CULTURE

Premiere Nights to honor late director Max Ophuls

The 13th Athens International Film Festival will honor esteemed director Max Ophuls, whose oeuvre has played a key role in the history of world cinema. Known as Premiere Nights, this year’s festival is scheduled to take place from September 20 to September 30. Ophuls (1902-1957) was one of the rare feminist directors working in the 1940s, while the core of his work is based on the same consistent obsessions. Beautiful, worthy and emancipated women played a major role in his films. His films became defined by contemporary takes, through his continuous, yet light, camera movement, as well as shots from above. His demanding technical shoots influenced an array of younger directors, all of whom incorporated Ophuls’s ideas into their own movies. Among them are Stanley Kubrick (during his early years), Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Pedro Almodovar. Born Max Oppenheimer in Saarbrucken, Germany, Ophuls changed his name in order to protect his family from shame should there be eventual failure on his part in his chosen career. He started off by acting on stage and soon turned to theater production, taking over that position at Vienna’s Burgtheater. Following an invitation by Anatole Litvak, he started working in film in 1931. The rise of Nazism, however, made him flee Germany for France. From there, he went to the United States, where he continued his film career with the aid of Preston Sturges. Ophuls was twice nominated for an Academy Award. Premiere Nights screenings include eight of the director’s overall 25 films: «Liebelei» (1933), «Letter from an Unknown Woman» (1948), «Caught» (1949), «Roundabout» (1950), «House of Pleasure» (1952), «Diamond Earrings» (1953) and «Lola Montes» (1955). Also part of the tribute is «Le Chagrin et la Pitie,» an anti-Nazi documentary directed by Marcel Ophuls, the late director’s son.