ATHENS – The reports of the death of famed Greek film director Costa Gavras were not only greatly exaggerated but wrong, with the Associated Press falling for a fake Tweet it believed was from the Greek Culture Minister and posting a story of his demise before quickly spiking it.
The very much alive Gavras came on Greek state TV to show the story was wrong. He is renowned for his 1969 political thriller Z, set in France but really a disguised fictionalized account of the assassination of Greek politician Grigoris Lambrakis in 1963 – which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film.
The Greek Foreign Ministry said the posting came from a fake Twitter account, another incident of fake news making its way into the mainstream media.
The AP account said the tweet about the death of Gavras, who is 85, was incorrectly attributed to Greece’s new Culture Minister, Mysini Zorba, who was just appointed in Cabinet shakeup by Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras.
“Gavras is alive and spoke on Greek state television Thursday (Aug. 30,)” the wire service said in its follow-up report.
Born Konstantinos Gavras in Iraia, Greece in 1933, the filmmaker is known for his politically charged films,. He has also directed at least six English-language movies, including the 1982 Jack Lemmon-Sissy Spacek drama Missing, for which he shared an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.
His other films include 1983’s Hanna K., the 1988 Debra Winger drama Betrayed, 1989’s Music Box, the 1997 Dustin Hoffman-John Travolta thriller Mad City and 2002’s Amen.
He was born Konstantinos Gavras on Feb. 12, 1933 in Loutra Iraias, Arcadia. His family spent the Second World War in a village in the Peloponnese, and moved to Athens after the war.
His father had been a member of the Pro-Soviet branch of the Greek Resistance, and was imprisoned during the Greek Civil War.
His father’s Communist Party membership made it impossible for Costa-Gavras to attend university in Greece or to be granted a visa to the United States, so after high school he went to France, where he began studying law in 1951 and made his career outside his homeland.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)