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Bergman tribute throughout the week in Athens March 24, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life, Movies Life Greek.
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Bergman tribute throughout the week, showcasing 22 films > A tribute to the film great is now on at the Danaos Cinema in Athens

Twenty-two films by Ingmar Bergman, who passed away less than a year ago aged 89, have been chosen for a tribute to the highly influential Swedish director, now on until Saturday at the Danaos cinema in Athens.

24-03-08_bergman.jpg  Bergman directed over 50 films and managed, in a harsh yet refined fashion, to bring the human condition to the core of his filmmaking. The melancholic mood of his films and use of articulate language lead the viewer on bittersweet journeys into the darker aspects of existence, life and death.

Bergman was born in Uppsala, Sweden, in 1918 and began his career in theater before turning to film in 1944 when he wrote the screenplay for “Torment/Frenzy” a film directed by Alf Sjoberg. Two years later, Bergman emerged as a director with the film “Crisis” and achieved international recognition in 1955 with “Smiles of a Summer Night”, a humorous and lively look at love and relationships. His reputation abroad was further consolidated with 1957’s “The Seventh Seal”, a drama in which a philosophical knight plays chess with Death in an effort to find God. Bergman’s style was particularly investigative as he sought his casts’ finer nuances in their relationship with the camera. His melancholic takes on humanity in a world of alienation greatly influenced the broader arts, including numerous directors from Woody Allen to Theo Angelopoulos.

Danaos Cinema, 109 Kifissias Avenue, Athens, tel 210 6922655.

Related Links > http://www.danaoscinema.gr/content/blogcategory/16/36/

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Ancient Cycladic civilization meets modern Beijing March 24, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Arts Museums, Hellenic Light Asia.
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Archaeological exhibition will open on April 3

24-03-08_cycladic.jpg  A marble female figurine from the early Cycladic II period, circa 2700-2300 BC.

With the Olympic Games in Beijing almost upon us, the Chinese capital is getting ready to welcome some of the wonders of one of Europe’s oldest civilizations. “The Cyclades: Masterpieces of an Aegean Culture” is an archaeological exhibition that will go on display at Beijing’s Imperial City Art Museum on April 3 and is scheduled to run to May 15.

On loan from the Museum of Cycladic Art and the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, figurines, tools and pots, dating to the 4th and 3rd millennia BC, are set to travel to China for the first time. The exhibition is part of the ongoing Cultural Year of Greece in China, which started last September and includes more interesting cultural events.

“This is the first archaeological exhibition of the Cultural Year of Greece in China,” said Sandra Marinopoulou, the new President of the N.P. Goulandris Foundation [who took over after the death of Dolly Goulandris], at a recent press conference. She pointed out that a display of artifacts from the ancient Cycladic civilization – the culture that flourished on the islands of the Cyclades – is of particular importance in a country that has not had much contact with Greek culture, because the exhibits are highly reminiscent of modern artworks by 20th-century artists whom they have inspired.

24-03-08_cycladic_art.jpg  The exhibits have been carefully arranged so as to reflect a sense of familiarity, as Nikolaos Stambolidis, Director of the Museum of Cycladic Art, explained. “We had at our disposal a huge space with glass displays which could have made the few statuettes almost disappear,” said Bessy Drouga from the National Archaeological Museum. Yet the opposite effect was achieved, since the exhibition has been enriched with maps of Europe as well as colors reminiscent of the Aegean Sea. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog in Chinese and English.

Situated in the center of Beijing, in Chang Pu He Park, the Imperial City Art Museum opened its gates to the public in June 2003. The two-floor structure houses traditional Chinese art but is also keen on showcasing international artwork.

Further events organized in the context of the Cultural Year of Greece in China, as Sofoklis Psilianos, general secretary for the Olympic Utilization explained, include an exhibition of costumes from the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, a large exhibition in collaboration with Greece’s National Archaeological Museum, a performance of Dimitris Papaioannou’s staging of “Medea” as well as Sophocles’ tragedy “Ajax” by the Attis Theater, among other activities.

Ideas for cycling trips in Greece’s natural surroundings March 24, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Cycling, Greece, Greece Mainland.
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Greek roads and drivers might not be cyclist-friendly, but the countryside is. Those who venture forth are rewarded by the experience of beautiful landscapes and villages.

24-03-08_cycling.jpg  As Greek roads and drivers are not cyclist-friendly, why not load your bicycle onto your car and drive somewhere you can enjoy cycling in natural surroundings.

