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Art Festival for Human Rights triggers dialogue March 28, 2008

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The neighborhood of Exarchia in central Athens is about to be transformed into an alternative art center for a week.

Different kinds of art, including painting, street art, photography, installations and video screenings, will take over the block surrounded by Arachovis, Themistocleous, Coletti and Zoodochou Pigis Streets, as the second “Wo + Man =?” festival kicks off tonight.

Organized by the Open Horizons organization as part of the 6th Art Festival for Human Rights, this year’s event will explore sexuality, gender and identity issues. With the focus being on street art, 40 artists will redefine the use of public space as a venue for communicating with the public, by selecting outdoor and indoor spaces of bars, restaurants, cafes and other stores to exhibit their work. By exploring the possibilities that public and private venues can offer, they are hoping to send out a message about art and society. The aim is to create a bridge of communication with visitors and passers-by and trigger dialogue and a collective conscience.

28-03-08_human_rights.jpg  The festival’s central venue will be the Cosmos of Culture Center on the corner of Andrea Metaxa and Emmanouil Benaki Streets. That is where the official opening will take place, at 7 p. m. today and where information regarding all of the scheduled events will be available. Cosmos of Culture will also host all the video screenings.

Participating artists include Alexandros Avranas, Artemis Alkalai, Alma Bakiaj, Margarita Gelada, Giorgos Gyparakis, Antigone Kavvatha, Anna Laskari, Caroline May, Costas Beveratos, Giorgos Tserionis, Dorota Zglobicka, Ioanna Ximeri, Vangelis Raftogiannis and many others. The event was conceived and curated by Costas Theonas.

The festival will run until Sunday, April 5 and will be open daily 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission to all venues is free. For further information call 210 3303385 or 210 8846038.

Related Links > www.humanrights.gr and www.cosmosofculture.gr


Successful experiment continues at the Hellenic Festival March 5, 2008

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The Hellenic Festival’s program for 2008 follows format that was established just two years ago > Top dancer Sylvie Guillem will perform ‘Le Sacre de Printemps’ as part of the tribute to Maurice Bejart.

Ever since Giorgos Loukos took over, the Hellenic Festival has undergone an unprecedented change. By reaching out to young audiences and introducing new venues, from 2006 the institution has acquired a new identity.

This summer promises to continue the newly established tradition. At yesterday’s press conference Loukos announced the, once more, rich program, which has two novelties, a stronger emphasis on visual arts and on collaboration between foreign directors and Greek actors. Highlights include a tribute to the recently deceased dance master Maurice Bejart with Sylvie Guillem, choreographies by Trisha Brown and Pina Bausch and a dance performance with Mikhail Baryshnikov, but also Dimitris Papaioannou’s milestone performance “Medea”. Music fans will be able to enjoy Nana Mouskouri’s last concert.

“The Hellenic Festival may be the most popular and recognizable institution of the country. The experiment has worked,” said Minister of Culture Michalis Liapis, who was present at the press conference. Pointing out the audience’s warm response and the sold-out performances, he went on to say that the festival can now claim its own position on the international cultural map.

“I am very pleased,” said Loukos, who explained the contrast with the beginning, in 2006, when everything was so uncertain. “We made mistakes but we learnt from them.” He proudly announced that various productions that opened at the Hellenic Festival, such as Michail Marmarinos’s “I’m Dying Like a Country” and Lefteris Vogiatzis’s “Antigone” will travel to international festivals and said that acclaimed institutions abroad, including London’s Old Vic Theater, have expressed their interest in working with the festival.

05-03-08_herod_atticus.jpg  The program at the trademark venue, the Herod Atticus Theater, will start with the Greek National Opera production of Puccini’s opera “Turandot” on June 1, 3, 5 and 7. The Paul Taylor Dance Company will take the stage on June 11, followed by the tribute to great 20th-century choreographer Bejart with top dancer Sylvie Guillem on June 16 and 17. In what Loukos described as a performance “not to be missed” and “a mixture of gospel and Greek tragedy,” Lee Breuer will present his take on the story of Greek mythical hero Oedipus with “The Gospel at Colonus” on June 21. June will end with a concert by composer Olivier Messiaen (23), a tribute to Greek variete and revues by Stamatis Kraounakis (27, 28) and a concert with classical pianist and jazzman Fazil Say (30).

