jump to navigation

Greek Highlights November 13, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Athens.
comments closed

Greek Highlights > Athens

When planning your next visit to Greece, include a few days to spend in Athens, the Birthplace of Democracy and the Ancient World’s Greatest Empire.

Highlights of this trip include a sightseeing on the Acropolis and the Ancient Agora of Athens. You should also explore the near-by picturesque Plaka, the Athens’s old-city and travelers’ beloved area. In Plaka you will enjoy traditional Greek food and wine at one of the so many tavernas. You will be greeted with a smiling face and extended with the Greek traditional hospitality.

While in Athens, you will be exposed to many hidden treasures of the city. Both ancient and modern. Athens is a unique metropolis combining the old with the new. The legacy of the 2004 Summer Olympic Games can be seen and felt all over the city. Modern facilities and infrastructure transformed Athens into an attracive destination.

We shall be honored to Welcome you to our city, your city! 

Planning ahead for jam-packed film festival November 13, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.
comments closed

Thessaloniki film fest with over 300 titles, many highlights. Rare takes from Wim Wenders’s films will be showcased in an exhibition.

Wim Wenders is headlining the 47th Thessaloniki International Film Festival (TIFF), which is opening on November 17 with a screening of Stephen Frears’s award-winning “The Queen” starring Helen Mirren, and closing on November 26 with the awards ceremony and a gala screening of Alain Resnais’s “Private Fears in Public Places.”

Wenders will be present for a complete retrospective of his work, appearing after screenings for Q&A sessions with the audience, and for the inauguration of an exhibition of stills from his films by his wife Donata. The acclaimed German filmmaker will also be conducting a master class with Brazil’s Walter Salles, where the two directors will be discussing road movies.

But there is a lot more in store for festival-goers this year that does not include the screening of over 300 films that make up the bill of this year’s enlarged event.

Costa Gavras will be there presenting his latest film, “Mon Colonel” which he wrote and produced and which will be screened out of competition; Chinese master filmmaker Chen Kaige will give a master class and present his “The Emperor and the Assassin” Turkey’s Nuri Bilge Ceylan, the subject of another tribute, will hold a press conference on his photography exhibition; Lili Taylor of “Casa de los Babys”, “I Shot Andy Warhol” and “Pret-a-Porter” among others, will deliver a master class on acting; screen beauties Emmanuelle Beart and Valeria Golino will present their latest films, “A Crime” and “Respiro” respectively, while Sandrine Bonnaire attends a master class on “Adapting Literature for Cinema” conducted by her husband, scriptwriter Guillaume Laurent; and Juliette Lewis, the versatile actress of modern cult films such as “Cape Fear”, “Kalifornia” and “Natural Born Killers” puts in an alternative pop appearance with her band Juliette and the Licks in a concert at the Milos nightclub on November 25.

All this aside, there will be a lot of parallel events to look out for and some complicated movie watching schedules to be drawn up as the festival embraces four theaters at the Thessaloniki Pier complex, where the headquarters of the festival are located, the two Olympion cinemas on Aristotelous Square and three additional screens at various points in the city.

The official program of the festival, drawn up by director Despina Mouzaki, comprises 14 first or second feature films by emerging directors. “This year, the International Competition section, perhaps more than ever, leans toward the adventure of narrative,” said Mouzaki at a recent press conference. “It creates a world of visual stories, which filmmakers from four continents believe they must tell at any cost.”

A new addition to the festival lineup is a section titled Focus, which this year is on “Teenage Lust/Teenage Angst” and features 12 films centered on the subject of adolescence.

Following this contemporary note, there is also a tribute on “New Cinema from China: Another View”, comprising 22 films highlighting the lesser-known aspects of mainland Chinese cinema production.

Another country that will be put in the spotlight is Brazil, with a homage composed of 18 titles including classics and more recent productions.

