CULTURE

Three Greeks present different worlds from behind their respective cameras

Tassos Boulmetis It is rare for a Greek director, with just a second feature-length film under his or her belt, to experience the popularity enjoyed by Tassos Boulmetis over the past few months. Not a single Greek newspaper or magazine has failed to interview him, publish his comments, or at least mention his film «A Touch of Spice,» while its box-office success (nearly 1 million tickets), in combination with its political context, even attracted the international press. But is widespread publicity, eight national awards and an impressive number of ticket sales enough to say that a film is «phenomenal»? No. The success of «A Touch of Spice» is due to the love with which the public embraced it. Forty-six-year-old Boulmetis was born in Istanbul. He lived through the expulsion of the Greeks from Turkey in 1964 and came to live in Greece with his family. He studied physics at Athens University before turning to film and graduating from America’s UCLA. He worked in advertising and specialized in special effects. His experience as a director is evident in «A Touch of Spice.» One sees that Boulmetis came to terms with his experience with maturity, honesty and integrity. He avoided the frills and sidestepped the trap of presenting a moral tale. And the public knows how to reward him for it.

M.K. Yiannis Behrakis Photojournalist Yiannis Behrakis is behind some of the most striking photographs of the American invasion of Iraq. He has been awarded numerous prizes and distinctions; his photographs from various war zones have made the front pages of some of the world’s great newspapers, UNICEF posters and advertisements for Time. He has been with Reuters since 1987 and today is the chief photographer of its Greek branch. He has traveled to all the war-torn parts of the planet, from Chechnya to Israel. While on a mission in Sierra Leone he came close to losing his life, but even that did not deter him. «Before turning to photography I was blind,» he says. He went back to Iraq in the springtime, to bear witness, once more, to the ordeal of the Iraqi people. We had the opportunity to see some of these photographs in an exhibition in Gazi.

M.P. Yiannis Economidis Yiannis Economidis, director of the film «Matchbox,» has been likened by international critics to a «younger Mike Leigh on speed,» though he walked away from the State Award ceremony in Thessaloniki in November empty-handed. Only the Hellenic Union of Film Critics gave «Matchbox» an award, for «daring to challenge the crumbling Greek family, by filming behind closed doors.» It is true as well. The young filmmaker has been brave enough to strip family relations of all that is conventional and prettified, turning up the tension of their communication to incredible levels. Economidis has taken an unexpected and sharp look at Greek reality, making one of the boldest and most interesting films in a rather cowardly industry. The 35-year-old newcomer was born in Cyprus, came to Athens to study law, left that field and went to the Hadzakou School to study film.

M.K.