Press Conference: Yannis Smaragdis



A press conference for Yannis Smaragdis was held on Saturday, March 8th at the Olympion Renault theatre in the framework of the special tribute to his work by the 5th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Images of the 21st Century.

Dimitri Eipides, the Director of the 5th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival introduced the Greek director saying that, “Yannis Smaragdis’ contribution to the genres of fiction, documentary and television is very significant and we must all realize just how remarkable his work is”. Dimitris Kerkinos, the coordinator of the special tribute said, “We compiled only a small representative collection of his large work”.

After thanking Mr. Eipides and Mr. Kerkinos for their appreciation of his work, Yannis Smaragdis said: “Often with the passing of time, a director looses touch with the audience. Sometimes our work touches the audience –and releases their energy- and sometimes it doesn’t. As Elitis once said, ‘Time is the greatest judge of all’. Time preserves what is strong and abandons everything else to history”.

In a question regarding the engagement of speech and imagery in the series Thus Spake the City, Yannis Smaragdis said: “I began as a pilgrim of poetry. I entered its temple and it revealed itself to me as a point. Any artist who approaches something must do it lovingly. Our soul is triggered only when it finds itself shuddering. Otherwise there is a void, an obscureness without form. Our souls shudder in front of something that has an emotional impact on us and we give it form in our minds. Kazantzakis once said that artists are God’s skirmishers”.

Yannis Smaragdis spoke about his film Men under the Walls which was previously censored and is now being screened for the first time in the festival: “The film was shot in 1980 for the series ‘ERT in Northern Greece’ and deals with a group of Pomaks in the Didymotiho region who live in caves. The film was censored by the government. In 1981 when the government changed I hoped it would be approved but unfortunately it was censored again!”.

The director is unsure of what the future has in store for him but claimed that for the time being he is busy filming El Greco. Finally, he noted that there is no clear distinction between documentaries, fiction and narrative films and that, “To act intensely, we must be able to feel deeply”.