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Greek scientists using art paintings to study climate’s change October 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Environment, Science.
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Greek scientists study art paintings for information about global warming

Scientists at Greece’s National Observatory of Athens are using artists’ renditions of sunsets to glean information about the effects of climate change, The Guardian reports.

The team is looking at 554 works dating from 1500 to 1900 and painted by 181 artists, including Rubens, Rembrandt, Gainsborough, and Hogarth to estimate how much natural pollution was released into the skies following historical volcanic eruptions such as that of Mount Krakatoa in 1883. By studying the colors in skies painted before and after such eruptions, researchers say they can calculate how much material was in the sky at the time.

The scientists are also speaking with the Tate in London about repeating the study with 40 paintings from the 20th century in order to study the effects of pollution on sunsets since the Industrial Revolution.

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Greek painter comes to life on the big screen October 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.
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The film, “El Greco”, will be released on October 17, starring Nick Ashdon as Domenikos Theotocopoulos and late actor Sotiris Moustakas, among others.

Ever since he did “Kafavis” in 1996, director Yiannis Smaragdis has been obsessed with El Greco. This interest eventually turned into a big-budget, for Greek standards certainly, production, with Greek and Spanish subtitles. “El Greco,” a movie exploring the secret life of painter Domenikos Theotocopoulos as well as the special spirituality in his work, will be hitting mainstream theaters on October 16.

Exactly one year ago, Smaragdis was in Crete coordinating a massive, multinational cast and crew during filming at the Iraklion Exhibition Center. While his anxiety was great, so was his optimism and his sense of calm as he ran a set ringing with the sounds of Greek, English, Spanish and French.

The production then went on to Rhodes, Venice and Spain, though not to Toledo, the city in which Theotocopoulos lived the greatest and most creative part of his life. “We did a few scenes in monasteries,” says Smaragdis, “because we couldn’t get a license to film in Toledo. It has become a major tourist attraction and this is all locals are interested in. But, it has a debt of gratitude to El Greco because without him it would have been just another medieval town. Nevertheless, the Spanish participation was pivotal because they invested a lot of money and provided an artistic crew of very high standards, actors as well as other associates, such as Lala Huete, who also did the costumes for ‘Belle Epoque’ and ‘Pan’s Labyrinth.’”

Just a year later and just a couple of weeks before the premiere, Smaragdis is feeling a bit calmer about the entire project, which began as a mere idea 20 years ago. “I am happy because my dream has finally materialized. It has body and soul. Twenty years ago I did a television series and one episode was about Kazantzakis and his ‘Report to Greco.’ I did a few scenes at the writer’s tomb and without any reason whatsoever dressed up as an El Greco figure. It seems that ever since that moment I began to cultivate the idea of making a film about this fellow countryman. Ten years later, as I was finishing ‘Kavafis,’ I was sitting with Vangelis Papathanassiou, who has composed the music for ‘El Greco’, and he asked me what my next film would be about. ‘Why don’t you make a movie about Domenikos Theotocopoulos?’ he said. I told him that I really wanted to, but it was not so easy. A few years later, out of the blue, the businessman Andreas Metaxas approached me and said that if I did a film on Theotocopoulos the seed money would be provided by a group of businessmen. This funding was very important because it was enough to make a medium-budget production,” says Smaragdis.

In contrast to other artists about whom films have been made, such as Van Gogh, Picasso and Rembrandt, El Greco, for all his influence, was never seen by the public in quite the same light. “I have tried to talk about the spirit of Crete, of Greece, the spirit of the painter which has the particular Greek quality and spirituality. One of the main motivations for doing this project was that he had an especially adventurous life that translates well into dramatic action. We all know who he is, but not what he was. Another thing is that he always insisted on signing his paintings in Greek; not as El Greco, but as Domenikos Theotocopoulos and what’s more as ‘The Cretan.’ His forms were also very daring and he never joined any particular school. He defended a special kind of spirituality in his work. Add to that the element of the insubordinate Cretan and you’ll see why he is such an interesting subject for a movie.”

The screenplay, written by Smaragdis and Jackie Pavlenko, is based on the book and research of Dimitris Siatopoulos, which mentions never-before-published details of the artist’s life. The author is no longer alive and, says the director, he essentially gave him the book because he wanted to see it made into a film.

