‘El Greco’ sails with good wind

Time has been wound back a few centuries at the former American army base outside Iraklion, Crete, where filmmaker Yiannis Smaragdis has transformed the exposition center there into a set for his long-awaited feature film «El Greco.» The scene is set in the room of a Venice pension. El Greco (played by Britain’s Nick Ashdon) has fallen in love with the daughter of the duke of Iraklion (Dimitra Matsouka), the man who killed the painter’s father. El Greco (who was born Domenikos Theotocopoulos) has realized that he no longer belongs in Venice and when he voices his reservations to the young woman, she asks him to paint her portrait before he leaves. He kisses her tenderly on the forehead and turns to his canvas. Smaragdis – who has been working on this project for the past seven years – walks around the set giving orders with obvious enthusiasm; both because he is pleased the film has finally got off the ground and because the local community has welcomed it. «Everyone has expressed their love for the project in many different ways,» he says. «There is a good wind in our sails.» «The people playing the noblemen in one scene are important people in Iraklion society, who left their jobs to participate in the film,» he adds. «The most important thing is that the Cretan people have embraced Nick in the role of El Greco,» continues Smaragdis. «My only fear is that I may not live up to the trust they have put in the project.» The film, explains Smaragdis, is partly factual and partly fictional. «We have written, along with screenwriter Jackie Pavlenko, a free adaptation of Dimitris Siatopoulos’s book ‘El Greco, God’s Painter.’» Cast & crew The rest of the cast of «El Greco,» which is expected to screen in mainstream theaters in about a year, comprises, among others, Lakis Lazopoulos, Sotiris Moustakas, Dina Consta, Yiannis Bezos, Giorgos Haralambidis, Giorgos Christodoulou, Eleni Kastani and Tassos Palandzidis. The music has been composed by Vangelis Papathanassiou and the photography is directed by Nikos Smaragdis. The sets have been designed by Damianos Zafeiris and the costumes – over 800 in number – by Spain’s Lala Huete, twice a recipient of the Goya Award.