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Greek singer George Dalaras named UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador October 9, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News, Music Life Greek.
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Greek singing star and musician George Dalaras was officially proclaimed a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador during a glittering ceremony earlier this week in Athens.

President Karolos Papoulias and many other dignitaries looked on Thursday night as Dalaras was presented with a certificate marking his appointment in the Congress hall of the capital’s Old Parliament building. The president later praised Dalaras and UNHCR for their work in helping refugees and urged the public to do more to support those who have lost home and homeland.

The appointment is recognition of Dalaras’ artistic achievements, humanitarian qualities and his significant contribution to the work of UNHCR over the last five years. It also marks the beginning of a partnership in UNHCR efforts to protect and assist refugees and others under the agency’s care.

“I am a little embarrassed as I consider these contributions to UNHCR self-evident as an artist and as a citizen. I accept this title not as an acknowledgement of what I have done, but as a commitment of what my family and I will continue doing,” said a visibly moved Dalaras.

The popular 57-year-old musician, whose own mother was a Greek refugee from Asia Minor, also had some advice for the many politicians attending the ceremony. He said the country “needs a responsible state policy … to tackle the acute problem of reception, care and asylum for refugees.”

He then picked up a guitar and, accompanied by a piano, played a song composed by the famous Greek composer, Mikis Theodorakis, entitled “I open the door at night.” He dedicated the performance to the world’s refugees.

Earlier in the ceremony, a recorded message of welcome from Deputy High Commissioner Wendy Chamberlin was shown as well as a five-minute video with songs performed by the artist from benefit concerts for UNHCR.

Dalaras, who has played his distinctive style of Greek folk and blues music at concerts around the world, joins UNHCR’s other Goodwill Ambassadors: Barbara Hendricks, Adel Imam, Angelina Jolie, Giorgio Armani and Julien Clerc.

He has had an impressive record of involvement with the refugee agency since playing several benefits concerts in 2001 to mark UNHCR’s 50th anniversary. One of the concerts, in the atmospheric Herod Atticus Theatre at the foot of the Acropolis, raised 230,000 euros for UNHCR programmes around the world.

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassadors use their talents and time to advocate for refugees, communicating to the general public the message of respect and solidarity with those fleeing persecution and conflict in a uniquely powerful way. They effectively use their privileged access to media and influential members of civil society to give a voice to refugees.

Dalaras has drawn up an annual plan with UNHCR for a series of activities in Greece and around the world.

‘Rigodon’ awarded best feature film at 8th independent filmfest in Athens October 9, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.
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Filipino independent filmmakers Sari Dalena and Keith Sicat won the best feature film award for their debut feature “Rigodon” in the international competition category at the eighth International Panorama of Independent Filmmakers in Athens last September 30.

“Rigodon is a beautiful film and it is my personal honor to have your film at our festival,” Panorama festival director Chionidis Panagiotis said.

The 80-minute feature, which was screened in the festival last September 28, follows the spiritual journeys of three Filipino immigrants, in post 9/11 New York City, whose lives intertwine in the age of racial profiling and government crackdowns.

Written and directed by Dalena and Sicat, “Rigodon” stars Joel Torre, Chin-Chin Gutierrez, and Arthur Acuna. The film has been getting accolades from audiences and critics since its premiere at the Montreal World Film Festival. The film has also screened at the Fribourg and Cinemanila International Film Festivals. “Rigodon” has been nominated for awards at the New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles Asian American International Film Festivals.

“Rigodon” most screened recently at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC and is set to screen at the Institute of Contemporary Art as part of the Boston Asian American Film Festival, Austin Asian Film Festival and Chicago Filipino American Film Festival on November. “Rigodon” was also invited to screen at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York on January 2007.

Another Philippine entry, Lababo (Kitchen-Sink Drama), co-directed by Seymour Barros Sanchez and Ginalyn Dulla, competed at the short narrative feature category. The initial co-production of Red Room Productions and the University of Makati Film Society, which was screened at the Panorama last September 25, covers significant dates concerning the Philippines’ relationship with the United States. Parallel to these events are the lives of two Filipinas (Nerissa Icot and Virnie Tolentino) who fall for the same American soldier (Stephen Patrick Moore).

