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Author traces Greece’s war scars March 7, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life.
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A nearly forgotten chapter of the Cold War is brought to life in Niki Karavasilis’ new book, “The Abducted Greek Children of the Communists: Paidomazoma.”

The book, the Palm-Aire resident’s second, focuses on 28,000 Greek children who were abducted by communist rebels during the Greek Civil War and taken behind the Iron Curtain.

The retired professor of foreign languages returned to her birth village in Greece to research the story, personified in 12-year-old Dora, who was abducted and taken to Yugoslavia. She was torn away from her family, raped and indoctrinated to be a communist partisan. But she survived the ordeal, eventually returned to Greece and got on with her life.

Karavasilis’ first book, “Scattered Leaves”, focused more broadly on how Greek families were devastated during World War II and the subsequent Greek Civil War of 1946 to 1949. “I was so obsessed with this story because I came from the village where the abductions took place,” Karavasilis said.

But the story was a shadowy one for Karavasilis and many other Greek immigrants busy trying to make a living and raise their families in their adopted U.S. In her retirement, she finally gained the time to put her heritage in perspective. “When I’m writing, I see my dad in front of me, encouraging me,” she said.

Her search led her to interview many of the abducted children, now in their late 60s, and to research documents in the Greek Parliament and in the Library of the University of Athens, going over newspaper accounts on microfiche.

“After my research, I myself also found part of my past,” Karavasilis wrote. “My siblings and I could have been part of Paidomazoma if it weren’t for my parents’ fast decision to take us to the town of Grevena, protected by the Greek National Army.”

Paidomazoma literally means “the gathering of the children,” said Tom Adams, who edited both of Karavasilis’ books. “I think it’s a better book than the first one she wrote. It’s more a personal, more powerful story,” said Adams in a telephone interview. “It’s a tragedy. Dora’s mother held on and held and finally she died. Just a short time later the daughter got back to the village, but it was too late.”

What: Book signing for “The Abducted Greek Children of the Communists: Paidomazoma” by Niki Karavasilis, When: noon-8 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday, Where: Palm-Aire County Club, 5601 Country Club Way.

Celebrated Greek Nikos Kazantzakis in translation March 7, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life Greek, Shows & Conferences.
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Nikos Kazantzakis did a great deal of translation work in his lifetime. His novels, including ‘Zorba the Greek’ and ‘The Last Temptation of Christ,’ were also translated into many languages.

nikos_kazantzakis.jpg  Writer Nikos Kazantzakis, who was born on February 18, 1883 in Iraklion, Crete, and died of leukemia on October 26, 1957, in Freiburg, Germany, was both translated and a translator during his lifetime.

The French Institute, on the occasion of the 50-year commemoration since his death and in cooperation with the International Friends of Nikos Kazantzakis Association, the Cervantes Institute, the Italian Educational Institute in Athens, the Goethe Institute, the European Translation Center and the Nea Estia magazine, has organized an international conference from May 13 to 15 on “Nikos Kazantzakis: Translator and Translated.”

The conference is one of two events being held in memory of the celebrated and controversial writer and philosopher, aimed at shedding light on all aspects of his intellectual pursuits. Year 2007 has also been declared as Kazantzakis Year by the Greek Ministry of Culture.

Themes include Kazantzakis’s knowledge of ancient history; his translations from Ancient Greek; his translations of groundbreaking works by Henri Bergson, Friedrich Nietzsche and Charles Darwin, his translations of Goethe’s “Faust,” of Maurice Maeterlinck’s “Treasure of the Humble,” Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” and Nicolo Machiavelli’s “The Prince;” and the effect of translations on a work.

The event will also address Kazantzakis’s translations for the theater and his influence on the dramaturgy of certain plays. The final day of the conference will examine Kazantzakis translated, with talks by philologists specializing in the most important languages the Cretan writer has been translated into. The second event of the tribute will be held in October and will bring together a display and sale of his translated works, film screenings and a large roundtable discussion on “Nikos Kazantzakis, the European: Travels, Philosophy, Literature and Politics.”

