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Getting (a bit of) philosophical December 4, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Culture History Mythology, Editorial.
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Some thoughts due to the coming Christmas Season and the Christmas Spirit of Peace on Earth. Humanity, consider yourself warned!

One day out hunting in a wood, Agamemnon, king of Mycenae and commander of the Greek expedition to Troy, killed a stag and boasted he was a finer hunter than the goddess Artemis who, in retribution, held the Greek fleet windbound in the harbour of Auvlis. In return for a fair wind to carry the Greeks to Troy to avenge the abduction of Agamemnon’s sister-in-law Helen, Artemis demanded a blood sacrifice, Agamemnon’s daughter Iphigenia.

Having conquered Troy and recaptured Helen, the king returned to Mycenae, whereupon, to avenge the sacrifice of her daughter, his wife Clytemnestra savagely stabbed him to death in his bath, before butchering his concubine, Cassandra, with an axe.

Eight years later, Agamemnon’s son, Orestes, encouraged by his surviving sister, Electra, returned to avenge his father’s death by beheading his own mother and her lover, Aegisthus. To exact revenge in turn, Orestes was hunted down by his uncle Menelaus, pursued by the female furies, the Erinyes, and brought to trial before the Areopagus in Athens.

Does this sound familiar?

Conservative educationalists have got a point > we’ve still got a lot to learn from the Greek classics.

The fate of the house of Pelops, told by Homer, Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides, warns us what happens when humans get caught up in a revenge cycle. Let’s think of the possible story the Greek playwrights could spin from the struggles and wars between different nations or countries in the modern days.

Is the tragedy and pathos highlighted by heartbreaking personal loss, replaced again?

So what’s the solution, if not?

Unsurprisingly, the Greeks provide an answer > for a revenge cycle to end, an occupant of the throne needs to die in his or her bed. Only a natural death can hand a successor the legitimacy, unity, stability and time needed to build a case.

But how much time is needed? Turning a clepsydra and counting may not be a realistic solution. Time!

How much time do we need? How much time do we have?

To forgive and to be forgiven. How much time does the Christmas Spirit needs to shine its everlasting light on Earth? How much time does Peace needs to arrive, once for good, on Earth?

Do you read me? Can you answer me?

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Cypriot heads EUR 2 bln Greek island investment December 4, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Cyprus, Tourism.
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A Cyprus-based development company, Kerlengou Island Investments Plan Ltd, has bought the 12-square-kilometre island of Dhokos, in the Saronic sea off Hydra, and plans to develop a mega-project worth EUR 2 bln.

This is reportedly one of the last of more than 60 private Greek islands on sale across Greece in recent years. The nearly-deserted island previously owned by shipping magnate Petros Livanos, just as tycoon Aristotle Onassis had acquired Skorpios as his private retreat, was auctioned for EUR 180 mln and has already attracted interest from investors in Greece, Cyprus and the Middle East. It is less than two hours’ away by ferry from Pireaus and ten minutes from Hydra.

Costas Kerlengos, who runs a group of security, retail, transport and telecom companies, plans to develop tourist hotels and villages and individual properties taking advantage of recent relaxations in the Greek laws on island developments.

Dhokos only has a handful of inhabited homes, while its main bay is a natural shelter that has become a popular anchorage for many yachtsmen sailing the Aegean. A stretch of 5 sq.m. will remain undeveloped due to archaeological sites on the island, while the whole development foresees the sale of 12,000 plots starting from EUR 75,000 (CYP 44,000) per property. Kerlengos said that he has lined up a Greek architectural firm to help with the development and work should begin on the island by early 2008.

Due to the expansion of his business to Greece and realising the potential of the Aegean tourism market, Kerlengos also plans to charter a 750-passnger cruise ship next year to operate in the Greek islands.

More than 60 private Greek islands are reportedly on sale across the country, drawing the interest of domestic and foreign investors as well as international tourism groups. The owners of those small islands have realized the assets they have in hand and are rushing to make the most of them.

The 4 sq.km Skyropoula island, right next to Skyros, was said to have been recently bought for nearly 6 mln euros by one or more members of the Cypriot Haji-Ioannou family of shipowners. Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, is also the founder and Chairman of the easyGroup.

Another island proceeding with tourism investment plans is Alatas in the Pagasitikos Gulf, close to Volos in central Greece and covering a surface of 0.5 square kilometers. Greek press sources say the islet has been leased for the next 50 years by United Five Development from Cyprus, which is expected to invest more than 50 mln euros in building a major hotel unit of 900 beds with restaurants, recreation spaces, tennis courts and swimming pools.

Theater version of touted Danish film goes on stage December 4, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Stage & Theater.
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Director Aliki Danezi-Knutsen, stunned by ‘Festen’ on screen, uses powerhouse cast to tell devastating story > ‘Festen’ is now being staged at the Thiseion Theater

The Danish film “Festen” (Celebration) made a tremendous splash eight years ago because of both its subject matter, a milestone birthday party that turns into a family crisis, and unique script by the film’s director Thomas Vinterberg. A stage version hit theaters a few years later, arriving in Greece less than two months ago.

The Thiseion Theater in Athens began staging “Festen” in late October with a heavyweight cast of local actors on board. Directed by 33-year-old Aliki Danezi-Knutsen, who was born in France, raised in Cyprus and educated in New York City, it tells the story of a father’s 60th birthday party, a son’s shocking secret, and the crumbling of a seemingly happy family.

The lead actors include Constantinos Markoulakis as the revelatory son, Alexandros Mylonas as the father, Themis Bazaka as the mother, Angeliki Papathemeli as the daughter, and Yiannis Stankoglou as the other son.

