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ACMI film festival honours auteur Nikos Koundouros

ACMI film festival honours auteur Koundouros, Neos Kosmos, 17 January 2024

Nikos Koundouros in action. Photo: ACMI/Supplied.

Greek cinema enthusiasts will be treated to a week-long film festival in October featuring four classic films by the internationally-acclaimed Greek film director Nikos Koundouros, at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI).

Koundouros, considered an auteur because as a film director he influenced his films so much that he ranks as their author, is considered one of the founders of modern Greek cinema.

Sydney University modern Greek professor Vrasidas Karalis has described Koundouros’s work as so profound that without him “nothing can be understood in the subsequent history of Greek cinema.”

Presented by Australia’s longest running film society, Melbourne Cinematheque, and ACMI, the festival, “Of Men and Monsters: The Cinema of Nikos Koundouros” will run four films for one week beginning on October 16.

The program includes Koundouros’s famous film, “The Ogre of Athens”(1956), which the Greek Film Critics Association once voted as the greatest Greek film of all time. Centred around the theme of mistaken identity in order to criticise post-World War II Greece’s culture of relentless political persecution, it was scripted by the prominent playwright Iakovos Kambanellis, has cinematography by Costas Theodorides (“Stella”) and includes music by Manos Hatzidakis (“Never on Sunday”).

The program also includes the film “Young Aphrodites”(1963) about a prehistoric tale of young erotic and romantic interaction that won him the Silver Bear for Best Director at that year’s 13th Berlin International Film Festival and top prize at the 1963 Thessaloniki Film Festival.

The other two films featured are “The Magic City”(1954) about poverty in the slums of post-war Athens and “1922”(1978) about the atrocities committed against Greeks in the Turkish-Greco War, between 1919 and 1922.

All four films are in Greek with English subtitles.

Koundouros was born in Agios Nikolaos, Crete, in 1926. He studied painting and sculpture at the Athens School of Fine Arts.

During the war, he was a member of the left-wing resistance movement EAM-ELAS, and because of this was subsequently exiled to the Makronissos prison island. He died in 2017 aged 90.

When & where: ACMI, Federation Square, Flinders St, between Hosier Lane and Swanston St, in the Melbourne CBD, between October 16 and 23.