At the French Institute, 31 Sina Street, Kolonaki, Athens, tel 210 3398600.

Russell Gunn mixes jazz and hip-hop with style March 7, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece.
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St Louis musician plays at the Half Note Jazz Club tonight, tomorrow

Born and raised in a tough St Louis ghetto, Russell Gunn joined rap and hip-hop bands early on, while learning how to play the trumpet. Then, at the age of 16, he discovered jazz and got absolutely hooked. Yet the musician didn’t abandon hip-hop, but sought ways to incorporate it into a kind of jazz language that was fresh, energetic and primed to an almost aggressive beat.

“Jazz chooses you, you don’t choose jazz,” he said, when asked how a hip-hop kid turned to jazz. “I was not brought up on jazz, but the minute I came face to face with its magic, I immediately fell in love. I knew instantly that I had found my own path in music.”

A composer, trumpet and flugelhorn virtuoso, according to the jazz bible Downbeat, Gunn represents the archetype of the contemporary African-American musician. How does he combine jazz with other musical genres?

“When you’re a serious student of music there is no way you can betray any kind of music because whatever you learn becomes part of your musical identity,” said Gunn. “Playing one particular style doesn’t suit me. I express myself through a variety of styles. I’m not bothered with what’s in fashion, only what satisfies me as an artist.”

LL Cool J was Gunn’s first idol, before Miles Davis worked his magic on him.

“Both have this incredible power,” Gunn said. “They play completely different things, but it doesn’t matter at all. What they do is genuine and strong, and that’s exactly what I’m after in music. I have, nevertheless, been influenced by musicians such as Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, Louis Armstrong and Booker Little.”

Gunn’s claim to wider fame is “Ethnomusicology,” a work-in-progresss.

“My main aim here is to combine as many pan-African rhythms as possible with harmony and the language of jazz. It looks like they don’t fit with each other, but I have proved that they may be combined,” Gunn said.

The 35-year-old trumpet soloist is currently in Athens, at the Half Note Jazz Club, 17 Trivonianou Street, Mets, Athens, tel 210 9213310 until tomorrow night, interpreting works from various albums, including “Krunk Jazz” and “Russell Gunn Plays Miles.”

Art on ‘Codes and Structures’ March 7, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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An exhibition on the work of Constantin Xenakis explores the artist’s interest in language

To find oneself in a country where one does not speak or understand the language spoken can be quite an alienating experience. On such an occasion, language, that indispensable tool that orders our world and enables communication, loses its function. Words transform from signifiers to mere sounds.

Words do not have the same meaning for everybody. Semiotic theory has shown that meaning is not always fixed but dependent on shared knowledge, interpretations and the structural relations within language itself.

The evasive and slippery aspect of language, both written and visual, has been one of the most persistent themes in the work of the distinguished artist Constantin Xenakis (1931-), one of the most prominent Greek artists of the Greek diaspora.

«Structures + Codes» an exhibition of his work on display at the Herakleidon, Experience in Visual Arts Museum, unites some of the artist’s most representative works from the 1960s to the present on the basis of that recurring concept. It shows the various ways in which the artist has explored how languages, including the jargon used in technology and science, are structured and communication is built.

Back in the 1960s, Xenakis, a young artist who had settled in Paris then, realized that specialization and the fragmentation of knowledge had created different languages and jargons. The linguistic multiplicity had, according to the artist, spread confusion and created segregation. Xenakis wrote that the «overproduction of idioms and messages» had created «chaos» and placed himself in the role of a «semiologist» trying to record and make sense of the disorder.

Influenced by semiotics and linguistic theory, Xenakis soon started painting abstract signs and combining codes in patterns and geometric shapes. Script is prevalent in his work and in several paintings from the early 1970s the use of vertical structures allude to the columns on a newspaper page. Bright colors and unusual chromatic juxtapositions bestow a decorative aspect upon the geometrically defined structures and supplement the intellectual content of his work with a more direct and sensory effect. Resembling a microcosm of visual signs, his paintings suggest order and chaos at once.