Route One > A 4.2-kilometer ride at Doxa Lake. The lake is an artificial one in the mountain range outside Corinth, near Goura and Feneo. The peaceful landscape is a lush green, full of firs, black pines and oaks. The road around the lake is sealed all the way, and there are few cars. The beautiful monastery of Aghios Georgios lies just above the lake, and the sign Pontikonisi tis Korinthias leads to a strip of land and the Church of Aghios Fanourios or Paleomonastiro.

Route Two > This is a longer ride, 37 kilometers, but not a difficult one, 22 km on an easy dirt road and 15 km on asphalt. It’s best to start around 3 km out of Elati, at the crossroads for Vlacha. Leave your car, and cycle through the dense fir forest on a gentle uphill gradient of about 2 km to Vlacha. There the road flattens out for the spring and cafe, then descends into a pretty valley. At the bottom, the road goes left to Stournaraiika and right to Neraidohori-Pyrra. Turn right, keeping the river on your left. The road is mainly flat; the scenery and the sound of water are magical. This route is called “Dromos tou Xylogefyrou” or the Wooden Bridge Road. About halfway along, cross the bridge. With the river on your left, continue to the bridge below Neraidohori. You’ll hardly meet a single car. The 2.5-3 km near the village are the only part of the route where you’ll need to pedal hard. At the village, the road turns to asphalt and is flat or downhill on the way back back via Livadion Pertouliou.

Archbishop Ieronymos wants a more tolerant Church March 24, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News, Politics, Religion & Faith.
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Archbishop Ieronymos yesterday distanced himself from the Holy Synod, which last week described cohabitation between unmarried couples as “prostitution,” saying the Church should be more open-minded and less moralizing.

“The Church is what Christ wants it to be, not what people want it to be,” Ieronymos told a congregation at Kalamata Cathedral. “We are giving the impression that the role of the Church is to force people to be good,” he said. Ieronymos cited the example of Saint Dionysus of Zakynthos, who reached sainthood even though he had sinned by harboring a criminal.

The Holy Synod’s statement, apparently influenced by Bishop Anthimos of Thessaloniki, was a reaction to government plans to introduce a cohabitation law granting the same rights to couples who live together as those who are married.

Relatives of missing Cypriots to get closure March 24, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News, Cyprus Occupied, Politics.
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Facility is inaugurated in Nicosia where families can view identified remains

24-03-08_missing_cypriots.jpg  The room where families get a first glimpse of relatives who vanished in fighting in the 1960s and 70s, at a new facility in Nicosia, in the buffer zone separating the Greek and Turkish-Cypriot communities, last Tuesday. The facility will allow families from both sides to see recently unearthed remains of a relative for the first time.

The final act in dozens of human tragedies from divided Cyprus’s troubled past is unfolding in a clinical room with four tables draped in white sheets. Here, in the buffer zone separating Greek and Turkish-Cypriot communities, families will get a first glimpse of relatives who vanished in fighting in the 1960s and 1970s, their hastily dug graves lost in the fog of postwar politics.

“We’ve had instances where children who hadn’t been born when their father disappeared see him for the first time as a skeleton,” said Elias Georgiades, the Greek-Cypriot member of a committee tasked with uncovering the fate of hundreds of missing Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

An international forensics team carries out the actual search for the approximately 1,500 Greek Cypriots and 500 Turkish Cypriots who are listed as missing. To date, the exhumation and identification program has unearthed the remains of 379 missing people. The disappearances began in 1964 at the onset of intercommunal violence. They culminated in 1974 when Turkey invaded the Republic of Cyprus in response to a failed coup by supporters of union with Greece. Many died in battle; others were victims of revenge killings, buried in unmarked graves undisturbed for decades until long-suppressed information guided anthropologists to them.

The new facility, inaugurated this week in the no man’s land that cuts across the island’s capital, Nicosia, will allow scores of families from both sides to see recently unearthed remains of a relative for the first time in decades.

“This is a place where a lot of emotion will unfold,” said Christophe Girod, the committee’s UN-appointed member. Until now, viewings of the remains were held in a cramped office that was once part of the old airport’s installations.

Since July, the families of 57 Greek Cypriots and 26 Turkish Cypriots have viewed the identified remains of their relatives. Remains first undergo laboratory analysis before DNA testing to identify them. Then families are called in.

