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Europe’s Culture Capital January 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Patras Caltural Capital 2006.
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The Greek city of Patras said farewell to being Europe’s Culture Capital for year 2006.

The medieval Saxon city of Sibiu in Transylvania yesterday became one of Europe’s official capitals of culture. Celebrations, including fireworks, light shows and concerts, were planned for later in the day.

Also known by its German name of Hermannstadt, Sibiu symbolically represents Romania’s new status as an EU member. The other city of culture for 2007 is Luxembourg.

Chinese cinema featured in upcoming nine-film tribute October 25, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek, Patras Caltural Capital 2006.
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Chinese cinema featured in upcoming nine-film tribute in Athens and Patras. The tribute begins in Athens on Thursday.

The explosion of Asian cinema in the past few years has acquainted the Greek public with a previously undiscovered genre, including the many films of contemporary China.

Very few films from this massive Asian country make their way to European theaters, including those of Greece. But a tribute being organized at Athens’s Microcosmos theater from Friday to November 1 and at Patras’s Ideal theater from November 2-8 intends to move against this trend by screening nine films by contemporary Chinese filmmakers.

Many of the themes focus on human relationships, the role of women in Chinese society, the generation gap and family conflict.

For example, “The Girl from Beijing” looks at a family of internal migrants who leave their village to live in the big city; “Tae Kwon Do” follows a young woman as she grows up while noting that internal growth is the key to maturity; “Huayao Bride in Shangri-La” shows one woman’s efforts to emancipate herself from traditional bonds; “Red Snow” stars a Chinese rock star who takes on the mountains of Tibet; and “She Who Loved Me Left” looks at the relationship between three generations of women.

The tribute is jointly organized by the Greek Ministry of Culture and the State Radio, Film and Television Directorate of the People’s Republic of China, with the Patras 2006 Cultural Capital of Europe organization arranging the event on the local front. 

Rhodes aims to become 2018 Europe’s Cultural Capital September 4, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News, Patras Caltural Capital 2006.
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The campaign to have Rhodes elected Cultural Capital of Europe for 2018 has got off to a remarkably early and effective start.

By the time Rhodes Mayor Giorgos Yiannopoulos announced the campaign to the press at the Benaki Museum on Wednesday, hundreds of artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians and politicians had already signed on to offer their support.

Why so early? Rhodes has taken its cue from Cordoba, which began laying its successful claim to be 2016 Cultural Capital 13 years in advance.

“This is an opportunity to upgrade the city of Rhodes,” said Yiannopoulos, “and a reason to redefine priorities so as to make culture the focal point of public discourse.” The initiative will take time to pay off but it is an opportunity to adopt a fresh perspective.

“It is a beautiful journey that we are beginning,” he said. “We wish to share our excitement with you.”

The idea is not only to have Rhodes named cultural capital but also to start a broader dialogue on culture.

With its long history, fabulous architectural heritage and ample experience in hosting international events, Rhodes is ideally suited to be Cultural Capital, according to an informal support committee set up through the network of cultural institutions based on Rhodes, including the Ecofilms Festival, the International Writers’ and Translators’ Center of Rhodes, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rhodes.

The website www.rodosculturalcapital.org will operate as an open forum of ideas and suggestions, to which all are invited to contribute. As Lucia Rikaki, artistic director of Ecofilms pointed out, the world of culture is undergoing constant change, and the dialogue instigated and hosted by Rhodes on the Internet and at meetings of artists from all over the world will challenge thinking and be part of that process of change.

Patras city in Peloponnese is currently this years’ Europe’s Cultural Capital. For additional information please visit > http://patras2006.gr/en/

City of Patras is all set for two-day dance mini-festival July 27, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Patras Caltural Capital 2006.
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Performances to take place and films screened tomorrow and Saturday.

Japan’s Yamada Un dance company will perform “One Piece” a choreography in which five dancers mix color and speed, at the dance festival that is part of Patras’s European Cultural Capital 2006 series of activities.

The City of Patras, the European Cultural Capital 2006, is opening its doors to the dance scene. During a two-day dance mini-festival, which will take place tomorrow and Saturday from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., the public will have a chance to see the work of Greek and foreign choreographers as well as a series of interesting video dance productions.

The mini-festival will kick off with Germany’s Jan Pusch’s “Match” a duet that is part of the trilogy “Projections on the Move” which premiered in Hamburg in 2004. The choreographies follow one another and explore the possibilities of continuity in movement, video, text and sound.

