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Acropolis move > the transfer of the century October 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Arts Museums.
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Transfer of artifacts begins tomorrow > The transfer of antiquities from the old Acropolis to the new Acropolis Museum is set to begin tomorrow in an operation involving three giant cranes that will be used to transport thousands of artifacts. The museum is expected to be fully open to the public by the end of next year.

acropolis_move1.jpg  Ancient masterpieces moving houses. Some stress, others moan as controversial new Acropolis Museum enters final stretch for phased opening starting next year

It’s amply lit, spacious and brand new. But its greatest asset will be over two-and-a-half millennia old. The glass-and-marble purpose-built Acropolis Museum will tomorrow welcome the first of over 4,000 ancient treasures currently waiting in its cramped precursor on the hilltop in the heart of the city.

acropolis_move2.jpg  Following a successful dress rehearsal in front of dozens of anxious pairs of eyes earlier this week, a team of experts is ready to transfer a 2.5-ton marble sculpture, part of a frieze depicting a religious procession honoring Athena, the divine guardian of the ancient city.

Officials certainly hope they have the gods, as well as the weather, on their side. Save some heavy rain and strong winds or some technical snag, the transplant should be completed in six weeks’ time. Costs will hover at 1.6 million euros ($2.2 million), while the priceless antiquities have been insured for 400 million euros ($566 million). The artifacts will be ferried by a crane relay in what will be a meticulous and delicate process. Three 50-meter-tall cranes have been installed between the ancient temple and the new museum. Archaeologists and engineers will hold their breath as the carefully packed masterpieces will soar over the 5th century BC Theater of Dionysos before landing at their new home, which will open its doors in stages, beginning next year.

The modern structure looks like a big spaceship parked on top of the crammed Makriyianni district. Designed by the US-based Bernard Tschumi, it is one of the rare examples of monumental architecture in Greece. And, like most big architecture, it has not been without controversy. Even before the design emerged, there were doubts about the selected spot. The truth is that the decision to have a museum facing the ancient monument came with a hefty price. The building seems to be struggling for space, squeezed as it is within a sea of ugly concrete apartment buildings spread along the southern foot of the hill, as well as the heritage-listed Weiler Building.

Some blocks of flats were actually razed to make room for the gigantic newcomer, often prompting charges of dubious expropriation procedures from the exiled inhabitants. But no issue stirs greater controversy than the planned demolition of two listed buildings next to the entrance of the new Museum, a 1930s art deco structure and a neoclassic house, the property of Oscar-winning composer Vangelis Papathanassiou. The two buildings block the view to the Parthenon from the lower floors of the new Museum and the government insists that they must come down.

But most architects, with a majority of people apparently on their side, are campaigning to save the buildings. Some officials have suggested they may eventually try to preserve the facades and reconstruct the buildings elsewhere. «Demolishing them is unacceptable,» said Stella Ladi, who rents a flat near the site. «A tourist will visit the Museum and perhaps drink a coffee overlooking the Acropolis once in their lifetime. But the locals walk up Aeropagitou Street and see the houses every day.»

Critics say the Museum is too modern and out of tune with the trademark classical style of its impending collection. «The building doesn’t suit its surroundings. It’s ugly, out of place and extremely anti-ecological,» said Christina Karanatsi, who lives in the neighborhood. She fears that the the extensive glass surface implies a power-hungry building that will have a dire impact on the microclimate of the area.

The renowned architect has rejected criticism, at least the aesthetic side of it. «Some people have said it is disrespectful to the Parthenon not to have Doric columns, but I am not interested in imitating the Parthenon,» Tschumi has said, adding that his aim was for modern architecture to match its perfection in its own way.

Others say it’s a beautiful building, expressing the view that the customarily skeptical public will eventually come to embrace the museum. «Greeks are always like that. They never like anything new. But with time, the design will grow on them. I personally think it’s a great building,» said a worker at the site.

acropolis_move3.jpg  Only a few people have had a chance to check out the interior, but those who have agree it is imposing and aesthetically pleasing. Its 20,000 square meters (215,000 square feet) are spread over three levels. The ground floor hovers above the archaeological remains of the ancient neighborhood unearthed during construction. Extensive use of glass flooring incorporates the finds into the museum structure in a near-dizzying effect. The ground level is set to host temporary exhibitions and artifacts retrieved from the surrounding area. The first floor will host the Archaic and Roman galleries, while a bar and restaurant with a great view of the Acropolis will serve visitors on the mezzanine.

The most hyped hall of the museum however is the Parthenon Gallery, sitting on top of the building. A rectangular glass gallery will showcase the temple’s marbles, replicating their exact size and orientation. Visitors will get to see the items as they originally appeared.

