Derek Jarman retrospective currently in Athens

Derek Jarman, the film director, writer, artist and intellectual, is the subject of a tribute in Athens organized by the Greek Film Library, the School of Fine Arts and the British Council and running until May 10. All his films are being shown with the exception of «Edward II,» of which a copy has not been found. The ticket price of 8 euros for the entire program of 6 p.m. to midnight, or 5 euros for two hours, should be accessible to most cinephiles. Large crowds congregated at the Apollon Cinema for the premiere with the 1986 film «Caravaggio,» written and directed by Jarman and the music score by Simon Fisher Turner, who is in Athens for the tribute. In a fortunate coincidence, three paintings by Caravaggio are on show at the «Caravaggio and the 17th Century» exhibition at the Museum of Cycladic Art, organized in cooperation with the Italian Embassy, and inaugurated by President Karolos Papoulias on April 27. One of the paintings is «Penitent Magdalene,» which was posed for in the film by Tilda Swinton, Jarman’s favorite actress. Negative reviews in The New York Times meant that Jarman did not find sponsors for his films and so turned once more to cheaper Super 8 productions. James MacKay, who for 14 years until Jarman’s death of AIDS in 1994 was his closest associate, said the British Film Institute preferred American-style films with fast action and provided funds for such scenarios from young directors, with the exception of Steven Frears. Jarman might not usually draw crowds, but there were queues in Athens for the premiere. MacKay announced that the Tate Museum of Modern Art had made a hall available for the screening of films and video clips as a continual retrospective of Jarman’s art. Monday’s program has a screening of Jarman’s last film, «Blue,» from 1993, on Tuesday is «Angelic Conversation» (1985), «Glitterbug» and «The Queen is Dead.» On Wednesday, following a screening of Nikos Koundouros’s «Bordello» and before Maria Gavala’s «The Scent of Violet» as part of the separate showings at the Apollon of art and experimental cinema, is Jarman’s «The Garden,» dating from 1990. The Apollon series also includes a screening of Alexis Bisticas’s 1993 film «The Clearing.» Jarman lived until the end of his life in Inverness, Scotland, where he cultivated his garden near the sea. Cinephiles, especially Jarman’s fans, owe the organizers a vote of thanks.