Painted with extraordinary precision, stenciling has been used in most works, these miniscule signs are replicated one after the other in symmetrical rows as if by a machine. In parts of the composition the signs become so crowded that they create areas of blackness. Symmetry and order are interrupted. The artist describes these black areas as the noise that is produced when many people talk simultaneously. It is a metaphor for the confusion that the lack of communication creates and for the ways in which words or signs become divested from their original meaning and isolated from their referent.

Codes and languages are also how history comes down to us. The work of Xenakis is filled with allusions to the past and in many cases uses codes that resemble hieroglyphics. «The Book of Life, Chapter 2: Alexander the Great and Me» an installation that was presented in the context of the Thessaloniki Cultural Capital of Europe events in 1997, was, for example, inspired by the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

Yet, it was not ancient languages but the mundane world of street signs that first threw Xenakis into his study of language and meaning. Traffic cones became the artist’s tool in a series of his installations, «electro-kinetic» art constructions and performances from the late 1960s. A version of one of those constructions is included in the Athens exhibition. Presented in a dark room, fluorescent traffic cones and other stereometric forms revolve around their axis and against an upright sheet of corrugated metal. The viewer’s gaze moves back and forth from the real object to its distorted reflection that is projected on the metal’s surface. By turning a functional object, the cone, into spectacle and illusion, the mirror reflections, Xenakis alludes to shifting meanings.

Drawing upon a huge range of languages and signs, Xenakis builds his own language, a language of visual codes and structures in the model of letters and syntax. During this current «age of information» his work becomes an apt reflection of contemporary reality.

Constantin Xenakis’s interest in different languages largely stems from his experiences living in various countries. Born in Cairo in 1931, he left Egypt when he was 21 and went to Paris to study architecture, interior design and painting. In the early 1960s Xenakis began to participate in large exhibitions, among them the «Lumiere et Mouvement: Art Cinetique a Paris» which was curated by Frank Popper at the City Museum of Modern Art in Paris.

In the early 1970s, Xenakis left for Berlin on a grant. An artist who has participated in exhibitions all over the world, Xenakis lives in Paris and is an artist of the Greek diaspora, but has been spending more time in Greece since 1996.

A poet as well as an artist, Xenakis has expressed his thoughts on art in writing. Phrases from his writings are included in the bilingual catalog produced on the occasion of the current Athens exhibition.

«A work of art is a monologue that calls for a dialogue,» he writes. And, elsewhere, «A painting void of reflection is a frame without a painting.»

«Structures + Codes» at the Herakleidon, Experience in Visual Arts Museum, 16 Herakleidon Street, Theission, Athens, tel 210 3461981, through April 7.

Mamma Mia! > Brosnan to sing in Mamma Mia! March 7, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life.
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Pierce Brosnan is to star opposite Meryl Streep, and sing, in the big screen adaptation of ‘Mamma Mia!’.

The musical, which features Abba songs, tells the story of a bride-to-be who was raised by her single mother, role played by Meryl Streep. The daughter invites three men who might be her father to her wedding in Greece and chaos ensues.

Variety reports that Brosnan will play Sam in the film, one of the three men. Commenting on joining the film, Brosnan said: “I said yes right away because it meant working with Meryl Streep.” And he continued: “Secondly, I saw the show with my family in London, and found it just so wonderfully happy and joyful, and so pitched in time forever in the 1970s. What a kick in the pants, to be able to go off and spend time with Meryl on some Greek island, singing ABBA songs.”

The film begins shooting on 25 June in London and Greece.

Phyllida Lloyd, who directed the original musical in London and on Broadway, will make her feature directing debut with the film.