At one recent viewing, an elderly grieving woman caressed the skull of her husband, weeping softly as she kissed his jaw bone. The Greek-Cypriot man had vanished in 1974, after being snatched from his home late one summer evening, his relatives said. They asked that neither they nor the man be identified. His remains were found in a shallow grave in the northeastern Karpasia peninsula alongside those of 11 others. He was handcuffed to another body lying beside him. Forensic scientists said they could not determine the exact cause of death. But in his relatives’ minds, there was little doubt – his skull was fractured and he had a bullet hole in his shoulder blade. The black-clad relatives viewed the skeletal remains with quiet resignation. “After so many years, we expected this,” said one of the man’s three daughters.

One relative lit incense to waft over the remains in accordance with Orthodox Christian custom. His children said that at least this time, their father would receive a proper burial. There was a palpable sense of relief at the end of the viewing. The relatives embraced the staff and expressed their gratitude, some even managing to smile.

Families take custody of the remains a day or so later after signing release papers. Officials say such viewings have a ceremonial quality to impart a sense of closure. Relatives are first ushered into a sitting room where experts involved in the exhumation and identification process field questions and offer emotional support.

They are then guided into an adjacent viewing area where the remains are neatly arranged on a table. Clothing and other items such as keepsakes and pocket change found at the burial site are displayed nearby.

“The families cry, they shout, they kneel, they kiss the bones, they touch them… they demand the truth, the whole truth,” Georgiades said. “These are sacred moments for the relatives,” he added. “They imagine the last days, hours and moments of the skeleton that lies before them.”

The exhumation program is seen as a way to heal a festering wound that has long impeded reconciliation between the two estranged communities, as efforts to reunify the island remain stalemated. The program has raised around $5.33 million in donations to carry on its work through 2008, with an estimated five years remaining for completion.

“Without closure, the pain and anguish of these families remains. That is why the work of the (committee) is so important, not only to the families themselves, but also to the future of the island,” US Ambassador Ronald Schlicher said.

Leaders in Cyprus get to work for peace March 24, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News, Cyprus Occupied, Politics.
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Intense consultations begin this week to prepare the ground for renewed Cyprus peace talks aimed at ending more than three decades of division and conflict on the Mediterranean island.

Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias, whose election in February sparked a fresh drive for peace, and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed on Friday to launch reunification talks in three months.

Hopes are high that this time around rival leaders from the separated Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot communities have the political courage and conviction to finally hammer out a road map to peace and end the 34-year divide.

“This is a new beginning that may turn out to be a starting point in a search for a settlement,” Joseph Joseph, Professor of Political Science at Cyprus University, told AFP. “After four long years of stagnation and deadlock, everybody now realizes it could be the last and best hope for a settlement. We have a new President with a fresh mandate, the right attitude and who is forward-looking. Talat is open-minded and flexible. Both leaders have a good personal and political relationship. So, the pressure is there. The right people are there and there is conviction from the international community.”

24-03-08_ledra_street.jpg  The rival Cypriot leaders announced a landmark decision to open Ledra street in the heart of Nicosia, Europe’s last divided capital city, as a gesture of good will. “Ledra Street is a good start but not enough on its own,” an EU diplomat told AFP.

Advisers from both sides will meet today to form working groups and technical committees which will set the agenda for future talks.

Christofias’s chief aid George Iacovou will meet with his Turkish-Cypriot counterpart Ozdil Nami to agree on the number of committees needed and the issues they will tackle. These issues will be a mixture of everyday problems, such as crime and immigration, as well as the more thorny subjects encompassing property rights.

Name dispute talks to continue tomorrow March 24, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News, Politics.
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There was a climate of cautious optimism in Athens and Skopje over the weekend ahead of fresh negotiations on the Macedonia name dispute in New York tomorrow.

In Athens, diplomats said that a compromise could be reached ahead of NATO’s summit on April 2-4, where the possible accession of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is to be discussed. Officially Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis was more reserved, saying, after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, that she “felt neither optimistic nor pessimistic.”

Bakoyannis is to meet her FYROM counterpart Antonio Milososki on the sidelines of a European Union summit in Slovenia on Friday to discuss any headway made in New York by the two country’s representatives in United Nations-mediated talks.

On Saturday, FYROM’s President, Branko Crvenkovski, stressed the need for a “logical compromise” to the name dispute. FYROM’s envoy Nikola Dimitrov told reporters he had been given “precise instructions” but did not elaborate.