Film critic Lefteris Adamidis is again this year heading the Independence Days section of the festival, viewed by many as the most interesting in terms of giving guests at the festival a taste of what is happening on the ever-involving indie scene of world cinema. Featuring over 40 titles, ID 06, as the section has been dubbed, will be giving a 15,000-euro Human Values Award, sponsored by Vouli, the Greek Parliament’s television station. Last year’s recipient of the award was Gavin Hood for “Tsotsi” a film from South Africa that went on to win an Oscar for best foreign-language film.

As part of ID 06, there is also a tribute to the Czech “Alchemist of the Surreal” Jan Svankmajer, with screenings of his five features and all his short films, as well as an exhibition of his art work titled “Imaginative Eye, Imaginative Hand” which also includes several pieces created by his late wife Eva Svankmajerova. On November 20, Svankmajer and his producer, Jaromir Kallista, will hold an open discussion with the public at the Olympion’s Pavlos Zannas theater, after which he will be presented with a Golden Alexander for his contribution to cinema.

Mauritanian filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako is another of the section guests and the award-winning director will be available for questions after the screening of his latest drama “Bamako” on November 18. His 2002 film “Waiting for Happiness” was awarded the Certain Regard prize from the FIPRESCI International Film Critics’ Union Jury in Cannes.

On the Greek front, the festival annually showcases the local productions of the year. For 2006, the program brings together 18 full-length fiction films and four documentaries, as well as the short films that were awarded at the Drama Short Film Festival. (Drama is a town in Northern Greece region).

Another new feature this year, this one confined to Greek cinema, is DigitalWave. Organized by director Thanos Anastasopoulos, this competitive program is reserved for films shot with a whole gamut of modern technology ranging from mobile telephones to high-definition digital video.

The Greek program will also feature a series of films on “Immigration in Greek Cinema (1956-2006)”, which includes Alexis Damianos’s “To The Ship,” Lefteris Xanthopoulos’s documentary “The Greek Community on Heidelberg,” Alexis Grivas’s “750,000,” Constantine Yiannaris’s “From the Edge of the City” and more. Finally, there will be tributes to Greek filmmakers Stavros Tsiolis and Demos Theos.

Related Links > http://www.filmfestival.gr/index_uk.htm

A geo-park of “Petrified Nereids” November 13, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece, Greece Mainland.
comments closed

Area of natural beauty with 70,000-year-old rock pinnacles in Macedonia slated for conservation. There are a total of about 20 of these ‘chimneys,’ ranging from 3 to 6 meters high. The area is to be fenced off with facilities provided for visitors.

The valley of the “Sleepless Giants” in Western Macedonia is soon to become the region’s first geo-park, featuring the unusual geological formations known locally as “Bouharia” (or “Petrified Nereids”) at Mikrovalto in the Municipality of Kamvounia, in Kozani.

The region’s inclusion in the Regional Operational Program coincides with the results of a scientific survey by Athens University which dates the rock formation to a much earlier date than originally believed. Although more precise dating is still needed, according to officials at the University’s Economic Geology and Geochemistry Laboratory, the formation of these rock pinnacles began some 70,000 years ago. These are the only such pinnacles in Greece; others have been found in Bulgaria and the former Yugoslavia, but differ in their shape and the rock from which they were formed.

The Mikrovalto pinnacles are impressive, rare geological formations that resulted from thousands of years of soil erosion that shaped columns of soil, sand and boulders topped by slate platforms. There are about 20 of these formations, ranging from 3 to 6 meters in height, scattered among narrow watercourses and gorges on the sides of which are also found earthen stalagmites of heights of up to 10 meters, ranging over 2 kilometers.

“What impresses visitors is the material from which they are formed. The columns seem to be held up by a natural magic wand that doesn’t allow them to collapse,” said Giorgos Mastroyiannopoulos of the Mikrovalto Society.

The Bouharia (the word for “chimneys” in the local dialect) have also gone by other names, such as giants, fairies or demons, according to the prevailing legends surrounding their origins. They served as a refuge for local residents during invasions and wars such as the War of Independence and occupation during World War II. Over the past two years, the number of visitors to the Bouharia has increased dramatically; a tourism agency in Athens makes regular excursions to the site.

