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Culture

Kazantzakis Film Avant Premiere in New York City

December 11, 2017

NEW YORK – The New York premiere of the much-anticipated film Kazantzakis by Iannis Smaragdis took place at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) Auditorium on December 10. The event was dedicated to Nikos and Carol Mouyiaris, in loving memory of their son Alexis Mouyiaris.

The director Iannis Smaragdis and his wife and producer Eleni Smaragdis, welcomed the guests and gave an introductory speech at the opening of the event. The film’s protagonist Marina Kalogirou who plays Eleni Samiou, Kazantzakis’ wife in the film, also attended as did Anthoula Katsimatides who plays Chrysoula Puarie- the Kazantzakis’ neighbor in France.

Among those invited to attend this first screening were all the Greek-American sponsors who made it possible for the film to travel abroad; the heads of the Greek-American and the Cypriot-American organizations, and the expatriate media, including the Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras with his wife Popita Pavli, and Spyridoula-Ioanna Zochiou- Consul of Greece. Among those present were Ambassador Vasilis Philippou- Consul General of Cyprus in New York, Olga Bornozi- Capital Link Managing Director, James Demetro- President of the Greek Film Festival New York, Michael Hartofilis- former president of the Hellenic Lawyers Association, and The National Herald Publisher-Editor Antonis H. Diamataris and his wife Litsa. More than 250 participated to honor Iannis Smaragdis and Nikos and Carol Mouyiaris.

The film premiered in Greece on November 15 with a screening in Crete, followed by the official premiere in Athens on November 20 at the Pallas Theatre.

The Greek Ministry of Culture declared the year 2017 as the Year of Nikos Kazantzakis, marking 60 years since the death of the great author and intellectual.

With this film, world renowned, award-winning Greek director Iannis Smaragdis aims to elevate the inspiring personality of writer Nikos Kazantzakis, as well as magnify Greece’s magical scenery, where the writer’s spirit developed. Through this film the director wishes to convey the Cretan author’s ecumenical dimension, in the hope that it will make all the Greeks proud, in Greece and abroad.

Brilliantly portraying the main character of Nikos Kazantzakis is actor Odysseas Papaspiliopoulos, while the wonderful Marina Kalogirou portrays his partner, Eleni. Eight-year-old Alexandros Kambaxis is young Nikos Kazantzakis and Stefanos Lineos is the writer in his mature age.

The moving film left many in the audience with tears in their eyes for the emotionally powerful depiction of the writer and his wife as well as the stunningly beautiful images of Greece and the sea that left many longing for the homeland. A Q&A session followed the screening in which the film’s director received the congratulations and praise of the audience and answered their questions about the making of the film.

The script was based on Kazantzakis’ Report to Greco, the fictionalized account of Kazantzakis’s own life, a sort of intellectual autobiography framed as a report to the Spanish Renaissance painter, and fellow Cretan, El Greco.

Smaragdis said that this film had to be made, it had to exist, and he thanked his wife who, he added, is an angel who lends him her wings during the filmmaking process and then he returns them to her at the end so as not to leave her wingless. The director/screenwriter also thanked Olga Bornozi for her efforts in bringing the film to New York, calling her an angel as well.

Among the distinguished cast of the film, Argyris Xafis portrays Kazantzakis’ father and Maria Skoula his mother. Actor Nikos Kardonis skillfully recreates the flamboyant poet Angelos Sikelianos and Amalia Arseni is his wife Eva, Itka is played by Youlika Skafida, Alexandros Kollatos is Jules Dassin, Zeta Douka is Melina Merkouri, and Adrian Frieling is Dr. Heilmayer. In his final role, the late Stathis Psaltis- best known for his comedic performances, played against type as the abbot of Mount Sinai.

The film production included French co-producer Vincent Michaud, director of photography Ari Stavrou, music composer Minos Matsas, costume and set director Giorgos Patsas, and editor Stella Filippopoulou.

More information about the film is available online at: www.kazantzakismovie.com.

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