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Some 200 films for Thessaloniki Documentary Festival February 27, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Festivals, Movies Life, Movies Life Greek.
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“My Life and Times: Michael Cacoyannis,” a profile of the renowned Greek Cypriot director by Lydia Carras, will premiere at the 10th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival on March 7, organizers said yesterday.

Some 200 films, some Greek but mostly foreign, will be showcased exploring the harder edge of modern life, next to numerous tributes and side events. The festival will run through March 16.

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Thessaloniki gets set for documentary festival > Organizers announce main themes and parallel happenings as event celebrates 10th anniversary

A tribute to the 86-year-old Greek-Cypriot filmmaker Michael Cacoyannis, as crafted by Lydia Carras, will kick off the annual Thessaloniki Documentary Festival on March 7, organizers said at a press briefing. The 10-day cinematic marathon, currently in its 10th year, will showcase some 200 productions and is expected to draw over 35,000 viewers.

This year’s lineup features the familiar fare of hard-hitting pictures from the real world, including a shocking documentary on assisted suicide, a portrait of contemporary China and a story of a sex change.

Apart from the event’s established themes, such as human rights, the environment, music and human interest stories, this year’s offerings include a tribute to Canadian documentaries and a special feature on fascism prompted by the 70th anniversary of the events of Kristallnacht, the first Nazi pogrom against the Jews carried out on November 9, 1938.

Organizers will also present a tribute to the work of the US directing-producing duo Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky (creators of the much acclaimed «Brother’s Keeper,» 1992, detailing the murder trial of Delbert Ward) as well as Finnish director and DocPoint founder Arto Halonen, all of whom are expected to be in town to discuss their seminal works.

«My Life and Times: Michael Cacoyannis,» a profile of the Greek-Cypriot director, will kick off the festival. Best known for his 1964 film «Zorba the Greek,» Cacoyannis has been nominated for an Academy Award five times.

Other entries narrate personal journeys, of various sorts: self-discovery, gender transition, suicide tourism. «The Suicide Tourist,» a controversial film by Academy Award-winner John Zaritsky, follows the progress of two couples as they turn to Dignitas, a Swiss non-profit organization that helps people die, a legal practice in that part of the world. The movie, to be screened under the Canadian focus section, has touched off a great deal of controversy as Craig, a 59-year-old euthanasia candidate with terminal Lou Gehrig’s disease, eventually dies on camera.

To premier at the festival, «Love and Sex in China» by Italy’s Annamaria Gallone, follows the existential journey of Yang Li Na, a young Chinese journalist in marital crisis, as she takes her own journey against the backdrop of a changing and often contradictory China. Simon Brook’s «Culture 68» also a world premiere, recounts personal stories from the transformative events of May 1968, while Gwen Haworth’s award-winning «She’s a Boy I Knew» which falls under the human journeys section, tracks the director’s own seven-year journey from man to woman.

The festival will also showcase a tribute to «War Zone,» a very successful monthly series that has been broadcast on Greek television since 2003. Reporter Sotiris Danezis has so far shot 40 documentaries on humanitarian, political and religious crises across the globe. The Mega channel reporter will also deliver a master class at the festival, organizers said.

Powered by its outspoken and highly energetic artistic director Dimitris Eipidis, the festival seems to be going from strength to strength, attracting growing numbers of visitors and enhancing its status among similar festivals across the continent. The festival, which started out with screenings at the flagship Olympion and Pavlos Zannas theaters on Aristotelous Square, has expanded to embrace the dockside warehouse complex.

The event will also host a market for buying and selling movies, while a five-day pitching session will give local and foreign filmmakers a chance to argue the merits of their work to commissioning editors, distributors and producers.

The festival does not offer awards, such as the silver and golden Alexanders of its bigger and more glamorous brother, the annual Thessaloniki International Film Festival. Documentary-makers rather have to settle for two public choice and two FIPRESCI awards carrying 2,000- to 4,000-euro cash prizes.

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From Aristophanes to the Acropolis, Greek culture on show in Beijing February 27, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Culture, Hellenic Light Asia, Olympic Games.
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Two Greek cultural landmarks were presented in Beijing yesterday. Both events are part of the ongoing Culture Year of Greece in China.

Aristophanes’ masterpiece “The Birds” opened at the Chinese city’s Grand National Theater last night. The sold-out performances are based on a celebrated production presented for the first time by Karolos Koun’s Theatro Technis at the Herod Atticus Theater in 1959.