A five-member jury chose the winners, according to the Panorama Filmmakers website, www.independent.gr. Portugal’s “Night Story,” by Victor Candeias bagged the Best Short Film Award. Other big winners were Bangladesh’s “The Peanut Seller” by Farid Shah, Best Documentary, Brazil’s “The Force” by Cristina Pinheiro, Best Video Art and Hungary’s “Maestro” by Geza M. Toth, Best Animation.

“The festival is the only one of its kind in South and Eastern Europe that allows all films to be played without censorship and control,” according to the website.

Related Links > http://www.rigodonfilm.com 

PM tours Acropolis Museum construction site October 9, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Museums, Vote For Return Greek Marbles.
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Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis visited the under-construction New Acropolis Museum on Monday morning, accompanied by Culture Minister George Voulgarakis, Organisation for the Construction of the New Acropolis Museum President Dimitris Pantermalis, Culture Ministry officials and archaeologists.

The Prime Minister was given a guided tour of both the old and the new section of the museum, while he also watched the Caryatides’ casts, marble figues of nymphs atop the Acropolis, being put in place.

The Prime Minister said that the new museum provides a very powerful argument to Greece in support of the return of the Parthenon Marbles, adding that a very important step is being made toward the realization of a vision shared by all Greeks and all of Greece’s friends around the world.

Karamanlis underlined that the new Acropolis Museum project has entered the finishing stretch, with construction slated for completion in the first half of 2007.

He said that it will be the most up-to-date archaeological museum in the world, and worthy of the Acropolis exhibits. Soon, said the Prime Minister, both Greek and foreign visitors will be able to admire up-close the archaeological treasures brought to light by excavations in the wider Acropolis area.

Greece’s marathon campaign to reclaim the 2,500-year-old Parthenon sculptures from Britain will be boosted and Greece hopes the landmark structure, purpose-built to showcase finds from the ancient Acropolis, will eventually host the collection, even as a permanent loan, despite repeated refusals from the British government and British Museum officials.

“Once the Museum is completed, Greece will have a very strong argument for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures,” Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said. “We are taking a very important step to finally realize a dream that unites all Greeks.”

The ancient marble masterpieces originally decorated the upper parts of the Parthenon, built between 447 and 432 B.C. They were removed and stolen in the early 19th century, when Greece was still under the Turkish Ottoman empire, by British diplomat Lord Elgin.

Athens argues the sprawling €129 million building will allow the sculptures to be reunited for the first time in 200 years, in a direct line of sight with their ancient home.

Initially scheduled for completion before the 2004 Athens Olympics, construction of the 20,000-sq. meter (215,000-sq. foot) glass and concrete Museum was delayed by long-running legal fights and new archaeological discoveries at the site.

The two-story building will be capped by a glass hall containing all the Parthenon sculptures in Greek possession. The glass walls will allow visitors a direct view of the ancient temple, some 300 meters (yards) away. Blank spaces will be left for the sculptures currently at the British Museum.

The 14,000-sq. meter (150,000-sq. foot) exhibition area will contain more than 4,000 works, 10 times the amount currently on display at a cramped Museum on the Acropolis. Most have never been exhibited before. Work will soon begin to move the larger sculptures from the old Museum to the new building.

The Museum was designed by U.S.-based architect Bernard Tschumi in collaboration with Greece’s Michael Photiades. It will incorporate, under a glass cover, building remains from a 3-7 century Athenian neighborhood discovered in the 1990s during preliminary work on the site.

Sparta vs Athens > The Battle for the Ancient World October 9, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Culture History Mythology.
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Sparta, a small city in the rugged mountains of southern Greece, fielded the most feared military in the ancient world. Spartan soldiers, hardened by grueling training that began at birth, never lost a battle in the bloody conflicts that raged almost constantly between the small city-states of ancient Greece. To build this remarkable army, elders in Sparta tested every newborn for weakness and deformities. Babies deemed unlikely to become strong soldiers were tossed into a gorge. For those that passed the test, training was cruel and relentless. The Greek historian and essayist Plutarch wrote that for many of the Spartan soldiers marching to battle was a relief: “For the Spartans, actual war was a holiday compared to their tough training.”