Greece is the word > 300 Spartanism March 7, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life, Movies Life Greek.
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So here it is, the first must-see movie of the year. Tomorrow it’s the big night in Greece. It’s the worldwide first!

But that’s the thing about those kinds of films, they aren’t must-see universally. 300, the new adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel about the 2,500-year-old battle of Thermopylae, is a gore-strewn, sand-and-sandals epic that will appeal to a segment of the universal population while running completely counter to the tastes of others. It’s the latest and greatest exercise in style over substance, an ultra-violent history lesson and absolutely on the must-see list of anyone who digs action or historical films.

But is it for you? Ask yourself. Are you the sort who says, “I want to see something intelligent and thought-provoking tonight. Nothing too violent.” That’s reasonable, but 300 will turn your stomach. If, on the other hand, you say, “Dude, pass the dutchie,” then line on up. Visually, you’ve never seen anything like this. The dialogue? Not so good. But you don’t go see 300 for the dialogue. You go for the stabbings. The many, many stabbings.

This movie is skin deep, it’s all about looks, but man, does it look good. Shot entirely in front of blue and green screens, every single frame looks like it’s been cut directly from its graphic-novel roots, though it looks nothing whatsoever like its big brother, Sin City.Many of the battle scenes, accompanied by seriously grungy metal, are awe-inspiring white-knucklers. The violence is relentless, and gallons of digital blood are sprayed everywhere as spears are thrust, swords are swung, limbs are hacked off, arrows slam into shields and bodies and traitors get their well-deserved guttings. You just wish that when characters start talking, they’d stop.

Oh, yes, the story. In about 480 B.C., King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) defies his city-state’s law and takes a small army of 300 Spartan warriorsto fend off a massive Persian invasion, led by the freakish manchild, godking Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). Leonidas leaves behind his wife, Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey), who squares off against a nasty politician (Dominic West) who would rather get Sparta for himself than send in the cavalry to back Leonidas’ play.

Basic rule of Ancient Greek thumb > Don’t mess with the Spartans. They’ll fuck you up. Seriously. Trained from birth to be kick-ass ultimate fighting champions, these are the sorts of dudes who believe in killing the messenger, who will happily slaughter you and all your Persian buddies, build an immense wall with your corpses and then knock it over your yet-to-be-slain compatriots. All buffed up and slathered with oil, olive, presumably, the 300 Spartansfight armies, elephants, ogres, mutant ninjas, rhinos and all sorts of weird nasties, killing everyone and everything and enjoying themselves immensely. Butler is particularly fun as Leonidas, all hefty violence, blustery pep talks and stoic Spartanism. When he announces to his fighters, “Tonight, we dine in hell!” you figure he’s got a place in mind.

The picture is directed by Zack Snyder,who last helmed the wickedly fun 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake. He’s outdone himself here, because, again, you’ve never seen anything that looked remotely like this. But that much style has its issues, the sexy bits look like softcore Calvin Klein shoots, and the entire thing could be the greatest music video ever shot.

There are some messages in 300, all of which have appeared on shirts found in Army surplus stores. You know the type > Freedom isn’t free, politicians are corrupt chickenhawks, support the troops, take no prisoners, kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out. There’s your substance.

So, yes, it’s exciting and visually impressive, but it’s not for everyone. Love action, violence, crazy high-end FX? Go see this baby on screen. But if all that, along with cheesy dialogue and over-the-top stabbings, doesn’t entice you, save your ducats, because 300 will just be Greek to you.

Oh, and leave behind any scenes you admired in Troy, Alexander the Great, The Gladiator, Spartacus or any other similar fiction film. Nothing’s compared to this, as Sinead O’Connor would probably sing!

300 > Worldwide First March 7, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life, Movies Life Greek.
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Hollywood’s 300 are making their Worldwide First Appearance in Greece!

On March 8, 2007!

Worldwide Premiere! At an Athens Village Cinema near you! Be here!

Related Links > http://www.villagecinemas.gr/index.asp?a_id=1