Japan gets image of modern Greece through cinema

It’s no small thing coming across people living at the other end of the world with a keen interest in Greek cinema. And who would imagine the dean at Tokyo’s Keio University – who happens to be fluent in Greek – delivering a lecture on «Light and Shadows in Greek Films.» That is why Voula Georgakakou’s enthusiasm and emotion – Georgakakou is in charge of the Greek Film Center’s Hellas Film division – were entirely justified when she returned from a recent trip to Japan. There, she represented Greek cinema at a small festival/symposium organized by the arts department of Keio University. The event was organized on the initiative of the Greek Embassy in Tokyo. The symposium’s subject was new Greek film, presenting four relatively recent films: Tassos Boulmetis’s «A Touch of Spice,» Costas Kapakas’s «Peppermint,» Dimitris Indares’s «Totally Married» and Nikos Grammatikos’s «King.» The four films cover a broad range of subjects, from memories and childhood to Greek society’s contemporary face and the way immigrants adapt and are accepted here. At the symposium, Professor Ikuzi Hori talked extensively about the oeuvre of filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos, in his lecture on «History, Myth and Politics.» «Their knowledge and love for our country is so great, it’s nearly embarrassing,» said Georgakakou, adding that what the Japanese were really after was to get an image of modern Greece through cinema. In Japan, the world of Greek cinema is not only about the past (its strongest ties are with Angelopoulos) but very much about the present («A Touch of Spice» has already been released while the script from Penny Panayiotopoulou’s award-winning «Hard Goodbyes: My Father,» has also been translated into Japanese). Greek cinema is also looking ahead to the future: Georgakakou agreed to follow up the mini-festival with a tribute (also in Japan) to Greek films based on Greek literature.