The rivalry between militaristic Sparta and its neighbor Athens dominated the history of ancient Greece. Athens, the birthplace of democracy, was a far less rigid society. Unlike Sparta, where there was little time for culture, Athens was home to some of the most extraordinary accomplishments of philosophy, art, and science in human history. The playwrights Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Euripides, and Sophocles, as well as philosophers Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates were born in Athens during the city’s golden age in the fifth century BC.

While Athens and Sparta temporarily joined forces to defeat two attempted Persian invasions, they spent much of the classical period competing for the leadership of the Hellenic world. When the cities fought, as they did repeatedly between about 550 and 350 BC, it was a clash of civilizations in the fullest sense. While Sparta’s famed soldiers held the advantage on land, Athens made up the difference with its sea power. The rivalry came to an abrupt end when Philip of Macedonia invaded from the north. The Greek city-states were swallowed up into the empire that Philip and his son, Alexander the Great, extended over much of Greece and Asia.

Additional Facts
1. Sparta was the capital of the Greek region of Laconia. The word laconic in modern English is derived from the taciturn attitude of hardened Spartan soldiers.

2. To prove their toughness, Spartan boys competed to see how much whipping they could endure.

3. Many of the buildings on the Acropolis in Athens, including the famous Parthenon, were constructed during the city’s golden age in the fifth century BC.

Proud Greeks > Did You Know? October 9, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora.
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Tarpon Springs is home to one of the largest Greek-American communities in the United States.

· The first Greek to move to Tarpon Springs was John Cocoris, who arrived in the early 1900s.

· Cocoris’ daughter was the first Greek child to be born in Tarpon Springs in 1906.

· Cocoris introduced sponge diving to Tarpon Springs in 1905 and recruited Greek sponge divers from the Dodecanese Islands, particularly Kalymnos.

· In 2002, the mayor of Kalymnos was in Tarpon Springs to sign a Sister Cities proclamation between his island and Tarpon Springs, which has a large Kalymnian population.

Compiled by News Researcher Barbara Buttleman

SOURCES: www.ahepafamily.org; www.floridahistory.org and St. Petersburg Times

Greek presence in Daytona nurtures more of the same

DAYTONA BEACH > When most people think of Volusia County, they probably conjure up images of tattooed bikers, lightning fast race car drivers and bikini-clad Spring Breakers. Odds are they’re not envisioning the Greeks who have been drawn to this area since the 1700s.

But those who know their Florida history can tell you that some of the first European settlers along the Volusia County coastline hailed from Greece and its 1,500 islands.

They can also tell you the Daytona Beach area continues to be a draw for Greeks who are enticed by plenty of sun, sultry temperatures, an ocean full of seafood, and a solid Greek Orthodox Church community.

Those are some of the main reasons Elaine and Jim Pitenis decided to call Daytona Beach home seven years ago. By 1999, Jim had retired as an executive in the graphic arts industry and Elaine had wrapped up a career as a microbiologist, including a stint at Harvard.

Without money and jobs as a consideration, the couple could choose virtually any location on the planet. This is the place that felt right. Jim said he and Elaine, both of whom are 100 percent Greek, settled on Daytona Beach for the same reasons Greeks have over the centuries.

“The sun and sea has been in their blood for 2,500 years,” said Jim, who has paintings of Greek islands throughout his home. “They were always looking for a place that looked like home.”

The Pitenis family also had a few reasons unique to them. The couple and their four children, who range in age from 10 to 16, are avid golfers who hit the links every day possible. Getting in 18 holes was a lot tougher, and more expensive, when they lived in Boston and Toronto.

