld until he is discovered.
Director Nikos Koundouros succeeded in bringing to screen a host of taboo subjects in the mid-1950's as thinly veiled political messages and post-war cynicism abound. The obvious disillusionment and bitterness of overbearing American political influence and raw feelings of the Civil War wounds are still fresh as we see the dive bar orchestra boom out BOOGIE WOOGIE songs that seem completely out of place and somehow even the men and women on the floor look disjointed and out of rhythm to the strange sounds.
This film is almost sixty years old but it holds up brilliantly in some of its' message and style. There is an especially revealing sub-plot that involves the smuggling of Ancient Greek Columns that will be heartbreaking for many.
For Greek audiences, THE DRAGON OF ATHENS (O DRAKOS in Greek) is also one of the first times legend Thanassis Veggos appears on screen. The Director Koundouros and the young Veggos were both imprisoned on the same small island prison during the Greek Civil War and began a friendship that last years.
This is one of Greece's oldest and most praised films that rarely has been exhibited in North America.
We are proud to include it in the Greek Film Retrospective's 2013 edition TRILOGY.
THE ISLAND 2 – HUNT FOR THE LOST TREASURE (2011)
Directed by Adonis Aggelopoulos
The lust for power and wealth can be a potent catalyst for the ambitious and the greedy. In this sequel to the superb 2009 hit NISOS, Producer Yannis Iakovidis delivers the a hilarious follow up that once again ruled the Greek National Box Office in 2011.
This time, it is helmed by Adonis Aggelopoulos and features the same excellent ensemble cast as the first film. THE HUNT FOR TREASURE resonates with biting realism and wit and with last years' reaction to NISSOS, we were compelled to include its' sequel. It retains all the great elements that made the original vanquish even James Cameron's AVATAR at the Greek Box Office, but do not be fooled at the stuff you read on the internet about this film being a repeat. This is a genuine storyline and craftily made film on its' own.
This film is still so embedded with great characters that it deserves we follow them to the hope or abyss their own driving nature is going to help them arrive to anyway.
A major theme in this romp is that money stands the test of time…even prison time. The men and women on the island are tested once again with moral choices, all the way until those morals dissolve.
Directed by Costa-Gavras
A cinematic landmark in the political thriller genre, Costa-Gavras Z was nominated for five Oscars and won two Academy Awards: Best Foreign Language Film and Best Film Editing. Unfortunately, the country listed was Algeria and not Greece. We will get to that further below.
Mikis Theodorakis also won the BAFTA Award for film Music and at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival Costa-Gavras won the Jury Prize.
Z is a film that straddles the line between a compelling, detective/investigative procedural, and the filmmaker Gavras' burden of shooting back at the dark regime of the Greek Generals that staged an incredibly unchallenged Military Coup in Greece in the spring of 1967. Although the film unravels in a coastal, southern nation and the characters speak in French (the film was shot in Algeria), the fictionalized scenario is that of the infamous murder of Grigorios Lambrakis. Lambrakis was a popular Greek Politician who ran the marathon for Greece, and then became a symbol of hope for the Peace Movement and Left wing in the 1960's.
Costa-Gavras would never have been able to author a film like Z in the country he was born in 1969. Many of his generation had either fled by 1967, or had been imprisoned. Gavras had already had his wings clipped thanks to the Red Scare in the 1950's America and the residue of his father's partisan military record (fighting the Nazis').
Thankfully for modern cinema, Costas-Gavras found a home in France and then embarked on a precise and purposeful mission; to attack the thugs of Greece from outside its' borders. His film became a beacon to the student movements all over the world, and in places like NYU in the early 1970's, a screening of this masterful film inspired hundreds and thousands of students, journalists, politicians and budding filmmakers to use the camera to take back some truth in that turbulent era.
Directed by Alex Damianos
In 1986, a general consensus of Film Journalists from all major publications in Greece agreed that Evdokia deserved the prestigious honor of Best Film in the History of Greek Cinema.
We are here in Toronto 27 years after that massive statement, playing a controversial film 42 years after its' inception. This is a film that deserves screen time in Toronto and warrants a solid argument from that verdict in 1986 but all the way until now in 2013.
Evdokia is a powerful film about doomed lovers trying to find sanctuary and solace during the Rein of the Colonels (1967-1974). Set near an army base in 1970, Evdokia finds her sensual existence rocked by failed promises and the austere climate of social norms and military–like conditions that have shaped her new groom. Passionate and profound in how he conveys the dangerous but incredible journey of new love at its' beginning, Director Alex Damianos portrays the heartbreak and loss of innocence with breathtaking filmmaking.
Writer/Director Alex Damianos has a certain unequivocal status as one of the most rare and profound filmmakers in European Cinema. He has only directed three films in his career, and those projects span three decades. This year at the GFR we have secured two of his heavyweight works.
THE CHARIOTEER (1996)
Directed by: Alex Damiano
Alex Damianos' THE CHARIOTEER is not for the faint of the heart, the weak in memory, or the casual of history. There is a reason it took him a quarter century to get behind the camera as a filmmaker in Greece; the results are not comforting, but impossible to ignore.
A Charioteer signals to most cultures in the world a message conveyed from one place in time to another. In this audacious work Greece is covered from the prison camps of 1941 through the early 90's in the eyes of a student. What his eyes see is a painful gaze at Greece's history since World War Two.
It is a challenging film, running over two hours and twenty minutes, but it just may contain one of the most enthralling and damning scenes of the Civil War in Greece post World War Two, where we see a proud and robust right-wing patriot caught in the crossfire of bullets and political ideologies. It is a sequence bound to haunt anyone with any grasp of Greek History from that era.
This special screening of THE CHARIOTEER may actually be the first time it has ever been exhibited in Canada as it has only played a few times in the U.S.
BURNING HEADS (2011)
Directed by Yorgos Sountas
There are two films from Greece that I personally believe were left behind when it came to International Awards, including the 33 year lapse in an Oscar Nomination for Greece for Best Foreign Film; KNIFER, and BURNING HEADS.
This year the GFR has the great honour and pleasure of screening the Canadian Premiere of BURNING HEADS, a work of true bravado from a talented young Greek Filmmaker Yorgos Siougas.
It is very hard to elaborate on this film. In one sentence it is a family drama about a Russian mother who flees to Greece in the 1980's to make a better life for her two sons. In another sense it is about the unbreakable love between a mother and her sons, and the subsequent vicious tests of brotherhood.
Burning Heads is a relentless film that treads heavy with psychological conflict even while it invested with superb bursts of dialogue between the two brothers. But ultimately it is a film that seems to pounce on the heart and mind of the viewer. Notions of guilt, righteousness and promised deliverance have tangled and weaved a desperate scenario in the characters, and the lead actors are mesmerizing.
Mother and sons offer a depth of character portrayal that is very rare.
Siougas has directed a special film that deals with devotion and sacrifice and pain mix with hope and promise. The family in BURNING HEADS will stay with you for a long time after this screening.