Pantelis Voulgaris retrospective

Athens has never paid much tribute to Pantelis Voulgaris’s work, despite the film director’s tender approach to the city in his film «Isiches Meres tou Avgoustou» (Quiet Days of August). The fact that cities like New York, London and Thessaloniki have, over the years, organized such tributes has caused a certain embarrassment, until now, that is, for the Athinais Cultural Complex in Athens has decided to do so too. In a weeklong tribute from April 11 to 17, the Athinais, in collaboration with the Greek Film Center, will present all of the director’s works. The tribute coincides with final preparations for the filming of Voulgaris’s next film, «Nyfes» (Brides), which, after numerous delays, is due to begin in May. «This is my life’s greatest adventure,» Voulgaris announced last November upon receiving the Golden Alexander Award at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival. «Sometimes I wonder why I am so keen on it, but then again I have a real passion for history and feel I have found the perfect actors for the characters. I think that ‘Nyfes’ has the same dynamic as ‘Petrina Chronia’ (Stone Years). Although a lot of time has gone by and it may have affected my initial idea, every time I read the script, I am so moved I want to do it.» Writer Ioanna Karystiani wrote the script of «Nyfes,» and work for the film first started in 1997. Various funding problems resulted in constant delays in the film’s materialization; at some point, even the name of Martin Scorsese’s company was mentioned in relation to funding. Now it seems that finally money is no longer a thorny issue as the Greek Film Center, the Ministry of Culture, Alpha television channel and the Eurimages program will all contribute financially. If everything goes according to plan, the film will be ready by the end of 2003. During the tribute, the public will have the opportunity to see all three of Voulgaris’s short films («O Kleftis,» «Tzimis o Tigris» and «O Choros ton Tragon») as well as nine long features: «To Proxenio tis Annas,» «O Megalos Erotikos,» «Happy Day,» «Eleftherios Venizelos: 1910-1927,» «Petrina Chronia,» «I Fanella Me To 9,» «Isiches Meres tou Avgoustou,» «Acropol» and «Ola Ine Dromos.» Also on the program are some of the documentaries that he has directed for ERT state television. When London’s Riverside Studios first showed a few of Voulgaris’s films, the director spoke about his relationship with cinema and the early stages of his career which started after he gave up on his studies. «I felt that my only way out was art, and especially film. During my last years in high school, I even changed my name to Pat Buckle! In my early films, I was trying to figure things out about myself. For the policeman in ‘O Kleftis’ (The Thief), I borrowed elements from my father who was also a policeman. ‘To Proxenio tis Annas’ (The Matchmaking of Anna) is my revenge on my family. Every Sunday, we used to gather at one of my mother’s six sisters’ houses and we would exchange stories. After the film, they all hated me. I used to also attend courtroom sessions, to follow the procedure between the plaintiff and the defendant. I gathered a lot of material that way that I later used in my films.» When asked whether he would compare Greece at the end of the 20th century with Greece as he described it in «To Proxenio tis Annas,» he declined. «Anna does not exist anymore, she has been replaced by a Russian girl or a girl from the Philippines. A girl from the Greek countryside is entirely different, although the feelings as well as family strength are still there.»