The second event, an exhibition on the New Acropolis Museum, was inaugurated at the Hellenic House in Beijing earlier this week.

Presenting both events at a press conference in Beijing yesterday, Greek Culture Minister Michalis Liapis expressed his satisfaction with the way Chinese audiences have responded to the Greek cultural presence. Liapis also announced a large-scale music event scheduled to take place during the upcoming 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Deal signed for Panathinaikos’ new stadium February 27, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece.
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Panathinaikos and City of Athens reach agreement on sports complex in Votanikos

A deal was signed yesterday between Panathinaikos and the Athens City Council that is expected to lead to the construction very shortly of a new sports complex in central Athens that will house the historic sports club’s soccer, basketball and volleyball stadiums.

In comments following the signing ceremony with Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis, Yiannis Vardinoyiannis, owner of Panathinaikos soccer club, one of the country’s two biggest, said Panathinaikos would soon have “the best stadium in Greece, and one of the best in Europe.”

The agreement for the complex, to be located in the Votanikos district, approximately 1 kilometer from Omonia Square in downtown Athens, had been in the pipeline for the past couple of years. Prior to the delays, Panathinaikos was hoping to celebrate its centennial year, this year, at its new home. The project, currently budgeted at around 90 million euros, is expected to take 19 months to complete once bulldozers begin work, which could be next month.

The overall plan involves converting the Athens club’s traditional base, the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium in the densely populated Ambelokipi district, where the Panathinaikos soccer team is currently based, into a much-needed park.

Kaklamanis yesterday reiterated an earlier pledge to convert the old stadium into a park with some space set aside for a club museum. “For Athens, this means that a vast green lung will be created within the city’s urban fabric, in the Ambelokipi area,” he said.

The City of Athens will partly fund Panathinaikos’s new sports complex and, in return, will take possession of the plot of land on which the old stadium stands.

The outdated Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium no longer meets international soccer requirements, as set by UEFA, the sport’s governing body in Europe. Not long ago, UEFA removed the Athens stadium from its list of venues eligible to host games for the Champions League, Europe’s premier club-level competition.

Vardinoyiannis took the opportunity yesterday to lash out at club detractors and parties interested in buying into the soccer club, who have suggested that he could be performing better as top administrator. “Many people are upset that Panathinaikos is top of the league. It is a common phenomenon for artificial crises to be created and that’s what is happening now,” he said. “Panathinaikos is top, whether some people like it or not.”

More Greek students taking jobs to pay living costs February 27, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Education.
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A growing number of tertiary students are supporting themselves financially through part-time work because many of them are studying away from home, according to data released yesterday.

Figures made public by the National Statistics Service (NSS) showed that the number of working first-year students rose 20.1 percent to 3,653 in the 2006-2007 period from 3,041 students in the 2005-2006 period.

Some 40,000 first-year students enrolled at Greece’s Universities in 2006. The number of students enrolled at Universities outside of Athens and Thessaloniki rose considerably.

There was a 20 percent rise in first-year students enrolled at the University of the Peloponnese and a 19 percent increase in students at the Western Macedonian University.

Princeton Coins a gateway to History February 27, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Americas.
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Alan Stahl has a lot of change on his hands, and not the kind you can cash in at any bank. The curator of Princeton University’s numismatic collection is in charge of protecting and displaying tens of thousands of coins, tokens, medals, and pieces of paper money.

The 150-year-old collection started as an assemblage of plaster casts of ancient Greek and Roman coins. Stahl estimates it now contains about 80,000 items. New acquisitions in the past year have made the collection even more diverse: a donation of 2,000 ancient Chinese coins, and the purchase of more than 800 medieval Greek coins, bought for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

About a dozen university students each spend a few hours a week cataloging the coins. So far, the collection’s online system has more than 3,000 coins listed, about 1,000 coins entered in each year. For the students, cataloging the coins is an education in itself. As a junior majoring in classics, Joe has read a great deal about the ancient Romans.

But he felt a greater connection with the subject he loves last week as he held a brass coin with the image of the big-chinned Roman Emperor Nero on the front. The back showed Rome’s temple of Janus with its doors closed, a symbol that the empire was at peace.

Some of the collection’s coins are on display at Princeton’s Firestone Library, where the collection is housed. Any member of the public can also ask to see a tray with some coins, though Stahl will keep close watch to make sure coins don’t go missing. Stahl still cringes when he recalls a theft at the American Numismatic Society when he was there in the late 1980s.