July will kick off with soprano Renee Fleming in her first performance in Greece (July 3) and will continue with a Greek music extravaganza by Nikos Portokaloglou and various guests (July 6, 7). Distinguished maestro Riccardo Muti will lead the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino orchestra on July 8, followed by an evening of Ravel melodies with the Orchestre de Paris under Christophe Eschenbach (July 11). Stavros Xarchakos will pay tribute to Manos Hadjidakis (July 13), the Bolshoi Theater orchestra and choir will play compositions by Prokofiev (July 14) and the Cyprus Theater Organization will stage Aristophanes’ comedy “Plutus” (July 16). On July 18, the Lyceum of Greek Women will present a show based on percussion and the Karolos Koun Theatro Technis will perform Aristophanes’ “Birds” which was just staged in China (July 20, 21). Eternally popular vocalist Nana Mouskouri will round off her career on July 23. Choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui will present his work with the Shaolin Monks (July 26) and composer Lena Platonos will follow (July 28). July will end with a concert by the Greek-Turkish Orchestra under Vladimir Ashkenazy on the 29 and then singer-songwriter Paolo Conte (July 31). The program at the hugely popular Pireos 260 venue will kick off with a renewed version of Dimitris Papaioannou’s 1993 “Medea” (June 1 to 5). Choreographer Josef Nadj and artist Miquel Barcelo will experiment in “Paso Doble” (June 1 to 3) and the Theseum Ensemble will once more stage Dimitris Dimitriadis’s “I’m Dying Like a Country” directed by Michail Marmarinos (6, 7). The Compagnie Maguy Marin will perform June 8-10 and the Wooster Group will return for an original take on “Hamlet” (12-15). Mikhail Lermontov’s play “Masquerade” by Stathis Livathinos will go on stage June 24 to 26 and Yiannis Houvardas will present Oden von Horvath’s play “Tales from the Vienna Woods” (27-30).

The acclaimed Schaubuehne company will return with Tennessee Williams’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (June 29-July 1) and Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” (July 8-10,) directed by Thomas Ostermeier. Dance legend Mikhail Baryshnikov will dance July 3 to 8, then flamenco revolutionary Israel Galvan will perform July 10-12. The Trisha Brown Dance Company, that has only performed at the Kalamata International Dance Festival so far where Greece is concerned, will give two performances (12, 13) and French choreographer Alain Buffard will follow, July 15 and 16. Hanoch Levin’s play “Krum” by Polish director Krzysztof Warlikowski, will be staged July 16 to 18 and be followed by an adaptation of Josephine Hart’s novel “Damage” by Haralambos Gogios (21, 22). July will end with Mabou Mines and Lee Breuer’s award-winning performance of Ibsen’s “Dollhouse” (21-24), Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” directed by Cezaris Grauzinis (29-31) and Dimitris Kourtakis’s performance “Kafeneion” (30-31).

Highlights at the Athens Concert Hall include a 16th-century Chinese opera (June 12-14), Benjamin Britten’s “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream” by the Lyon National Opera in a Greek first (July 7, 9) and Mussorgsky’s opera “Boris Godunov” by the Bolshoi Opera (July 15, 16). There will also be concerts by string quartets mid- to end-June and the Greek Ensemble of Contemporary Music (July 24), a concert by pianist Fazil Say and percussionist Burhan Ocal (June 28, although the venue might change) and religious compositions by Les Talents Lyriques on June 27.

At the Scholeion venue, actress Aspassia Papathanassiou will do a reading on June 9 and drog_a_tek will present an audiovisual performance on June 12. Actresses Reni Pittaki and Loula Anagnostaki will join forces June 17 to 21 and Jean-Christophe Sais’s take on Euripides’ tragedy “Andromache” will be staged on June 22 and 23. The program will continue with Vassilis Alexakis’s play “Call Me by My Name” (June 29, 30), a tribute to mythological hero Oedipus by the Theater of Silence (July 1 to 5), and duets and solos from the contemporary Greek dance scene (July 7, 10). Renate Jett will present Heiner Mueller’s “Quartet” starring Betty Arvaniti and Christos Stergioglou July 15 to 20. Ethnic music, by the Taksim Trio, three Greek ensembles, Buika, Iranian singer Shahram Nazeri and Marta Sebestyen will follow (22-26). Ibsen’s “Ghosts” by Ektoras Lygizos will be staged July 27 to 31. July will end with Euripides’ tragedy “Bacchae” by Thomas Moschopoulos (30, 31).