Japan’s Yamada Un company will present “One Piece” in which five dancers mix color and speed with mathematical precision. Founded in 2002, the company is very active, collaborating with other artists, conducting seminars and much more. In 2005, it toured Europe and visited festivals in Berlin, London and Nottingham, among others.

France’s Pascale Houbin and Dominique Boivin have choreographed and will perform the production “Bonte Divine” inspired by the medieval star-crossed lovers Abelard and Heloise. Abelard, a 12th century intellectual, philosopher, poet and theologist and Heloise, a young yet highly mature and knowledgeable girl, are the heroes of a passionate love story which links the real world with spirituality.

The Yelp dance theater company will present “Scale 5:1,” a choreography which explores the different aspects of power and people’s need to compete. Choreographed by Mariela Nestora, “Scale 5:1” features dancers Philippos Kanakaris, Iris Karayan and Katerina Bella.

Tatiana Loverdou’s “Ta Vrachia” (The Rocks) is inspired by the rocks in the sea off the island of Tinos. Choreographed by Loverdou, the performance features Iris Kyriakopoulou, Marianna Christopoulou, Polly Yiannakopoulou and Vangelis Velentzas.

The video dance program, organized by Christiana Galanopoulou, will feature some spectacular recent dance films. “Blush” brings to the screen the fascinating world of Wim Vandekeybus, with creatures balancing between life and death, while Saburo Teshigawara’s “In Pages” depicts an artistic and poetic universe. Filmed in Montevideo, “Montevideoaki” reveals the talents of young and gifted dancer-choreographer Hiroaki Umeda, while “The Cost of Living” by politically active group DV8 is one of the most popular dance movies ever made.

The shows and screenings will take place at the Art Factory and its courtyard as well as at the Ptochokomeio Building.

For information: tel 2610 368000, www.patra2006.gr.

Patras show at old paper mill July 22, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Patras Caltural Capital 2006.
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Artist Vouvoula Skoura presents 150 photographs, an art video and a new guidebook on old factory.

The show ‘Thread of Paper’ is part of the Cultural Capital of Europe 2006 series of events taking place in Patras and is being held at an exhibition hall inside the former factory itself.

Artists are always drawn to old industrial buildings which have a lot to tell us and reflect a special atmosphere due to the many memories and experiences lived amid their walls. Artist Vouvoula Skoura, who has been involved in graphic design, photography and video art for many years, is currently presenting a very interesting project on the old Ladopoulos paper factory in Patras.

The “Thread of Paper” exhibition is part of the series of events celebrating Patras as Cultural Capital of Europe 2006 and opened recently at an exhibition hall inside the old factory.

The tribute consists of 150 photographs, an art video and a new guidebook. “This adventure started in 2002, when I randomly visited the factory with my artist friend Cleopatra Diga,” Skoura said. “I was quite taken by some of the large machines which no longer exist because they have been made obsolete by new technologies. The place was deserted, but you could feel the past presence of the workers and imagine their daily routine. All the objects I encountered were a starting point for thought, inspiration and, mostly, recording: a pair of shoes, an empty desk, files and documents about the people who worked there,” she added.

Over the next four years, Skoura visited the factory to take photographs. Part of that work was made into an in-house publication titled “Photogramma”. Today, Skoura has gathered a great amount of material and has also made a video about the evolution of paper, “the non-realistic search of the history of paper and writing,” as she put it.

Vouvoula Skoura was born in Thessaloniki and studied graphic design at the Technological Institute of Athens. During the seven-year dictatorship, she lived and worked in London. In 1974 she became one of the founding members of Athens’s Art Center. She got involved in various experimental techniques in photography, which she used in her prints and her film. Movies and videos of hers have been screened in more than 50 cities around the world.

Her films “Esoteriki Metanastefsi” and “Skoria Fotos” were distinguished with a special prize at the Short Film Festival in Drama (Drama, a northern Greek city) and her video “Mavro Feggari” won first prize at the 1998 Video Art Competition in Athens. She has worked with the Athens Concert Hall, the Regional Municipal Theater of Patras, the Brussels-based Theatre Royal de la Monnaie, the Greek National Theater’s Summer Theater Academy, the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, the Arts Center Vooruit and other cultural organizations.

What’s On > Patras July 5, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Patras Caltural Capital 2006.
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The 2006 European Cultural Capital

Events take place at different venues around the city. For information, call 2610 368000 or log on to www.patra2006.gr.