Dance and acrobatics meet music with passion October 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Ballet Dance Opera, Music Life Live Gigs, Stage & Theater.
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The renovated Badminton Theater presents its rich and varied program for the season

Moses Pendleton’s innovative company Momix is set to perform ‘Passion’ December 1 to 7, a tribute to Nikos Kazantzakis’s well-known work ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ and its big-screen version by Martin Scorsese.

Flamenco diva Cristina Hoyos’s performance with her ballet marked a powerful beginning for the Badminton Theater. The brand-new venue, which underwent further renovations over the summer, will host a string of interesting productions, ranging from musicals and modern dance acrobatics to Gypsy music and ice ballet through May next year.

Michalis Adam, Director of Adam Productions, the company behind the theater, laid out this season’s program but also talked about future plans at a press conference last week. “This is our first full season at this theater and we would like to call on all organizers, because it is open to all,” he said. The venue, which opened last winter, is the biggest theater in Greece, with 2,500 seats. It has been designed so as to cater to a variety of productions, but not large rock concerts, which Adam said are more suitable for stadiums. It has already successfully staged a number of performances, including the popular musical “Cats” and the Irish dance show “Lord of the Dance,” the latter being sold out despite the fact that it went on stage at the end of June, in the middle of a heat wave and at an indoor theater.

Adam Productions took over the Badminton Theater after winning the tender launched for Olympic venues; until then the company had been obliged to use other places, such as the Lycabettus Theater or the Athens Concert Hall, to bring shows by various artists including alternative masters the Tiger Lillies or the breathtaking Cirque Eloise. The Badminton Theater, which now boasts new facilities, will be developed further. As Adam explained, the aim is to turn it into a welcoming arts complex surrounded by trees, set in a park in the heart of Athens, and fully equipped with an additional music stage, a restaurant, an exhibition and events hall, an open-air cinema and even a children’s play area.

Following “Viaje al Sur,” a performance of traditional flamenco set to new forms by Cristina Hoyos’s Ballet Flamenco de Andalucia last week, award-winning Argentinean master of dance Julio Bocca is set to perform Thursday through October 8. Bocca will present one of his favorite productions, “Bocca Tango,” which combines ballet and tango. He will be joined by top dancer Cecilia Figaredo and his dance company Ballet Argentino as well as the Octango orchestra that will play melodies by Astor Piazzolla and Carlos Gardel. Due to high demand, an additional performance will take place on the afternoon of Sunday, October 7. The shows are part of Bocca’s farewell world tour, his future plans are to focus on his school and dance company in Buenos Aires.

Internationally acclaimed Brazilian musician, poet, filmmaker and a well-known political activist Caetano Veloso will give a concert on October 25. Veloso, one of the leaders of the 1960s Tropicalia music and visual arts movement, has released more than 40 albums and has sung in various films, including “Frida” and Pedro Almodovar’s “Hable con ella” (Talk to Her).

The Pilobolus Dance Theater, a group that stretches the abilities of the human body and challenges the laws of nature, will present five works from its large repertoire from October 29 to November 2. The company returns to Greece after its two much-discussed performances in front of a tightly packed Herod Atticus Theater back in 2003. Founded in 1971, the group continues to function as a collective, based on collaborative effort.

“Beauty and the Beast,” the first Disney musical to travel to Greece, will go on stage November 7 to 25. The highly popular musical, which is based on the well-known fairy tale, has won over more than 25 million people around the world. It will be the West End production of the show that will visit Greece, starring Matthew Cammelle as the Beast, who also did a run as the Phantom in “The Phantom of the Opera.” The production will feature a live orchestra and Greek supertitles.

Another innovative company, Momix, which has a reputation for creating shows where its dancers-illusionists play with light, shadows and acrobatics, will perform in the first week of December. “Passion,” featuring music by Peter Gabriel, is a tribute to Nikos Kazantzakis’s “Last Temptation of Christ” and its big screen version by Martin Scorsese. It is choreographed by Moses Pendleton, the group’s artistic director and founder, who was also one of the founding members of the Pilobolus Dance Theater. Momix has gained a fan base in Greece, following its past performances at the Lycabettus Theater and the Athens Concert Hall.

