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TIFF tribute to the late movie director Nikos Nikolaidis October 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.
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Film noir focus at the Thessaloniki Film Festival > 1983’s ‘Sweet Bunch,’ is one of Nikos Nikolaidis’s most popular films. The director, who passed away last September, is the subject of a tribute in Thessaloniki.

Two signature styles in Greek cinema will be the subject of a tribute at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, November 16-25.

The first is dedicated to Nikos Nikolaidis, a cult filmmaker and writer who passed away suddenly in September, before he could see the entire retrospective which he was organizing together with the festival’s management. The tribute to Nikolaidis will feature a complete retrospective, while “Singapore Sling, “Morning Patrol,” “The Thrushes are Still Singing” and “Eurydice BA 2037” will be presented in remastered and digitally enhanced versions.

The film tribute is also accompanied by a special edition of rare material compiled by Mimis Tsakoniatis, as well as the launch of Nikolaidis’s last novel, “A Poke in the Eye of Montezuma,” which is a reminiscence on life in Greece in the 1950s and 60s.

Nikolaidis was born in Athens in 1939 and studied cinema and set design. He started working in the Greek film industry in the early 1960s and his first film was the short “Lacrime Rerum,” which participated in the Cannes Film Festival in 1964. Seven years later, the director’s idiosyncratic style became evident with his first feature film, “Eurydice BA 2037,” a philosophical comment on loneliness that became the aesthetic and thematic precursor of all his later cinematic endeavors. With “The Thrushes are Still Singing” (1979), Nikolaidis made a film that became the emblem for an entire generation, a work of intensely personal politics populated with his typical haunted heroes. Nikolaidis, whether adapting De Sade or borrowing elements from film noir, succeeded throughout his career in remaining faithful to his dark vision of the world.

His references to film noir are frequent and as such the tribute to his work can also be neatly incorporated into a broader tribute to Greek film noir, a genre that is sparsely represented in the local industry. The few Greek noir films that have been made generally tended to follow in the footsteps of their American and French predecessors, but also succeeded in holding strongly up to the comparison.

“Down Dark Paths: Film Noir in Greek Cinema” was curated by film critic Alexis Dermentzoglou and covers 46 years of output with 12 feature length and two short films, produced between 1958 and 2004.

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All eyes on troubled ballet’s newly appointed director October 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Ballet Dance Opera.
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Famed Russian dancer Irek Mukhamedov makes his debut on Sunday.

«I always tell myself that whatever happens is only for the better,» says Irek Mukhamedov, the world-renowned classical dancer who recently assumed the top artistic post at the troubled Greek National Opera Ballet.

Succeeding another prominent figure as artistic director, the Canadian classical dancer Lynn Seymour, who resigned abruptly in the summer after a one-year tenure, Mukhamedov is the latest bet being placed by the Greek ballet’s administration. Seymour had walked out declaring that her «artistic objectives could not be reached under specific working conditions» while adding that the changes she had proposed «could not be implemented in the near future».

Now 47, Mukhamedov, who continues to rank as one of the world’s most impressive classical dancers, has often declared: «I don’t want to be one of the ordinary ones. I want to be the best».

Born in Kazan, Russia, Mukhamedov trained at the Moscow Ballet School. In 1981, he won the Grand Prix at the Moscow International Ballet Competition and was recruited as the principal dancer at the Bolshoi Ballet, where he remained for nine years.

His performances in «Spartacus», «Ivan the Terrible», «Raymonda», «Romeo and Juliet» and «The Golden Age», a production choreographed just for Mukhamedov, highlighted his phenomenal talent.

In 1990, a significant year in Mukhamedov’s career, the Russian artist moved to the West to become the principle dancer at Covent Garden’s Royal Ballet. He stayed until 2001. Last year, when Seymour was appointed artist director to the Greek National Opera Ballet, Mukhamedov joined her here as an assistant and trainer. Now at the helm himself, Mukhamedov is set to stage his debut production for the National Opera Ballet this Sunday evening, as both dancer and choreographer, at the Olympia Theater. The performance will feature three ballets, «Paquita» by Marius Petipa, Jose Limon’s «The Moor’s Pavane» and August Bournonville’s «Napoli».

Greek designers turn classic accessories contemporary October 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Fashion & Style, Shopping.
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Greece is a country whose adornment tradition stretches to antiquity. Now, four of the country’s accessory designers are reflecting that rich history, and attracting clients here and abroad, through their contemporary takes on classic forms.

Whether spectacularly chunky or elegantly fine, Maria Mastori’s pieces are divided among three collections: an exclusive, often made-to-order line of precious or semiprecious stones, silver and white gold; a diffusion line featuring raw materials like driftwood; and a collection tailored to be eye-catching on the catwalk, where Mastori works with the fashion designer Filep Motwary.

“Same Time Tomorrow”, the spring/summer 2008 collection to be presented during Greek fashion week, explores environmental concerns and incorporates natural elements like satin, cotton and pearls. “With a piece of jewelry you can change your entire look,” said Mastori, who lately enjoys working with pink quartz and marble.