The geo-park budget has been set at over 300,000 euros for fencing, protection of the pinnacles from collapse and the construction of footpaths, kiosks, benches and a guardhouse. The prefecture of Kozani has approved around 500,000 euros for paving the road from the village to the park, which, according to sources, will be the first in a network of geo-parks the region is planning for tourism development across Western Macedonia.

Tatoi, one of Attica’s few lush spaces November 13, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece.
comments closed

Tatoi languishes in disrepair > Authorities have not utilized the former estate’s forest, architecture > The Tatoi estate has 40 buildings designed by leading architects but some of those structures are at risk of collapse due to abandonment.

The future of the former Royal Estate at Tatoi, one of the few extensive green areas in the heavily polluted plain of Attica, continues to be in doubt.

Although the state struggled for a decade to take possession of the 3,000-hectare estate, which it finally managed to acquire in March 2003, four years later nothing has been done with the land, which is just 25 kilometers from the center of Athens.

“The only thing done in the past four years to protect the estate has been the installation of a metal roof on one of the buildings,” said Costas Stamatopoulos, Vice President of the Hellenic Society for the Protection of the Environment and Cultural Heritage and author of the book “Chronicle of Tatoi.”

Although the estate has been included within the bounds of the Parnitha National Park and a Presidential decree from the Environment Ministry has included most of it in Protection Zone A1, the natural environment has been left to its fate.

“The area in front of the palace has turned into a real jungle,” said Stamatopoulos. “However, the forest is in need of care as it is artificial, it was not pre-existing but was planted. So if it is left alone it will be lost. That would be a shame as it is a model Mediterranean garden,” he added. There is also a risk of fire from the fallen branches and trees.

Then there are the some 40 buildings scattered among the 2,000 hectares of the park’s historic nucleus. They were designed by prominent architects and form a unique whole that is supposed to have been listed by the Culture Ministry. However, the Hellenic Society charges that many of these structures are in danger of collapsing as there has been no effort to restore or repair them.

The Society proposes that a Museum be established on the site and that it be used for events such as exhibitions under the aegis of the Academy of Athens, as well as a Center for the Environment, both natural and built, and as a concert venue on the site of the quarry. It also suggests that the estate’s farm and livestock products be used for producing organic food, and the traditional winery be re-established.

Journey through total darkness to new light November 13, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece.
comments closed

‘Frozen,’ a study of pain and resilience > Bryony Lavery’s award-winning ‘Frozen,’ now playing at the Exarchia Theater in Athens.

She reads and takes numerous good plays into consideration, but as soon as she was done with “Frozen” Anita Dekavalla immediately singled it out. The actress reads constantly and not just in search of prospective productions for the Exarchia Theater, which she stages with her longtime associate, the director Takis Vouteris.

“Our senses have been flattened. We don’t get excited as easily. Only potent material can touch us,” said Dekavalla. “When you read so many plays, most of which you’ve forgotten about a week later, the one that continues to occupy your mind makes the difference.”

Bryony Lavery’s award-winning “Frozen” now playing at the Exarchia Theater, as translated by Dekavalla, is a modern examination of the condition of pain, in 32 parts. “Its structure is advanced and it possesses strong theatrical feeling and impeccable technique by a playwright with deep knowledge of drama,” noted Dekavalla.

A psychological thriller, “Frozen” is based on the story of two women who manage to overcome worst-case scenarios. “The disappearance of a 10-year-old girl brings together three individuals from different worlds. There is the missing child’s mother, a psychiatrist who has lost her lover and a lonely serial killer,” remarked Dekavalla. “It could well be an analogy of whatever hurts us. Of course, it takes an extreme situation, such as death, the loss of a special person…”

The actress was particularly drawn to the resilience of the story’s heroines. Playing the part of Nancy, the mother, proved particularly challenging, Dekavalla admitted. “I read lots of accounts on the Internet by parents who have lost their children, material that helped me shape my role,” said Dekavalla. “At one point, the mother forgives the murderer. I didn’t know how to approach that. I initially perceived it as poetic nonsense. But the accounts of several parents, explaining how this took away the burden that had weighed them down for years, opened the way for me.” Entering and exiting such darkness on a nightly basis is not easy for the cast, let alone the theatergoers. “I look at it as a dark journey that eventually leads to light. It’s not burdensome. All of us feel the need to hear about how we can overcome things, no matter what happens in our lives,” explained Dekavalla.