Anastassia Lyra’s dance installation will inaugurate the Mikroskopiko Theater, June 21 to 23. The Technopolis Arts Complex will host once more the avant-garde Synch Festival June 13 to 15 and a modern art exhibition from the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo collection will go on display at the Benaki Museum’s Pireos Street annex.

The Epidaurus Festival of Ancient Drama will open with Beckett’s “Happy Days” (July 4, 5) directed by Deborah Warner and starring Fiona Shaw, which was only staged for one night last summer because of the fires in the Peloponnese. The program then features Aristophanes’ “Frogs” by Dimitris Lignadis (July 11, 12), Gluck’s “Orfeo ed Euridice” by Pina Bausch and the Paris Opera (July 19, 20), Euripides’ “Phoenician Women” by the Spyros Evangelatos Amphi-Theater (July 25, 26), Euripides’ “Orestes” by the National Theater of Northern Greece (August 1, 2), a unified Greek National Theater production of Sophocles’ “Oedipus Rex” and “Oedipus at Colonus” by Roula Pateraki (August 8, 9), Euripides’ “Medea” by Anatoly Vasiliev (15, 16) and Aeschylus’ “Agamemnon” by Angela Brouskou (22, 23).

The cozy Epidaurus Little Theater will host Matthias Langhoff’s take on Heiner Mueller’s play “Philoctetes” (June 27, 28), Mediterranean melodies by Savina Yannatou (July 11, 12), Britten’s “Curlew River” by the Lyon National Opera (July 10, 11), a concert with Periklis Koukos (July 18, 19) and a concert with George Emmanuel Lazaridis and Maria Farantouri (July 25, 26.)

For detailed info please visit > http://www.greekfestival.gr

Some 200 films for Thessaloniki Documentary Festival February 27, 2008

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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.

28-02-08_documentary.jpg  UPDATE >>>

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.

Limassol gears up for carnival February 14, 2008

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Limassol Municipality yesterday announced its plans for the ten-day carnival festival, which will start on February 28.

The Municipality has announced the introduction of a number of new features to this year’s events. A live ‘King Carnival’ will be reappearing to launch the carnival, replacing the puppet that has been featured in recent years.

The Municipality also announced that three carnival-related exhibitions would take place during the festival, the performance by Cuban band ‘Son Cubanos’ at the Patticheion Theatre and at the Old Market and the participation of three groups from Patras Carnival in the main parade.

To boost the festive spirit, the Municipality will also open two carnival cafes at Grigori Afxendiou Square for the carnival days, while lively music will be played at central spots in the town.

The Children’s Carnival Parade will take place at Anexartisias Street on Sunday March 2 at 11.30pm. The main parade, considered the climax of events, will take place at Makarios Avenue on Sunday March 9 at 1.30pm.

XXX-Rated rendezvous February 1, 2008

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01-02-08_john_holmes.jpg  Porn star John Holmes is the topic of a documentary in the Second Berlin Porn Film Festival.

Do you feel like spicing up your weekend? Well, you’ll certainly have the opportunity to do so, as the Second Berlin Porn Film Festival in Athens is currently under way at the Gagarin 205 club.

Following last year’s success, the event, which is jointly organized by Proud Promotions, Astra Productions and Stereomatic, kicked off yesterday and will run to Sunday. Claiming to highlight just how slight the difference between art and pornography is, and hoping to put to rest the stereotypes regarding the porn industry, the festival offers a variety of films and happenings to please all adult tastes. From soft to hard and post-porn films and live happenings, straight, gay and lesbians are all welcome at the Gagarin.

The festival opened with a classic, Radley Metzger’s award-winning “The Opening of Misty Beethoven” which is based on the myth of Pygmalion. Program highlights include the documentary “Llik Your Idols”, with various artists commenting on the porn industry and on New York’s Cinema of Transgression movement, as well as a documentary on legendary actor John Holmes, who was the inspiration behind the box-office hit “Boogie Nights”.

