Tribute to an artist’s vision

In the film industry today, the vision that late experimental filmmaker Gregory Markopoulos had about how films should be made, distributed and projected seems utopian – one of those dreams that sounds wonderfully idealistic but is never realized. In the case of Markopoulos, this is only partly true. A prolific American filmmaker of Greek descent, he contributed to the advancement of experimental, American films from the late 1940s onward but did not live to see «Eniaios,» one of his biggest film projects (22 cycles of film of a total 80 hours’ duration, essentially, the complete version of his work), printed or projected. Devoid of sound, «Eniaios» interweaves more than 100 films that Markopoulos produced during his 40-year career. When Markopoulos died in 1992, Robert Beavers, who was Markopoulos’s companion in life, as well as his collaborator and a filmmaker himself, undertook the ambitious task of slowly restoring and printing «Eniaios.» The first four cycles have already been completed and will be screened in what is the film’s international debut, beginning Friday and over the weekend in Lyssaraia (a small village in the Peloponnese), the birthplace of Markopoulos’s father. An interesting aspect of the forthcoming event is that it constitutes a revival of what was perhaps Markopoulos’s grandest project, the so-called «Temenos,» a project that Markopoulos initiated in 1980 simultaneously with «Eniaios» and is now being continued by Robert Beavers. «Temenos» and «Eniaios» were complementary projects that Markopoulos worked on in conjunction. «Temenos» expresses Markopoulos’s distinctive and uncompromising vision of filmmaking as a complete entity that encompasses filming, as well as distribution and the screening of a film under specific conditions. Markopoulos wished to have control over each and every stage of the process in the hope that his public was provided with an immediate experience of art, untainted by the film industry. It was an idealist approach to movies and movie-going that, to a certain degree, grew out of the artist’s disillusionment with the film industry (he removed his films from active distribution in the late 1960s) which, to some extent, ended up making much of his work inaccessible. The revival of «Temenos» began in the early 1980s, when Markopoulos returned to his father’s birthplace in the Peloponnese and organized an event that involved the screening of his films at open-air theaters. But as attendance gradually dwindled, the project was abandoned in 1986, as were the plans for a specially constructed theater and library (also in Lyssaraia), both vital aspects of the «Temenos» project (temenos means sanctuary). Years after Markopoulos’s death, Beavers is bringing this project to its gradual realization. Having founded Temenos Inc in 1995, and later the Temenos Association, he began the vast restoration and reprinting of Markopoulos’s works, and is helping to bring together the «Eniaios» and «Temenos» projects as they were originally intended. The event which begins on Friday involves a total of 15 hours of screening to begin every evening at 9.30 and is expected to be attended by an international crowd of filmmakers. On the occasion of the event, Agra Publications has also released a book of the artist’s essays on film. This is yet one more tribute to an artist who influenced filmmaking but also expanded the very notion of a filmmaker. Screenings of «Eniaios» begin this coming Friday through Sunday in Lyssaraia in the prefecture of Arcadia in the Peloponnese. For info: Info on accommodation in the area can be found at: [email protected].

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