Read the rest of this article > Greek presence in Daytona nurtures more of the same

Celebrated Momix meld corporeal, surreal in dance October 9, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece.
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Troupe’s leader discusses the latest production

Momix performs its final show in Athens tonight before taking its latest production, ‘Lunar Sea,’ to Thessaloniki on Wednesday and Thursday. The celebrated troupe has returned to Greece this month for the first time in three years.

Momix, the iconoclastic dance troupe from the United States, returns to Greece for a series of shows this month after a three-year absence. The athletic, gifted troupe is known for its gravity-defying, dreamy performances, during which bodies appear to fly and exotic figures flow through a story in motion.

Momix has already begun its series of sold-out performances, presenting its latest production, «Lunar Sea». The act’s third and final show in Athens is scheduled for today at the Athens Concert Hall. Momix then travels north for two performances, on Wednesday and Thursday, at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall.

Known around the world for their originality and grace, the Momix dancers are led by Moses Pendleton, a renown choreographer who founded the group in the 1980s and also choreographed the closing ceremonies of the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. Momix performers have earned a reputation for creating surrealistic imagery through the innovative use of stage props, lighting techniques, shadows, humor, and, above all, the human body.

Pendleton, a native of Vermont, was also a force in the Pilobolus dance group, which shot to fame in the 1970s, performing on Broadway and international stages. He remained firmly attached to Pilobolus as one of the group’s five artistic directors. Pendleton talked about creativity and how it inspires his work with Momix and beyond.

What inspired «Lunar Sea»?

The perfection of light, as described in [Italo] Calvino’s book «Six Essays for the New Millenium». My need to fly, to feel the experience of another type of gravity.

How do you find new ways to express yourself?

By fiddling about, improvising, and bringing new stage props, lights and costumes to the studio.

Has your work changed since the time when you first began?

I wouldn’t say that it’s changed that much. Sometimes, I create projects for other teams and later on rework them for Momix, as was the case with «Lunar Sea» which I first did with the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet team. The creative process remains the same. I depend heavily on the ideas and imaginations of the dancers I collaborate with, no matter who they are.

How does it feel returning to Greece?

I think of Greece as the home of the heroic, free, and creative body. So, as a team, we’re always happy to return. Our performance in the rain, on our previous visit to Athens, will remain unforgettable. The audience did not leave, so we danced on in the rain at the Herod Atticus. It was almost a primal experience.

What are the new plans for Momix?

In the summer that just passed, we prepared lots of material for a big show in Las Vegas. Something very botanical. A flower exhibition!

A tribute to a master of Greek cinema October 9, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.
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Action > On the set of the 185 movies produced by Finos Films

The father of Greek cinema, Philopoimin Finos, founder of the prolific Finos Films production company, is the subject of a tribute exhibition organized jointly by the company and the City of Athens to be held at the Municipal Cultural Center.

Titled “Unfurling the Finos Film Reel”, the show comprises photographs from Finos’s private and professional life, movie posters, film reviews, letters, awards and prizes, as well as personal items belonging to Finos. There will also be a series of screenings of the most memorable moments from the company’s productions.

Finos Films released its first feature film, “The Voice of the Heart” in the turbulent times of 1943, undaunted by the events of history and sociopolitical upheaval.

A true visionary, Philopoimin Finos breathed life into Greek cinema, producing inspired and imaginative movies that were highly popular. In just a few years, the company became a household name, weaning generations of Greeks off foreign cinema and prompting them to appreciate homegrown efforts.

Finos Films has produced some 185 movies that continue to be shown today. The company was responsible for launching several generations of Greek actors and for creating a uniquely Greek genre of romantic comedy and farce.

The films mirrored the social changes that were taking place in the country over the 30 years of the company’s operations, reaching out to every level of society and every age group with fun, innocent movies that poked fun at “traditional” values and challenged societal roles. Philopoimin Finos died in January 1977, without having seen the last of his company’s creations.

“Unfurling the Finos Film Reel” is on at the Athens Municipal Cultural Center, 50 Academias Street, Athens, until October 17. The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. daily except on Mondays and Sunday afternoons.