The Lost Highway of Greek Cinema

Thirty-five unusual and overlooked films from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s are about to be introduced to a contemporary audience.


For one Monday and one Friday each month for a period of six months, local and visiting cinephiles are being given the unique opportunity to acquaint – or reacquaint – themselves with 35 Greek movies from the past, shown in their original 35mm copies – some with the foreign subtitles, either English or French, with which they were originally shown at film festivals. The works were carefully handpicked by a group of filmmakers who spent an entire summer digging through film archives in order to give a second chance to movies that may have been ignored when they were first shown, or simply forgotten over the years.

The idea behind this unique film club of sorts belongs to the Film Directors/Producers Guild of Greece (ESPEK) and was realized by a team of representatives from the younger generation of Greek cinema; directors/producers Elina Psykou, Yannis Veslemes and Alexis Alexiou, and film historian Afroditi Nikolaidou. Avid movie-goers with in-depth knowledge and understanding of film language, they were excited about the prospect of resurrecting Greece’s neglected filmic past and observe how it correlates, or doesn’t, with today’s environment, the one in which they make their movies.

“We did not choose works we necessarily like or movies we already knew. We chose films that deserve a second chance, either because they are intriguing examples of a specific era in Greek cinema or because they touch upon issues that reveal aspects of Greece’s past. No matter the reason, however, one essential criterion was that we could show them in their original 35mm format, because for us, this was, is, and will always be the ideal one. In fact, Astor Cinema, where the films will be screened, got hold of a 35mm movie projector just for us,” says Veslemes, who also came up with the “Lost Highway” title of the series, a nod to director David Lynch.

The movies, chosen from those 35mm copies that the team could find in good condition, were grouped together under evocative category headings, including: Invisible Threat, Wasted ’80s, Love Letters, Obsessions, Dirty Bread and Endangered Species. At the screenings, the movies will be introduced by Greek filmmakers who were given the task of watching the films beforehand in order to share their impressions with the audience and to encourage a post-screening discussion.

SYNOPSES OF FEBRUARY’S SUBTITLED FILMS* 

Eastern Periphery (1979) by Vasilis Vafeas

A young chemist is looking for a job. First, he goes to a small company, a private family business run by a woman. The organizational level of that business is rudimentary, so the young man becomes disappointed and leaves. Then, he gets a job in the factory of a multinational company, where, under the administration of an American managing director, things are very different. Here, the mechanism is impersonal but very effective. In the new environment the hero slowly starts to feel alienated. As he gradually becomes the ideal supervisor, he realizes that he has lost his humanity and that he has been absorbed by the system. He gets disgusted with himself and the terrible outcome of his professional career.

Nike of Samothrace (1990) by Dimos Avdeliodis

Two brothers from Samos open a shop in Athens. Across the street, another man from Samos opens a car repair shop. The hostility that develops between them is passed down to their grandchildren.

Oh Babylon (1989) by Costas Ferris

The film adaptation for the modern era of the ancient tragedy The Bacchae. Pentheus is celebrating his birthday, and surreal scenes unfold before his eyes, arousing doubts in the celebrant as to whether the things he is experiencing are real.

* Courtesy of the Greek Film Archive

Strange Back When – February's movies

Monday, February 20

18:30 Eastern Periphery (1979) by Vasilis Vafeas – English subtitles

20:15 About Vassilis (1986) by Stavros Tsiolis  – no subtitles

22:00 Nike of Samothrace (1990) by Dimos Avdeliodis  – English subtitles

Friday, February 24

00:30 Oh Babylon (1989) by Costas Ferris – English language

  

Location: Astor Cinema, 28 Stadiou (entrance inside Stoa Korai) – Metro Panepistimio
Entrance Fee: €5 per screening / €7 per day


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