The actress began her association with Vouteris, the director, back in 1976 at the Piraeus Theater, a collaboration that led them to the Exarchia Theater in 1990. “Our productions, cast members and directors are worthy, professional projects with intensity and substance… The weak point is the lack of state support… The way things have become in local theater, the only thing we dream about is continuing to exist. The government has handed out some subsidies but they don’t guarantee the future of theaters like ours.”

Exarchia Theater, 69 Themistocleous street, tel 210 3300879.

Spirited opera in Thessaloniki November 13, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Ballet Dance Opera.
comments closed

Beatrix Fodor plays Fiordiligi and Mary Ellen Nezi is Dorabella in Mozart’s ’Cosi fan Tutte,’ currently at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall.

A contemporary take on a 216-year-old masterpiece is what Thessaloniki audiences are enjoying at the city’s Concert Hall these days, as Mozart’s “Cosi fan Tutte” premiered last week. Additional performances will take place this Wednesday and Saturday.

The farce, which set late 18th century, conservative Austrian society on fire, Lorenzo da Ponte’s libretto was deemed as being degrading toward women, still holds a unique position in the world of music with its sense of humor, sharpness and passion.

Part of a trilogy which included “Le Nozze di Figaro” and “Don Giovanni” which was presented at the Arena di Verona, the Thessaloniki project is a joint production of the Thessaloniki Concert Hall, the Arena di Verona Organization, the Union of Reggio Emilia Theaters and the Thessaloniki Municipality.

“I consider the trilogy as a theater of thought, not unlike that of Shakespeare, with Mozart acting as the troupe’s manager,” said Caroline Lang, who transferred Daniele Abbado’s direction to the stage, at a recent press conference. “I chose the contemporary approach because I was looking to go behind the music and the libretto,” she noted.

In the Thessaloniki Concert Hall’s version of “Cosi fan Tutte,” the Thessaloniki Municipal Symphony Orchestra comes under the baton of Nikos Athinaios, while the Thessaloniki Choir is conducted by Mary Constantinidou. The production’s sets, costumes and lighting were developed by Gianni Carluccio.

The cast is led by Beatrix Fodor (Fiordiligi), Mary Ellen Nezi (Dorabella), Kiros Pitsalidis (Guglielmo), Stefano Ferrari (Ferrando), Theodora Baka (Despina) and Yiannis Yianissis (Don Alfonso).

At the Thessaloniki Concert Hall, 25th Martiou Street, Paralia, Thessaloniki, tel 2310 895800.

Swedish returns Acropolis sculpture November 13, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece.
comments closed

A retired Swedish gym teacher has given impetus to the campaign for the return of the Elgin Marbles by restoring to Greece a piece of sculptured marble from the Acropolis that has been in her family for 110 years.

Standing amid original Parthenon marbles in the Acropolis Museum in Athens, the former teacher, Birgit Wiger-Angner, called on the British Museum in London to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece. “They can make copies belonging to themselves,” she said.

The fragment she returned came from the Erechtheion temple on the Acropolis and was the second to be returned to Greece in recent months. In September, Heidelberg University gave back a marble heel from the Parthenon. The British Museum insists that its sculptures were legally obtained by Lord Elgin from the Ottoman authority that then governed Greece, but campaigners for restoration to Greece argue, among other reasoning, that tourists would rather see the sculptures in Athens than in London. A new state-of-the-art Acropolis Museum is currently under construction in Athens and will be ready to house the Parthenon sculptures and other artifacts next year.

Eleni Korka, Director of Classical Antiquities at the Greek Ministry of Culture, said, “I think it is really just a moral obligation to add and share in the reunification of the Parthenon marbles, which is a world monument.”