Switching over to music, well-known filmmaker Woody Allen will bring his clarinet skills to the stage and will perform with his New Orleans Jazz Band on December 28 and 29. In contrast to his last performance in Athens two years ago, tickets are now much more reasonably priced. More music will fill the Badminton Theater January 4 to 6, as the 100 talented musicians of the Budapest Gypsy Symphony Orchestra, led by Sandor Rigo Buffo and Joszef Csosci Lendrai, will play a varied program from well-known Gypsy melodies to compositions by Strauss, Brahms and Berlioz.

In its first appearance in Greece, Antigravity, a New York-based group consisting of gymnasts, dancers, acrobats and street jumpers, will present a breathtaking aerial show January 16 to 20. It will be followed by innovative flamenco company Fuego! which combines traditional flamenco with the latest dance tendencies, January 23 to 27.

What has been described as “Italy’s answer to the hit Cirque du Soleil,” Gaetano Triggiano’s “Tablo,” will take the stage in February. The show is a live magical mixture of illusion and drama, led by Angelo Talocci’s atmospheric music and enriched by colorful costumes.

In March, the St Petersburg State Ice Ballet will present its ice skating version of Tchaikovsky’s classic “Swan Lake,” accompanied by the City of Athens Symphony Orchestra.

The season will enjoy a powerful closure, with the highly popular musical “Mamma Mia!” May 6 to 25. Featuring timeless Abba songs and set on a Greek island, the much-loved production is currently also being filmed for the big screen, starring Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth, with some of the filming taking place on Skopelos and Skiathos islands in Greece.

Badminton Theater, Goudi Military Park, Athens, tel 211 1086086, http://www.badmintontheater.gr

Scott Jurek wins Athens-to-Sparta ultramarathon October 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Athletics.
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Scott Jurek wins Athens-to-Sparta ultramarathon race in 23:12.14 > Runner-up Piotr Kurylo of Poland, the event’s longtime leader who was overtaken late in the race by Jurek, kissed the statue of the Spartan King Leonidas after crossing the finish line in 24:29.41. Valmir Nunes of Brazil was third, more than a minute further back.

Scott Jurek of the USA won his second straight Spartathlon ultramarathon race on Saturday, clocking 23 hours, 12 minutes and 14 seconds along the 246-kilometer (152.8-mile) route from Athens to Sparta, the course first followed 2,500 years ago by the legendary messenger Pheidippides.

Jurek overtook longtime leader Piotr Kurylo in the latter stages, with the Polish runner finishing in 24:29.41. Valmir Nunes of Brazil was third, more than a minute behind.

The 33-year-old American, who is based in Seattle, was among 332 runners who started in the annual race Friday at the foot of the Acropolis. The route runs along highways, rural roads and poorly lit mountain paths before reaching the southern Greek city.

“It was tougher than last year,” Jurek said. “This time, I tried a different tactic and followed the other athletes before picking up the pace [near the end]. I took the lead and it was easier after that,” added the winner, who had clocked 22:52.13 in last year’s Spartathlon victory.

According to the ancient historian Herodotus, who recorded the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC, Pheidippides left Athens in search of reinforcement troops and arrived in Sparta “one day later.”

In 1982, John Foden of Britain sought to prove a man could complete the run and finished it in less than 36 hours, preparing the ground for the annual race.

Greek-born runner Yiannis Kouros holds the course record of 20 hours, 25 minutes, which he set in 1984, a year after the annual race began.

The Spartathlon ends at the statue of Spartan King Leonidas, who is portrayed in the 2007 movie “300.” After his win, Jurek was crowned with an olive wreath and given a bowl of water from the local Evrotas River.

Greece’s AEK FC takes clear lead in UEFA league October 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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AEK took a clear lead in the Super League after three rounds of play with a third win, 4-0 away, against Levadiakos yesterday.

New arrival Ismael Blanco, the top scorer in his native Argentina’s second division last season, struck for the fourth time in three games. Hungarian midfielder Daniel Tozser opened the scoring for AEK in the 31st minute after the home side failed to capitalize on several opportunities. Blanco strengthened the visitors’ lead six minutes later, Brazilian defender Ramos sealed the win with AEK’s third goal on 58 minutes, and Panayiotis Kone finished off the walkover 13 minutes from time.

AEK meets Salzburg in a second-leg away game this Thursday for a UEFA Cup group spot. The Athens club holds a 3-0 lead.

