Grand tribute to Takis Kanellopoulos

Τhe grand tribute hosted by the 64th Thessaloniki International Film Festival (2-12/11/2023) will unravel the unique and poetic gaze of the renowned film director Takis Kanellopoulos. Within the framework of the tribute nine films of the visionary auteur from Thessaloniki will be screened, while a part of Kanellopoulos’ work will be restored by the Festival, with the support of the Greek Film Centre. The tribute is matched by an original visual art installation dedicated to Kanellopoulos’ work in the fields of cinema and literature.

Multi-awarded historian and writer Mark Mazower, head of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Public Humanities Initiative (SNFPHI) at Columbia University, will attend the Festival to take part in a discussion, following the screening of the film Glory Sky. The movie will be screened in universally accessible terms, making it available to the entirety of the audience, with no exceptions, as part of the Festival’s programme featuring Alpha Bank as its Accessibility Sponsor.

Takis Kanellopoulos’ deeply idiosyncratic and confessional cinema channels its tenderness towards a series of heroes who fight inner battles and struggle to survive amidst a world that dismisses sensitivity, melancholy and guilt over the wasted chances of life. Transforming the city of Thessaloniki and the Macedonian landscape into an anthropological canvas, while interweaving people’s fate with the burden and the ties nested inside each topos and its memories, Kanellopoulos crafts a deeply lyrical yet solid and experiential universe. The nine fiction and documentary films by Takis Kanellopoulos, screened as part of the tribute, offer a one-of-a-kind chance to the audience to re-discover a filmmaker that provided inspiration for the New Greek Cinema pioneers.

The original visual art installation titled “Takis Kanellopoulos: Dreaming of an Excursion” (curation: Manolis Kranakis, film critic – Artistic Direction & Videos: Nikos Pastras, film director) transforms the West Guardhouse of Entrance at the Gate 1 of Thessaloniki’s Port into an audiovisual capsule that encompasses the obsessions, the anthropogeography and all the symbols that rendered Takis Kanellopoulos one of the most iconic and influential figures in Greek cinema. The Festival permeates into his discernible universe, introducing the younger generation to his films, the Macedonian inland, glorified in his work, the music themes and scores that dress up his films written and performed by legendary names such as Nikos Mamangkakis, Eleni Karaindrou and Giorgos Chatzinasios, as well as his short stories recited by acclaimed writers, actors and directors, such as Zyranna Zateli, Sofia Kokkali, Zacharias Mavroeidis and Takis Kanellopoulos’ muse, Emilia Ypsilanti. The opening of the visual art installation will take place on Monday November 6th at 5.30pm. The building of the West Guardhouse was granted to the Festival for the needs of the installation by the Public Ports Authority. 

In addition, in collaboration with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Public Humanities Initiative (SNFPHI) at Columbia University, the Festival will have the delight of welcoming Mark Mazower on the stage of Olympion. The Festival’s distinguished guest will have a discussion with the Festival’s artistic director, Orestis Andreadakis, on the historical context of the film Glory Sky, its relation with the formal recording of history and the contribution of Takis Kanellopoulos in the formation of our collective national memory. The conversation will be live streamed by the Festival’s social media and the SNFPHI. 

The tribute’s movies:

Macedonian Wedding (1960)

Shot in Velvento, Kozani, Takis Kanellopoulos’ debut film is a short documentary that portrays the ways and customs revolving around traditional weddings in Western Macedonia. A lyric poem on the roots that tie people with an ancient yet already vanished world. The movie won the Best Short Film Award the 1st Week of Greek Cinema, as well as the top prize at the 1961 Belgrade Film Festival.

Thasos (1961)

A unique historical document on the 1960s Thasos, shot in an innovative way and through the distinctive gaze of Takis Kanellopoulos. The director closely observes the daily lives of the local fishermen and their families, with the purpose of grasping - in his own words - “something of the magic and the soul” of this Northern Greek island. Humankind, life in Thasos, the blazing nature lie in the film’s core. The movie was bestowed with a special praise at the 1961 Moscow Film Festival.

Glory Sky (1962)

Glory Sky, one of the best anti-war films of Greek cinema, is based on testimonies and recordings of stories experienced by soldiers who took part in the Second World War. The rutty and serene landscape of Western Macedonia is the film’s main protagonist, as the epic deeds of the Greco-Italian War unfold through poetic one-shot takes and a stripped-down visual language. Gradually, the film’s heroes experience the defeat and the collapse of the front, following the German invasion, like ancient tragedy figures. The movie was screened at many international festivals, among which the Cannes Film Festival (1963), and won the Silver Award at the 1963 Naples Film Festival. The movie will be screened in universally accessible terms for the entirety of the audience, with no exceptions, within the framework of the Festival’s programme featuring Alpha Bank as its Accessibility Sponsor. In particular, the film will be screened with Audio Description for the blind and the visually impaired and Subtitles for the Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

Excursion (1966)

In 1941, as the war reaches its peak, the wife of a lieutenant and a sergeant fall madly in love. The times and the circumstances they are found in – belligerent situation, military duty, friendship between the two men who fight next to one another in the first line of fire – render this love forbidden, but cannot force it to fade out. When the lieutenant is injured in the course of a military operation and led to the hospital, the two lovers, standing up against any moral obligation and commitment imposed to them, dare the only possible getaway. He becomes a deserter and she abandons her husband, as they flee together towards the borders. The movie won the Best Cinematography Award, as well as an honorary distinction for its direction, at the 1966 Thessaloniki Film Festival.

Interlude (1968)

With close-ups that allude to hagiographic icons, juxtaposed to a selection of city snapshots, the story of a 6-hour encounter in Thessaloniki, between a man and a woman, both nameless and with an unspecified origin, unravels before us, against the backdrop of the urban landscape. After many years, the woman recalls this encounter, striving to determine whether it was a burning love born out of the ashes of a sentimental suffocation or just a brief interlude. The movie won the awards for Best Artistic Film, Best Cinematography, Best Direction bestowed by the Greek Association of Film Critics and Best Music, at the 1968 Thessaloniki Film Festival.

The Last Spring (1972)

Amidst the war, four longtime neighborhood friends, three young men and a girl bid farewell to one another, as the latter are leaving for the front, each destined for a different fate. Takis Kanellopoulos explores a gamut of themes, such as the will for freedom, the fear of death, the tragedy of the war, the lust for life.

Memories of a Sunday (1975)

Six stories on the feeling of loneliness despite being surrounded by people, a lyrical depiction of everyday life, as well as the recording of a past era. A coachman is roaming around the city, two elders are strolling in the park every Sunday, a man is deposing flowers in various locations in the city in the memory of a friend who was killed in the war, a boy is recounting the celebration hosted for his father’s name day, a former member of the Resistance is on his deathbed, a woman is waiting for a letter that will never be delivered.

Romantic Note (1978)

The story of the love of four young friends for the same girl, enigmatic Andrianna, who will make a mess of their lives, before vanishing as unexpectedly as she appeared. The uncompromised and die-hard romantic Takis Kanellopoulos focuses on the theme of the lost youth with a film that won an honorary distinction for its cinematography at the 19th Thessaloniki Film Festival.

Sonia (1980)

Summer of 1966. Sonia has been spying through her window on the much-older-than-her music teacher, Tonios, living across the street. When his wife and daughter momentarily leave town, she reaches out to him. As the two of them get to know one another, they will instantly find themselves caught up in a sensitive and romantic love affair. Their days of happiness, though, are soon to be over, as Tonios’ wife and daughter are on their way home.