NEW YORK – Olympia, a documentary film about Academy Award-winning actress Olympia Dukakis, directed by Harry Mavromichalis makes its European premiere at the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival on March 2.
Resistant to being defined solely as a woman in a male-dominated society, Olympia Dukakis struggles to find a sense of belonging in this powerful, witty and emotional documentary that truly captures the spirit and sense of humor of the talented actress.
Mavromichalis spoke with The National Herald in a previous interview about the making of the film which took about seven years from the initial idea to the realization. He told TNH that he had invited Dukakis to Cyprus to teach a workshop and they became friends. When Mavromichalis asked her about a making a documentary on her life, she initially refused. He said that “it took three months” to convince the acclaimed actress to participate in the film.
Dukakis does not disappoint in sharing details of her life. It is not in her nature to pull punches as her many roles on stage and screen have demonstrated throughout her career, but in life too, she is outspoken and fearless in stating her opinions. In the film, we see her preparing for recent stage roles, in photos and clips from her career highlights, and also in family photographs and home movies.
Her contentious relationship with her mother is revealed early on which her rebelliousness did not make easier as she was growing up in Lynn, MA. Among those who add their comments in the film are her brother Apollo Dukakis, also an actor, and cousin Michael Dukakis, the former Governor of Massachusetts and Democratic presidential candidate. The film also clarified the relationship in a visit to the Dukakis’ ancestral village, Pelopi in Lesvos, where a group of local women noted that everyone thought she was Governor Dukakis’ sister, but no, she explained, they are cousins, their fathers were brothers. She also visited her mother’s village in the Peloponnese and the archeological site at Mycenae, among other areas of Greece and Cyprus.
Mavromichalis has captured the essence of this extraordinary woman, her sense of humor, the spirit that her late husband, fellow actor Louis Zorich, fell in love with and that continues to draw the admiration of the audience for this talented performer. The film is funny and emotional as Dukakis brings us into her story, revealing the struggles from early on and the strength of her character, and her courage to be herself in spite of feeling like an outsider from the start. Her story is especially inspiring not only for Greek-Americans but for anyone who struggles with feeling they don’t quite fit in.
The film is dedicated to Dukakis’ late husband, and the moments between the two onstage and off show the depth of this relationship of true equals. Their grown children’s comments add insight into the relationship and the family. The grandchildren also appear in the film.
Mavromichalis said, “Working with Olympia has offered me countless lessons and realizations about the strength of vulnerability.”
More information about the film is available online: olympiathefilm.com.
The trailer is also online: https://www.olympiathefilm.com/the-film-trailer.