At Mastori, items begin at €50, or $70, and exclusive pieces start at €400. She sells in 18 outlets around the country and in Cyprus; last week she was presenting the collection at the Christine Mazza showroom in Paris.

Drama is the element that defines Dimitris Dassios’ couture-inspired jewelry and accessories. For the singer and actor who has turned a hobby into a very promising business in the last few years, creativity is expressed through vintage qualities and the patina of time.

“While the global apparel industry is at the same time chaotic and very specific, with accessories you can be unique, you can create an identity,” Dassios said. “When Greek designers manage to acquire an identity, it means that they have worked very hard – in a small and rather indifferent market which adores all things foreign. It also means that when you go abroad you are very strong.”

The new dynamic is evident: at a Milanese showroom last month, Dassios’ one-of-a-kind jean-jackets with appliqué vintage 19th-century embroideries were snatched up by the Hong Kong boutique Joyce, among other orders. Previously, jewelry pieces had made their way to Maria Luisa in Paris and to Churchill in Kansas City. Last week, Dassios presented his work at the Vendôme Luxury Trade Show in Paris.

While flirting with the baroque and the East in past seasons, Dassios’ collection for spring/summer 2008 is closer to home: Inspired by Greece, it features signature gilded, pleated metals, as well as plenty of turquoise and mother of pearl.

Now four years old, the Vassilis Zoulias Old Athens brand is known for being classic with a twist. Vassilis Zoulias’ shoes and bags are defined by their old-school elegance: Ribbons, satin, grosgrain, taffeta moiré, feathers, together with vichy cotton in summer and plaids in winter are a few favorites here.

Following a distinguished career in local fashion magazines as stylist and fashion director, Zoulias’ own design ambitions have now turned into a blossoming label, thanks to substantial financial backing from a private investor. With two free-standing boutiques, where refined surroundings go hand in hand with elaborate packaging, Zoulias is essentially recreating his obsession with the past, especially the 1950s and the 1960s. From ballerina flats to high heels with peep toes, footwear starts at €170 and special-order handbags may reach €800.

“The great difficulty in Greece lies with production, finding the right people to make things,” said Zoulias. “There are still some very good ‘hands,’ however, and as long as the product is good, clients will pay for it.” Proud of his made-in-Greece output, Zoulias says increasing interest from abroad may lead him to adopt new production patterns, although, for now, bags made in Athens are available at Jamilco in Moscow. “Call me a romantic,” said Zoulias, “but there is a factory still active, thanks to us.”

Doukas Chatzidoukas’s own take on romance has a particularly edgy feel. Established in 2003, Doukas, the brand, includes shoes, bags, costume jewelry and, as of very recently, a capsule clothes collection, all carrying the signature Chatzidoukas touch: couture techniques given a street-savvy spin.

There is plenty of leather, assortments of Swarovski crystal, from clear to opaque, as well as silk tulle, viscose and textile furniture. With all of the production done locally, the brand’s entry-level bracelets are €140 while bags may be as much as €1,200.

The designer’s resumé includes joining forces with Estée Lauder for the cosmetic giant’s Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign in Greece and Cyprus; creating a sandal sponsored by Swarovski for the 2004 Athens Olympics, currently at the Austrian crystal specialist’s Museum; and a collaboration with 10 Corso Como in Milan. Now, he is focusing his efforts on building his local wholesale network.

While there are no Doukas stores yet, Chatzidoukas’s €400 sandals, among others, are selling in 20 high-end shops around Greece. Abroad, Doukas pieces are available in Dubai and Doha. “Selling abroad is one thing, but establishing a viable, international career is quite another,” said Chatzidoukas. “While it might be easier for a French brand, given that it comes from a different fashion culture, I don’t believe that we Greeks are very much behind. Borders are now open and communication has been established. It’s a matter of talent, hard work and being at the right place.”

Athens Marathon organizers seek higher profile for classic race October 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Athletics.
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Distance running began along the fabled route from Marathon to Athens, where a messenger ran to bring news of one of the greatest military victories in ancient history.

Organizers of the modern Athens Marathon, however, conceded Wednesday that the annual Greek race remains eclipsed by world’s major marathons and announced a series promotional measures to make the classic course better known.

Ahead of Sunday’s event, marathon organizers from international races will meet at a conference, a sporting trade fair will be held this weekend, and schools along the classic route will join spectator events during the race itself.

“These events will take place every year,” Greek National Athletics Federation President Vassilis Sevastis said. “We have a long way to go, but runners are becoming convinced that the race is being now organized in a serious way. This race is special not just because of the history but also because, in Greece, it is a route along which peace rallies are held and has a broader importance.”

The Greek race traces the run of the messenger Pheidippides in 490 B.C. from the plain of Marathon to Athens, where legend says he collapsed and died after announcing the victory of the Greeks over Persian invaders. The marathon was first run as a race when the Olympics were revived as modern games in 1896 in Athens. The annual race in Athens still ends at the marble Panathenian stadium where those games were held.