But not all of them will be here. Copies of the friezes will be on display behind a symbolic, transparent veil in the place of those showcased at the British Museum in London. The artifacts, also known as the Parthenon Marbles, were removed in the early 19th century by the Scottish diplomat Lord Elgin when Greece was still under Ottoman occupation. Persistent calls for their repatriation since the early 1980s have fallen on deaf ears. Officials hope that the new Museum will help heighten the pressure on Britain to return the marbles, as one of the central arguments for their keeping them hostage, namely superior exposure, has been put to rest. «We are all obliged to intensify our efforts for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum because only then will we have fulfilled our historic duty,» Culture Minister Michalis Liapis said after the test run.


Greek-Canadian actress Nia Vardalos filming in Greece October 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life, Movies Life Greek.
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nia_vardalos3.jpg  Greek-Canadian actress Nia Vardalos reads over her lines during a break in filming ‘My Life in Ruins’ in Ancient Olympia. The film will also feature scenes on the Acropolis. It is the first time a foreign film studio has received permission to film on the Acropolis ancient site.

Actress Nia Vardalos talked to reporters about the upcoming romantic comedy ‘My Life in Ruins’ at the Acropolis Sacred Hill in Athens, on Saturday, October 13, 2007. The Canadian-born star of ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ was granted a rare permission by Greek authorities to film on the Acropolis and other ancient sites in Greece. Vardalos has already filmed at Delphi and Ancient Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic Games.

nia_vardalos2.jpg  Nia Vardalos, star of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” stood under a big reflector on Saturday, filming a new romantic comedy among the dramatic ruins on the Acropolis.

The scene will appear in “My Life in Ruins,” also starring Richard Dreyfuss, and follows a decision by Greek authorities to relax their ban on any commercial use of ancient sites. Authorities vetted the script for historical accuracy and convened a panel of senior archaeologists to give final approval.

“Imagine how I feel being here shooting a movie … I can’t believe things like this can happen to me,” Vardalos said late Friday before the Acropolis shoot.

Released in 2002, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” was a surprise international hit and earned Vardalos an Oscar writing nomination.

nia_vardalos1.jpg  On Saturday, dozens of tourists gathered round a tiny set to take pictures of Vardalos. The 45-year-old Canadian actress plays a tour guide and has already been filmed at Delphi and Ancient Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic Games, a big deal for a girl brought up Greek.

Director Donald Petrie denied suggestions the script was watered down to secure access to ancient sites, saying restrictions to protect monuments were obvious. “If the script had had a paintball war in ancient Olympia, I think they would have said no,” he said. “The only major restriction for us is that we treat the sites as they are. We don’t bring in fake Roman columns,” he said, smiling.

The love interest for the film is Alexis Georgoulis, an actor in a local television series. “It’s a romantic comedy, and we wanted a Greek actor who was experienced but not necessarily well known internationally,” Vardalos said. “We found Alexis Georgoulis. He’s a great kisser, a great actor and a great guy.”

Dreyfuss said he had always wanted to come to Greece and was enjoying his time here. “This movie is about the ever present possibility of love,” Dreyfuss said.

“My Life in Ruins” is the first major project helped by the Hellenic Film Commission, recently created by Greece’s Culture Ministry to lure international filmmakers to Greece. “My Life in Ruins,” was co-written by Nia Vardalos and is due for release next year.

Related Links > Hellenic Film Commission > http://www.hfco.gr

‘Migration in Greek Cinema: 1956-2006’ to be screened at Yale, Chicago and Toronto October 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Americas, Movies Life, Movies Life Greek.
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‘The Marbles’ by Alexis Bisticas, to be shown at Yale, Chicago and Toronto with the emblematic ‘As Far as the Boat’ by Alexis Damianos.

The Greek Parliament and the Thessaloniki Film Festival (TFF) are jointly sending abroad the tribute “Migration in Greek Cinema: 1956-2006,” which was made in collaboration with the Greek Film Center.

One major stop will be at Yale, from October 18-21, where TFF Director Despina Mouzaki is giving a lecture on migration to a conference of the Modern Greek Studies Association. The first screening was at Oxford in June.

Next it goes to Chicago, opening October 16, followed by Toronto, October 24-28.

the_marbles_film.jpg  Among the films in the tribute is “The Marbles”, the first short film by Alexis Bisticas (1964-1995), dedicated to Melina Mercouri, on the return of the Parthenon sculptures to the Acropolis Museum. It was prophetic, as the new Acropolis Museum is now ready. When he made the film, which won an award at the Drama Film Festival in 1989 when the director was 25, international opinion was indifferent to the subject, but has since turned in favor of returning the Parthenon marbles.

The other films in the tribute are “Grammata apo tin Ameriki” (Letters from America) by Lakis Papastathis and “Mechri to ploio” (As Far as the Boat) by Alexis Damianos. It is an honor to the filmmaker who died before his time that his film is being screened first.