Panathinaikos, a 2-0 winner over visiting PAOK in one of three games played Saturday, shares second place with Xanthi and Panionios, all on seven points, two points behind AEK. Xanthi was held to a 1-1 draw at Veria, and Panionios beat host Apollon Kalamaria, 2-0.

Playing Saturday, defending champion Olympiakos drew 1-1 against Aris in Thessaloniki after the hosts’ Marco Aurelio scored an injury-time equalizer. Olympiakos, now four points behind leader AEK, had taken the lead with a Luciano Gallleti lob over Aris keeper Costas Halkias in the 38th minute. Aris piled on the pressure in the second half, forcing great saves out of Olympiakos keeper Antonis Nikopolidis, before scoring.

Newly promoted Asteras Tripoli, a rapid climber up the country’s divisions in recent years, earned the club’s first ever point in top-tier competition with a scoreless home draw yesterday against Iraklis, also on one point from three games.

Atromitos beat Larissa 2-0 at home on Saturday. OFI was scheduled to host fellow Cretan team Ergotelis later last night in the round’s final game.

This Week in Greece > Conferences and Exhibitions October 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Shows & Conferences.
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Monday

  • The Technical University of Crete is hosting the first international conference on “Hazardous Waste Management,” at the Minoa Palace Resort and Spa Hotel in Hania. To Wednesday. For information call 282100 37790 or visit > www.hwm1.tuc.gr
  • The 21st international symposium of the International Committee for Architectural Photogrammetry (CIPA) on “Anticipating the Future of the Cultural Past,” begins at Zappeion Hall. To Saturday. For information call 210 7499318 or visit > www.triaenatours.gr

Tuesday

  • The Propeller Club of the United States – Port of Piraeus hosts the 81st international conference on “Friendships across the Oceans,” at the Eugenides Foundation on Syngrou Avenue. To Friday. For details visit > www.amcham.gr

Wednesday

  • The Institute of Communication and Computer Systems hosts the fourth Intuition international conference on “Virtual Reality and Virtual Environment,” at the National Bank of Greece Training and Conference Center in Glyfada. To Thursday. For information call 210 7722398 or visit > www.intuition2007.org

Thursday

  • “Infosystem 2007” an international exhibition on “Information Technology, Telecommunications and Digital Technology,” opens at the Helexpo grounds in Thessaloniki. To Sunday. For information call 2310 291157 or visit > www.helexpo.gr 
  • The Technical Chamber of Greece is hosting an international forum on “Waterfront Cities and Sites: Tourism and Development,” at the Technical Chamber in Kavala. To Sunday. For information call 2510 224625 or visit > www.kavala-tourisme.info
  • The Piraeus Bar Association hosts an international conference on “Maritime Law,” at 9 p.m. at the conference hall of the Piraeus Port Authorities (OLP). To Saturday. For information call 210 9311004 or visit > www.dspeir.gr

Friday

  • The University of Patras is hosting a conference on “History, Philosophy and Science Teaching,” at noon at its premises. To Sunday. For information call 2610 997798 or visit > www.upatras.gr
  • The Capital Forum in cooperation with the American Hellenic Chamber of Commerce hosts a conference with keynote speaker the 42nd president of the United States of America, William Jefferson Clinton, at 5 p.m. at the Athenaeum Intercontinental Hotel. For details visit > www.amcham.gr 

Greeks beaten by Berlin gang October 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora, Police & Crime.
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Police in Germany said yesterday that they had arrested 10 men and one woman in connection with a suspected racially motivated attack on three Greeks in a suburb of Berlin early on Saturday.

The three Greeks, two men, aged 27 and 28, and a 25-year-old woman, were attacked near a gas station in the Pankow district, northeastern Berlin, by a group of 10 to 15 people who were shouting racial abuse and appeared to be drunk, according to witnesses.

The two Greek men suffered slight facial injuries in the attack and needed brief hospital treatment.

The 11 alleged assailants, aged between 17 and 20, were due to appear in court yesterday to face charges of disturbing the peace, theft and causing bodily harm. None of the accused had a previous record of racially motivated crimes.

Germany has experienced a spate of racially motivated attacks in recent months that have led to migrants from Asia, Africa and Southern Europe being attacked.