Todd Verow’s latest challenging production, which gives a revealing look at New York, is also part of the program as is Adam & Eve’s award-winning film “Pirates XXX”, a twist on “Pirates of the Caribbean” with lots of digital effects. Two films by controversial director Bruce LaBruce will be shown and famous lesbian porn filmmaker Maria Beatty will present her selection of the past year’s best lesbian films. The program further includes a film by Japan’s bondage artist Yukimura Haruki.

Every day, the screenings are followed by live performances by some of Europe’s biggest fetish shows and music acts, including Wendy Delorme & Louis de Ville from Paris as well as Lazlo Pearlman. The festival will end with the Closing Queer Party on Sunday night.

Gagarin 205 Club, 205 Liosion Street, Athens, tel 210 8547600.

Related Links > http://www.gagarin205.gr/

Psarokokalo > Audiovisual experiments February 1, 2008

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‘Saliva’ is one of the productions that will be screened at the Second International Short Film Festival Psarokokalo.

New and past technologies lie at the heart of a film festival presenting new audiovisual productions which explore novel approaches in cinema, image, rhythm and narration.

The Second International Short Film Festival Psarokokalo kicks off tonight at the screening hall of downtown hotspot Nixon, running to February 10.

The program includes 65 short films – including fiction, documentaries and animation – by Greek and international directors, tributes to Romanian and Basque cinema, short films by Swedish director Roy Andersson as well as special screenings of selections from the Salford Film Festival and the HollyShorts Film Festival.

Parallel events include an interactive performance, “Patakouna”, on February 5 and 6, an art exhibition and a closing party scheduled for February 8 at Soul Stereo.

Nixon, 61B Agisilaou Street, Athens, tel 210 3462077. For more information > www.psarokokalo.gr 

Greek Song Festival stands up to new ways November 8, 2007

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Revived Thessaloniki contest battling against reality TV domination > A hip-hop song, “Agapi einai” – “Love Is”, by Komis H and Vassiliki Alexiou, won the top prize. 

The revived Greek Song Festival in Thessaloniki, back for a third edition last week after appearing and disappearing in the past, opened last Thursday faced with the task of pitting contemporary Greek music production against a scene dominated by reality TV. The event’s organizers, ERT, State TV and Radio, and the International Fair of Thessaloniki, can consider their latest venture a solid step forward. The festival, at a jam-packed venue in Thessaloniki’s Pylea district, closed joyfully with a concert by the popular Greek act Fillipos Pliatsikas backed by the ERT orchestra, while its contestants, all hopefuls, walked away knowing that they had acquired unique experience. The festival also gained a third co-organizer, the Macedonia-Thrace Ministry, which will join in the effort next year.

Now, how these youngsters will manage to find their way on the local music circuit remains the real problem. “We don’t expect anything. We came along to play our song, present our work. Whatever happens, happens. The important thing is the journey, not the destination,” agreed the competition’s prize winners, from Crete, Rhodes and Larissa.

Their songs may never be heard again, as is the case with the material of past winners. A variety of reasons could be cited. A seminar, held on the sidelines of the festival, examined problems encountered by domestic music production, including the role of television in promoting it.

“Not only are the private TV stations doing nothing for Greek music, they are in fact doing all they can to exterminate it by promoting rubbish as music,” remarked veteran lyricist Lefteris Papadopoulos. “At least state TV, whose role needs to be educational, cares about Greek music and is active,” he continued. Johnny Kalimeris, the Executive Manager at ERT, described the state broadcaster as “Greek music’s last remaining bastion.”

Pliatsikas, formerly of the top-selling Greek pop group Pyx Lax, noted that “there’s no outlet for young songwriters on TV. The situation is leading to a contraction of Greek music.” A leading local industry official, Dimitris Yiarmenitis, head of the Greek branch of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) as well as President of Sony-BMG Greece, argued that music and society go hand in hand. “Contemporary Greek music production runs parallel to social development. Record companies cannot really influence society. The level of optimism in Greek society, education, and culture runs parallel to that of Greek music,” he contended.

The bottom line, now that the festival is over, is not only whether the new songs and their artists will survive, but which institutions will stand the test of time amid the music industry’s new market conditions.