Half of the collection, about 30,000 coins, comes from Princeton University archaeological work in Antioch, during the late 1930s. The dig turned up a trove of ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic coins. Stahl still handles envelopes with the handwriting of the lead archeologist’s wife, who catalogued the money.

The collection includes Byzantine coins that are bent, almost in cup shapes. Some of the ancient Chinese coins are shaped like knives and keys. But for the most part, the coins are round and flat, a feature Stahl guesses might be due to functionality.

“The knife coins would sure punch a hole in your pocket or purse. I guess a square coin would be bad,” Stahl said. Kingdoms and empires, Stahl said, usually have rulers on the front of their coins, though the Byzantine Empire also used Jesus. Republics in history have avoided living people, and instead concentrated on symbols of what is valued by the state. Particularly in the past, most average people didn’t see their country’s capital and its public buildings, or the nation’s important documents. But they did see coins.

Related Links > The Princeton University Numismatic Collection > http://www.princeton.edu/rbsc/department/numismatics

Irish company ditches mortgages for occupied north Cyprus February 27, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Occupied.
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A company in Ireland that last month began offering mortgages to Irish and British citizens to buy property in the Turkish occupied north area of Cyprus, has withdrawn the service, Irish media have reported.

Global Mortgages Direct, which describes itself as Ireland’s first international mortgage brokerage specialist, began advertising the offers earlier this month. But according to the reports, the company had second thoughts and withdrew the service little more than a day later.

The Irish newspaper the Sunday Tribune reported that Global Mortgages Direct had taken the decision to withdraw after considering the implications and the Irish government’s stance on the issue. The company said the service had been withdrawn the day after its launch.

The decision was made following discussions with Cypriot officials in Ireland, and having taken account of the Irish government’s strong warnings about buying property in the Turkish military controlled and occupied northern areas of the Republic of Cyprus.

Director Mark Gannon told the Sunday Tribune the company had arranged a facility to source mortgages with a Turkish bank after “regular requests” from people interested in buying property in the occupied northern Cyprus. He said the reaction to the decision to offer mortgages on the occupied north of the island “took us from left field”. “We didn’t expect the fall-out. . . It was pretty full-on.”  Gannon said the decision to withdraw the facility immediately “relates to the Irish government’s stance”.

The Tribune said many Irish citizens had purchased property in the Turkish military controlled and occupied northern areas of Cyprus. However, like Britain, the Irish government issues a warning to prospective buyers on its website strongly advising them to seek qualified independent legal advice due to potential claims related to title and ownership from Cypriots displaced in 1974 after Turkey invaded Cyprus, “which may lead to serious financial and legal repercussions”.

It adds that potential buyers may face legal proceedings in the courts of the Republic of Cyprus, decisions of which can be executed elsewhere in the EU, including Ireland. Cypriot law was also recently amended making it a criminal offence, with penalties of up to seven years imprisonment, to purchase, sell, rent or promote or advertise the sale of property in Turkish military controlled and occupied northern areas of Cyprus owned by Greek Cypriots, the website says. “Any attempt to undertake such a transaction is also a criminal offence under Cypriot law. The law is not retrospective and took effect on October 20, 2006,” it advises.

When the advertisement first went out, Gannon said he had received some queries about the legal implications for buyers purchasing in the occupied north, but he said: “What we do is facilitate mortgages,” not sell or buy the properties. Gannon said that for the company it was an issue of “Buyer Beware”.

“Colour stories” Visual Arts Group Exhibition > Contemporary Greek Women Artists February 27, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Europe.
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Five women artists representing the Greek contemporary visual scene are conversing from the walls of ArtBase Gallery in Brussels, inviting viewers to join this dialogue of colour, not as receivers but as interactive players in their story.

Ismini Bonatsou, Natassa Poulantza, Adonia Vakondios, Maria Chatzilampou and Katerina Rouka each domesticate their specific palette of colours and style proposing a distinctive visual experience through digital photography, painting, monotype and fusion.

The exhibition focuses on the expression of colour as an important element of the Greek contemporary and emerging visual art scene and puts a highlights the importance of women’s vision and artistic expression.

“Colour stories” Visual Arts Group Exhibition – Contemporary Greek Women Artists’, Art Base Espace Expos Et Concerts, Rue des Sables 29, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium. Telephone: 02 2172920. Free entrance. From 28 February to 21 March.

Related Links > http://www.art-base.be