Journey through a life in 3 films

The end may be in sight, his endurance failing, but director Theodoros Angelopoulos’s voice quickens and his eyes glow when he describes scenes from his new movie trilogy, just a few days before shooting begins. At Lake Kerkini in northern Greece, filming of the first scenes of the famous Greek director’s new three-part film, whose first part bears the name The Weeping Meadow (To Livadi pou Dakryzei), will soon begin. There, the director has constructed the set for a refugee settlement of 100 households. And this is not the only detail which suggests the colossal nature of the work. In the port of Thessaloniki, at the back of the historically listed Fix factory, the city appears as it did in the 1930s. Approximately 100 wooden and brick houses will fill with life and movement over the next few months. The houses were built one by one, personally overseen by the director and by set designers Giorgos Patsas and Costas Dimitriadis. What’s happening is without precedent in terms of Greek productions, said Angelopoulos, who is one of the few directors that can do what he likes, uncertain, however, if he will continue to enjoy this privilege in the future. At a first reckoning, the trilogy’s budget is put at 6 billion drachmas. The first part is expected to cost 1.7 billion drachmas. The director’s bold conception includes a whole village which sinks under the waves. The settlement on Kerkini will be flooded and the camera will observe its disappearance inch by inch. When the sets have been covered by one and a half meters of water, I will film the people on the roof, said the director. His director of photography will be Andreas Sinanos. The story begins in Odessa in 1919-1920, during the entrance of the Red Army and the exit of some of the inhabitants, when the main characters, a boy and a girl of five and three years of age, together with other refugees, arrive at the port of Thessaloniki. The first part concludes in 1949. In the second part, The Third Feather (To Trito Ftero), the same characters will be shown from 1953 (the eve of Stalin’s death) to 1974. The film will be shot in Durres in Albania, Tashkent in Uzbekistan, Siberia, Moscow, Trieste, New York and the US-Canadian border. Part three, The Eternal Return (I Aionia Epistrophi) takes place almost entirely in the USA and follows the heroes in their old age. The entire trilogy focuses on the life of one woman throughout the century, and one love. The strongest element in the film is the woman; the man is more vulnerable, Angelopoulos summarized. One of the greatest difficulties was in meeting the demands of the scenario and in choosing protagonists belonging to the successive age groups. Nikos Poursanidis and Alexandra Aidini are the two young actors (first-year students at the National Drama School) who will appear in the first part. Nikos Poursanidis’s first role was in Vassilis Vafeas’s Every Saturday (Kathe Savvato), playing the son of Costas Voutsas. The middle-aged protagonists will probably be played by Ilias Koteas and Melina Kanakaridi. As for the third part, Angelopoulos will be seeking actors in Russia. This epic production – the first part will be shown in 2002 at the Venice Film Festival – would not be possible without the spontaneous support of many people, the regional head of Central Macedonia, the Thessaloniki Port Authority, hoteliers, manufacturers and private individuals, to name just a few. The official sponsors are the National Film Center (1 billion drachmas), state television (450 million drachmas), France (1 billion drachmas), and the countries of Italy, Germany and Russia (1 million dollars). These sums cover the entire production.

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