The Greek course, with its steep inclines, is held on the same day each year as the New York Marathon and attracts much fewer runners. Last year, a record 38,368 runners started in New York, compared to 3,090 in Athens. About 4,100 marathon runners are registered for Sunday’s race.

Starting next year, Athens organizers are planning to change the date. Efforts to upgrade the Athens event began in 2001, when officials from the Boston Marathon visited Greece and came up with a long list of recommendations, including basic improvements like installing more water stops along the course and providing better medical services. The 2004 Olympics in Athens helped, too.

“The route was resurfaced and improved. People also watched the race on television and became aware of the history,” Sevastis said. “I don’t think we will ever be as popular as other marathons but improvements are being made steadily. This was the first year our Web site was working fully year-round and accepting applications for the race.”

African runners have dominated in Athens in recent years, and lead Sunday’s rankings. Henry Tarus of Kenya returns to defend his 2006 title, facing competition from Patrick Chumba and Steven Loruo, the winner of this year’s Hong Kong Marathon. Svetlana Ponomarenko of Russia, the winner of the 2006 Dallas Marathon, leads the women’s field, followed by Russian runner Victoria Zueva.

Related Links >
Marathon Symposium > http://aimsworldrunning.org/AIMS_Marathon_Symposium.html

Athens Marathon > http://www.athensclassicmarathon.gr

Greek festival’s 3-day run starts Friday in Peoria October 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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Baklava is but one of the pastry treats that await you at this weekend’s Taste of Greek Festival in Peoria. It’s the 20th year for the bash, held this year at St. Haralambos Church.

The koulouria (twisted cookies) are baked, the dolmades are stuffed and the lamb is roasted. You can enjoy these Greek delights and more at the Taste of Greece Food and Dance Festival. The festival, in its 20th year, runs Friday through Sunday at St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church in downtown Peoria. Organizers boast it’s the only Greek festival west of the Piestewa Freeway.

“There is a large Greek population in the West Valley, and it’s only getting bigger as the population continues to grow out here,” says Father Michael Pallad, pastor of St. Haralambos.

For its 20th anniversary, the Taste of Greece Festival has been planned as its biggest ever, featuring Greek music and dance, tours of the church to explain the icons and rituals of the Orthodox Church, and food. Lots of food; There will be thousands of cookies; hundreds of loaves of tsourekia, a braided sweet bread; dozens of legs of lamb, all available for visitors to the festival.

“There is a huge assortment,” says Stella Pagos, food chairwoman for the festival. “Food is the main attraction of the festival.” And everything, from the moussaka to the baklava, is made from scratch by members of the parish.

“We’ve been cooking for about a month already. It is a huge community effort. We have 10 to 20 people working daily down at the church to get everything ready. We started with the pastries and as we get closer we’re going to do the entrees,” Pagos says.

According to Pagos, Greek festivals started about 50 years ago in the Midwest as a way to maintain Greek heritage and traditions in America. And as anyone who has seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding knows, food is central to Greek culture.

“We’re making the sort of food you would have at your yaya’s (grandmother’s) house when the family gets together after church on Sunday.”

Taste of Greece Food & Dance Festival, 5-10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, noon-8 p.m. Sunday. St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church, 10320 N. 84th Ave., Peoria. Admission $2. Details: 623-486-8665, www.peoriagreekfest.com.

Prostitute tricked into turning tricks October 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Police & Crime.
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An off-duty border guard tricked a prostitute in Thessaloniki into offering her services free of charge in exchange for a false promise to give her police protection, authorities said yesterday.

Police said the border guard had set up a meeting with the woman over the Internet at a central Thessaloniki hotel and threatened to arrest her as part of a crackdown on illegal prostitution.

Fearing arrest, the woman met his sexual demands, only to be arrested shortly afterward as part of a real vice squad operation.

The woman informed authorities of what she thought was an agreement to avoid arrest and police tracked down the border guard. The suspect will face charges of blackmail in a Thessaloniki misdemeanors court.

ISAP interruption October 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Transport Air Sea Land.
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The operator of the Athens-Piraeus electric railway (ISAP) said yesterday that trains will not be running between Thiseion and Piraeus from 10 p.m. this Friday due to work on the network.

A replacement bus service, which passengers can use with their existing ISAP ticket, will be running instead. The railway service will resume as normal on Saturday morning.

UPDATE > 2 November 2007

ISAP suspension > Trains will not be running on the Athens-Piraeus electric railway (ISAP) between Thiseion and Piraeus from 10 p.m. today due to work on the rail network. A replacement bus service, the No 500 bus that runs between Piraeus and Kifissia, will be available instead. Passengers can use their existing ISAP ticket on the bus. More buses will also be put on Line 49 between Piraeus and Omonia. The railway service will resume as normal tomorrow morning.