Related Links > http://www.gfc.gr and http://www.filmfestival.gr

Stroll around and learn about Athen’s National Gardens October 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Museums, Greece Athens.
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Friends of The Goulandris Natural History Museum

In their year devoted to the parks and gardens of Attica, the Friends of the Goulandris Museum of Natural History have included a trip to the National Gardens. Meet them on Sunday, October 14, at 9.30 a.m. at the Kifissia station of the ISAP electric railway for the trip to the Syntagma metro station.

The idea is to get to know the Athens National Gardens. The first of their type in the modern Greek state, they were established in 1840 by Queen Amalia as a garden for the Palace that later became the home of the Greek Parliament. In 1923 the Royal Garden was renamed the National Gardens and was opened to the public.

Much of the vegetation, like the 200-year-old Washingtonias at the entrance, has been imported, but there are also many Greek plants. The water for the garden comes from the aqueduct of Peisistratus, which has been in operation since antiquity. Architect Elisavet Bariani will talk about that and much more during the guided tour of the gardens, which will be followed by a meal at the Benaki Museum restaurant.

For bookings call 210 8083289 and 210 8015870.

Related Links > http://www.gnhm.gr

The Eleni Vlachou Prize for Journalism awards October 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Media Radio TV.
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This year the Eleni Vlachou Greek-German Prize for Journalism goes to Costas Argyros, formerly Greek daily Kathimerini’s correspondent in Vienna.

Former Greek Parliament Speaker Anna Benaki-Psarouda will present the award in the presence of members of the award jury. Last year the award went to daily Kathimerini’s diplomatic correspondent Costas Iordanidis. The award ceremony at the Athens Foreign Press Association on Tuesday will be followed by a small reception.

Special Olympics closing ceremony in Shanghai October 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Olympic Games, Sports & Games.
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A spectacular closing ceremony on Thursday evening at the Shanghai stadium marked the end of the Twelfth World Special Olympics. The next rendezvous is in Athens, Greece, in 2011.

Greek Ambassador Michalis Kampanis, Greek Special Olympics President Yianna Despotopoulou and young Olympic priestess Maria Kotti received the Special Olympics flag. It was Kotti who wept while trying to kindle the Special Olympics flame at the Pnyx in Athens when smoke from the previous day’s fire on Mount Parnitha had blotted out the sun. The flame eventually appeared, and set out on its journey around the world via Washington, over the Great Wall to Shanghai to keep up the institution that Eunice Shriver Kennedy founded and to which her son, Dr Timothy P. Shriver, has devoted his life and career.

The Greek contingent scored a great success, coming away with 43 medals: 13 gold, 16 silver and 15 bronze. Iraklis Kontos and Yiannis Mysiraklis set a record in sailing, as did Giorgos Papadopoulos in swimming.

The Chinese organizers, Despotopoulou said, gave a splendid welcome to the Greek delegation, of which Natasa Karamanlis, wife of the Greek Prime Minister and a Special Olympics volunteer since 1997, was a member. During the Games the dreaded typhoon arrived, missing Shanghai, though causing 18 deaths and untold damage. Rain and strong winds hit Shanghai but the Games continued, and the skies cleared for the final day.

Moves for a safer Internet for kids and guidance for adults October 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet & Web, Telecoms.
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The findings of a survey on the role of Greek parents regarding protecting children from illegal and harmful material on the Internet have caused great concern.

According to the latest data presented yesterday at the third Regional Electronic Security Forum, taking place in Thessaloniki, three in four parents never sit together with their children while they are surfing the Internet. The data were presented by National Safer Internet Advisory Board reporter Ioannis Bogdis.

While only one in eight parents believes their kids have encountered harmful material on the Web, only one in 10 uses filters to block certain sites. Even worse, only one in 12 parents sets rules on the use of the Internet at home.

The answer to a safer Internet, according to Bogdis, lies with both education and prevention as ways to promote the positive aspects and the benefits of new technologies. The alertness and awareness campaign for a safer Internet, www.saferinternet.gr, is being implemented under the auspices of the European Commission and in cooperation with another 25 national portals.

In a similar development, surveys in Greece carried out by the Hellenic Consumer Organization (EKATO) showed that all participating children admitted they have visited at least once sites with pornographic material or games of chance, urged by friends and peers. According to Tania Kyriakidis, EKATO’s President, 82 percent of these children were influenced by Internet advertising. She added that as much as 95 percent of the children said they prefer to log on to the Internet and various chatrooms when their parents are not home.

In the meantime, mobile telephony provider Vodafone has published a booklet, distributed for free, titled Mobile Telephony Guide for Parents, aimed at bridging the gap that separates technology-savvy children and adolescents from the older generations. This handy guide is addressed to people of all ages, providing information on the possibilities offered by mobile telephony. In addition, the guide offers parents practical advice on preventing and reporting such cases, while it also provides ways to deactivate specific services geared toward adults.