“The film had devastated me, both in terms of script and theme,” said Danezi-Knutsen, who studied film and philosophy in the United States. She lived in New York City until recently, when she moved to Athens. She has also made two films and is preparing a third. Danezi-Knutsen, like other admirers of “Festen,” was taken in by the award-winning film’s story, which was woven into raw, piercing footage shot with a hand-held camera.

In the film, the family meeting that begins as a celebration steadily develops into a psychological thriller. Before long, the celebrants are sinking into emotional oblivion and the camera documents it with a devastating precision. Vinterberg saw a deep theatrical presence in his film; he had once said that cinema and stage could not have come any closer than they did in this movie. The theater world noticed this as well.

Not long after the film’s release, an English producer asked Vinterberg and “Festen” associates to prepare a version for the stage. The team’s result failed to satisfy the producer and the task was passed on to an equally young yet seasoned English playwright, David Eldridge. His adaptation of the Danish film proved a huge success in London in 2004 before it traveled to Broadway last March for more accolades. Now in Greece, the play promises more of the same power.

“It’s a story which, through the microcosm of a family, touches on numerous social and political issues with honesty and truth about what’s truly happening,” said Danezi-Knutsen.

The Thiseion Theater for the Arts is situated at 7 Tournavitou street in Psyrri, Athens. For further information on shows and tickets, call 210 3255444.

A statue December 4, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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Statue at Pappas house A statue was seen yesterday in the garden of the late sculptor Yiannis Pappas, whose house in Zografou in eastern Athens was given to the Benaki Museum by the artist’s family.

Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos inaugurated the new museum yesterday and called it a ‘sacred site and a nucleus of civilization.’ Pappas used the house as his workshop and Benaki Museum director Angelos Delivorrias said that the spirit of the sculptor’s work would be kept alive.

Revisiting the Greek 60s, again December 4, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.
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Filmmaker Costas Kapakas returns with yet another nostalgic comedy, ‘Uranya,’ out on Thursday

What will five boys living in 1969 Greece choose to buy first: a television, or lessons in love? Costas Kapakas’s ‘Uranya’ is to open at theaters on Thursday. The filmmaker’s latest production comes seven years after his box-office hit ‘Peppermint’.

Short pants, print dresses, sweet fizzy drinks on metallic tables and old box televisions create an atmosphere of nostalgia for the Greece of the 1960s in Costas Kapakas’s latest film, “Uranya”, which is due to hit mainstream theaters on Thursday. Seven years after making the box-office hit “Peppermint”, the Greek filmmaker revisits the 60s, but this time the tale is more concentrated: five boys caught between twin desires. Should they raise enough money to buy a television, or should they wander toward the home of Ourania, played by the Italian actress of “Il Postino,” Maria Grazia Cucinotta, to get a few lessons in the secret art of love?

Kapakas describes “Uranya” as a “nostalgic comedy about being a teenager, growing up and the late 1960s.”

Video Platform returns stronger December 4, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Cyprus, Arts Events Greece.
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Three years have elapsed since the first Video Platform but this year the size of the event which opened on Saturday and runs to Thursday, is so much bigger that it seems like an entirely different festival all together.

The first amateur Video Platform of 2003 was thrown together in a small apartment on central Socratous Street near the Varvakeios Market. But the event has now evolved into a vibrant pole of attraction for anything that has to do with digital film. The dynamic of the media, already a dominant force in mainstream production, and especially the popularity of digital art with young urban audiences are more or less the defining characteristics of the alternative character of the platform. In keeping with the atmosphere they want to convey, organizers have chosen the venues Bios and Nixon in Metaxourgeio to host the event this year.

The event this year has become more aggressive as it has extended the time it will run to five days and spread itself out over two large venues. In numbers, this year there will be 229 films, 78 Greek contributions, 30 guests from abroad, two competition sections and three tributes. In the three years of its existence, the Video Platform has also succeeded in building fruitful ties with other similar events in Europe and the USA, collaborations whose results will form the core of this year’s event.

The main award will be sought by 13 films, fiction, documentary and animation, from Greece and abroad, created on video or other digital technology and then transferred onto film and which are all at most 45 minutes long. A much larger number of films, of limitless themes and lengths, will be in the race for the much-coveted audience award.

Highlights of Video Platform 2006 include the “Dogma 45” tribute, inspired by the films of Lars von Trier and Danish cinema, contemporary Cypriot cinema and an applied audiovisual workshop titled “Platform in Motion,” which comprises the recording, production and presentation of a video by a group of film students.

The price of attendance is also a lure, as it is set at 5 euros a day. There is also a ticket priced at 15 euros for attendance to the entire event, while if you show a public transport ticket at the entrance up to two hours before the start of an event, you can get in for 3 euros.

Going back to school > educating the taxi drivers December 4, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Tourism, Transport Air Sea Land.
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Charm school for taxi drivers > Greek tourism seeks more polite image

Greece’s Tourism Ministry announced plans Monday to spend €1.8 million ($2.4 million) to teach taxi drivers better manners, as part of a campaign to improve services in the country’s vital tourism industry.

Taxi drivers’ behavior has been cited in consumer surveys as a source of irritation to tourists visiting Athens.

“A key pillar of support to develop the industry is the quality of services and level of tourism awareness shown by professionals,” Tourism Minister Fani Pali-Petralia said.

She said about 5,000 taxi drivers would be eligible for the program, which is due to start next year. She gave no details of what the classes would involve.