CULTURE

Greek director travels the world to promote film

In the last two months, Theo Angelopoulos has been traveling non-stop, racking up a maximum of kilometers in a short period of time. A very short period, that is, given that, beginning from Canada, he made a quick stop in the United States before crossing over to Mexico, went on to spend 24 hours in Brussels, popped over to Amsterdam, returned to Athens and then was off again, this time for Pusan, as a guest of the international Korean film festival which is paying tribute to his work this year. Just before embarking on the last leg of his recent travels, the director appeared energetic and content as he narrated his experiences to a small group of journalists in his Exarchia office recently. Indeed, as the years go by, though his growing fame is increasingly recognized with tributes and special publications around the world, his office space becomes increasingly cramped. One careless gesture and the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or becomes a threat to the award standing next to it, while the Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion could do with some polishing. Dozens of other awards cover shelves and walls, up to the most recent, a gigantic mug («for coffee,» he says jokingly), a memento from a retrospective organized by a cinephile film festival in Colorado. So far, «The Weeping Meadow» has secured distribution in 30 countries. «It’s still behind ‘Eternity and a Day,’ which was screened in 45 countries,» notes the director. Angelopoulos’s narration of his transatlantic visits are vibrant: «My journey began in Montreal, followed by Toronto and from there it was on to Mexico. An impressive welcoming. I must have signed about 1,000 posters! I gave two master classes, one in Mexico and another one in Guadalajara. The poverty is unimaginable. Yet for all the lack of wealth, there is an excess of emotion to make up for it. Their film schools are exemplary, featuring the kind of equipment that not even we, as professionals, have over here…» Coming up in 2005 is a trip to London and then another one to Moscow, where a major retrospective, complemented by set design and photographic exhibitions, will take place in March. Other activities include a luxury release, featuring three DVDs, which was recently launched in Japan; a tribute in Diavazo magazine, featuring texts by Greek and foreign authors (including one written by Italian writer Antonio Tabucchi, who is scheduled to collaborate with the Greek film director in the future) as well as an opulent edition of «The Weeping Meadow,» which will be presented in Thessaloniki. Meanwhile, as the president of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, Angelopoulos is personally inviting foreign directors. Among them is Hungarian director Miklos Jancso, who will act as president of the jury this year. Amid a plethora of activities during these totally «contradictory and confusing» times, Angelopoulos remains an astute observer of the world. «Some of the things going on today would be explosive if they were unraveling in different times. Look at Iraq and Bush, for instance. The Palestinian issue has never been so heated and paranoid. How does one era close in order for a new one to begin? The wounds are still open and there is no visionary relationship with the future. One gets the feeling that, in the historical sense, whatever happens goes to waste. All efforts are wasted. We have reached the stage of accepting the inevitable…»