– Friday: Ian Anderson, founding member of legendary rock band Jethro Tull, will join forces with the Orchestra of Patras for covers of Jethro Tull favorites and more. At the Roman Odeon.

– July 10: Music and literature evening directed by Theodoris Gonis, with compositions by Nikos Xydakis, featuring singer Melina Kana, narrators Aris Lembessopoulos and Loukia Pistiola and others. At the Achaia Clauss wine-factory.

Patras: Europe’s lively Capital of Culture July 3, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Mainland, Patras Caltural Capital 2006.
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Europe’s lively new Capital of Culture has an unpretenious charm that is hard to resist.

For most tourists, Patras is just a big noisy port on the northern coast of the Peloponnese – a hop-off point for ferry trips to the islands and Italy. Few linger. Not even Byron; he first set foot in Greece here, then promptly left.

But there is a reason to stay. Patras, Greece’s third largest city, is European Capital of Culture for 2006. And as Christos Roilos, co-ordinator of a year-long programme of music, exhibitions and street theatre, explained: “We have 1.5 million visitors passing through each year, so our strategy is to use this event to help us become somewhere people will want to remain.”

It has to be said that although nearly €135 million have been earmarked for regeneration, the work is significantly behind schedule. My walks during a visit earlier last year were punctuated by the sound of pneumatic drills and the sight of potholes and cordoned-off pavements. Yet this noisy mayhem didn’t entirely mask what is an authentic and vigorous city, and one with some surprises.

First stop: an exhibition of old film clips. Shots of local houses devastated during the Second World War and streets swamped by the floods of 1997 painted a moving portrait of a city accustomed to reinvention. And there are echoes of this renewal wherever you go.

Escaping the noisy port area, I climbed the hundred steps from pedestrianised Aghios Nikolaos up to the old town. Here, the Byzantine ruins of the old Kastro preside over a delightful district of calm, narrow lanes. Traffic noise gives way to bird-filled orange groves, and office blocks to country-style villas. A neighbouring odeon, built in AD 150 and seating 2,300 spectators, still stages classical plays and rock concerts. The mountains to the north are a backdrop to the blue expanse of the Gulf of Corinth, with distant silhouettes of Cephalonia and Ithaca.

At St Andrew’s church, you can see remnants of the diagonal crucifix on which this apostle of Greece and Asia Minor was martyred. His skull is preserved in an ornate reliquary.

Nearby is a café-studded square, Plateia Psila Alonia. Shady umbrella pines, cool bars and tremendous views have made it the trendiest spot in Patras. Yet even here the past is present. There’s a sizeable chunk of old Roman wall beneath its southern end, and in the 19th century, when the currant industry brought prosperity, fruit were dried and sorted here.

The homes of the European currant merchants can be seen throughout Patras – grand, pastel-painted neo-classical villas with ornate balconies, many of which are being renovated as part of this year’s cultural programme. But one merchant’s involvement with currant affairs led to something more lasting than dried fruit.

Spotting the potential in the rolling hills of Achaia, Gustav Clauss, a Bavarian, set up Greece’s first commercial bottling plant. His winery, Achaia Clauss, is now famed for Demestica, and Mavrodaphne, the second oldest sweet wine after port.

The winery’s mementoes include handwritten orders from Bismarck and Liszt, and a note from Alistair MacLean thanking the producers for naming one of their wines “Navarone”.

Back in the city, Patras’s huge student population flocks to innumerable bars, from the sugar-pink retro-chic of Si Doux on Patreos Street to the stylish cafes flanking Aghios Nikolaos. There is not a Starbucks in sight. From the terrace of Palaion bar, I watched a tipsy parade of pre-carnival revellers decked out in tricorn hats, velvet cloaks and fancy ball-gowns, swaying in time to the strains of a bouzouki, before stopping at a nearby bar to refuel.

In contrast, Ichthyoskala, a no-frills fish shack located by the port, had me settling into the real Greece. Gnarled fishermen eyed me with curiosity. The waitress looked baffled. Not a tourist in sight. Yet I soon felt perfectly at home. Having chosen my fish from a wooden crate, I enjoyed a delicious supper of grilled sole, halva smeared with honey and a complimentary carafe of Mavrodaphne.

If you like Greece to be gritty rather than pretty, Patras takes some beating.

Patras basics

Stay in Patras at the boutique Primarolia Art Hotel, 2610-624900, www.arthotel.gr/primarolia

For details of the Capital of Culture programme see www.patras2006.gr.