Sunday, 28 October 2012

Greek Film Festival Presents a Remarkable Program

Documentaries proved most impressive
by Nancy Snipper
The 2012 Greek Film Festival (October 25th - November 03rd) is offering an award-winning program in its fourth year to the delight of the Montreal public. Features, such as these classics - Electra, Stella, Mediterraneo and Medea, are drawing in the crowds as are new films, such as J.A.C.E., and Dos. Avra Georgiou the Director and Programmer for this successful event has selected a diverse collection of films – old and new, and the fact that documentaries are part of the program makes the festival all the more diverse and important.

Encardia, the Dancing Soul, (directed by Angelos Kovotsos) brings the ‘griko’ language back to life as a group of Greek musicians travel to Southern Italy to connect with other musicians, researchers and folk who once spoke this poetic dialect with Italian words. Griko is rooted in ancient Greek.  

The Antikythera Mechanism (directed by Mike Beckham) - another interesting documentary reveals to the world a computer designed to calculate astronomical positions 2000 years ago. By chance, fishermen had pulled it up from a wreck over 100 years ago, but it wasn’t until 1978 that its true significance was understood, thanks to the initial efforts of Jacques-Yves Cousteau who visited the wreck at that time. Kythera, the birth place of Aphrodite, and now populated by an inordinate number of Australians is a tiny little island that I once visited while living in Crete. It is enchanting and seems to hold a thousand secrets – one of which is revealed in this film (Antikythera is right near Kythera).

Engaging for all filmmakers was the film Cineastes (directed by Menelaos Karamaghiolis). This documentary gives the great filmmaker and champion for the undiscovered ones – Pierre Rissient his due. This man was responsible for not only making great films but for bringing to light the works of a young Quentin Tartantino, Abas Kiarastami, and many icons, including for Clint Eastwood. A young obsessive film student holds the camera up to these major veteran players, revealing their invaluable input, wisdom about filmmaking and the risks they all took to follow their love of film.
                                                                   Pierre Rissient

As a musician and lover of Crete, the film that grabbed my attention was Wandering Soul (directed by Angeliki Aristomenopaulo). Yiannis Angelakas, a Cretan rock musician who follows no drum but his own, works with other maverick musicians to create a new kind of sound and voice for all freedom fighters. He rejects notion of marketing, fame and selling out in favour of his gypsy-like tendencies to create spontaneously and perform where the spirit takes him. His lyrics and thoughts seem to conjure up the great philosophers of old. He is a true Cretan. One of the best scenes takes place in an old ruin where the musicians and some friends gather and huddle inside. It’s big enough to make a fire in. Until the wee hours of the night, they all sing old Cretan songs together and drink raki. Is this not how life should be?
The sounds of rembetiko, and the polyphonic haunting music of Epirus fittingly end this film as the final scene brings them all together in that small stone ruin. The music they make there echoes a way of life that is rapidly disappearing. Greece’s heroes not only reside in the pantheon of Gods.
                                                                    Yannis Angelakas

One real-life hero - a legend within this country’s historical context was Eleftherios Venizelos (1864-1936).
If you wish to understand how Greece got its freedom, you must attend this 3 hour classic, Eleftherios Venizelos:1910-1927 (directed by Pantelis Voulgaris). To this day, this iconic Greek hero remains in the hearts and minds of all Greeks. A man who sacrificed it all on behalf of his county, Venizelos is credited with being ‘The Father of Modern Greece’. No matter turmoil Greece endures, this astounding country will always rise up against the yoke of any kind of tyranny.