Festival brings life to the streets

Following on from last year’s successful experiment, the Hymettus Festival is once more expanding its activities to the local neighborhoods. At a recent press conference, held to present the festival program, Hymettus Mayor Christos Zoupas, his deputy responsible for culture, Giorgos Karachalios, and artistic director Paraskevas Karassoulos all stressed that last year’s initiative succeeded somewhat in restoring the old neighborhood feeling that is now almost lost. «Street Celebrations,» the first part of the 22nd Hymettus Festival which kicks off tonight and will run to July 13, features a variety of events that take place in squares, in the streets and in local parks and schools. «We were very anxious last year because the undertaking was very daring, but we had a massive response and people were very enthusiastic,» said Karachalios. «We want this festival to have something of that old feeling of cultural communication – which is now so rare – and get people out of their boxes,» added the mayor. Much richer than last year, «Street Celebrations» will cover seven different fields: there will be music and theater, children’s activities, a Mediterranean Documentary Festival, the so-called «art walks,» a pottery meeting, gastronomy lectures and workshops as well as a film tribute to the late filmmaker Jules Dassin. Last year, events focused on poetry and music. This year’s theme is the Mediterranean and Karassoulos said that hopefully next year it will be Europe. The music program gets under way tonight, with a concert by entechno masters Manolis Mitsias and Rita Antonopoulou in front of the Hymettus Town Hall. Live music highlights include a concert by the Patras-based pop and rock act Raining Pleasure this Friday and a tribute to Amalia Rodrigues, Edith Piaf and Danae by Sonia Theodoridou on July 8. The program will further include Eastern melodies by Haig Yazdjian on July 4, a tribute to Nikos Gatsos by Doros Dimosthenous on July 6, Tunisian songs by Lamia Bedioui and Leonidas Maridakis on July 9, French songs by Melina Tanagri on July 10, a musical dialogue between Greek singer Giorgis Christodoulou and Barcelona-based artist Jacques Casanova on July 13 and more. Children will have the opportunity to enjoy themselves through a variety of activities, including shadow puppet theater performances by Athos Danellis July 2 to 4 as well as workshops and performances by the Helix street theater company on July 5 and 6. Starting June 30 and running to July 3, the Mediterranean Documentary Festival, each day focusing on different issues, will feature documentaries from Cyprus, Albania, Greece, Italy, Palestine and other places, as well as a tribute to Roviros Manthoulis. «This way we hope to bring documentaries to the public, because they are usually not accessible,» said Karassoulos. There will also be open-air cinema performances this Thursday to Sunday as well as a tribute to Dassin July 10 to 13. At the three-day Mediterranean pottery meeting, held July 11 to 13, potters from Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Israel, Tunisia, Italy, Spain, France, Egypt and Portugal will present their traditional techniques, accompanied by the screening of documentaries. Fans of cooking will be able to attend a variety of workshops: there will be pastry-making by Stelios Parliaros this Friday, Greek pies by Myrsini Lambraki and Toula Retsiniotou on July 4, a meeting between chefs Yiannis Baxevanis and Jeromes Serres on July 5, as well as a revealing session on the secrets of aubergines by Lambraki and chef Costas Vassalos on July 9. Curated by Iris Kritikou, banners depicting different approaches to the Mediterranean landscape by a variety of artists will be hung outside windows and along the streets. The second part of the festival, consisting of music and theater performances, will take place at the Vrachon Theater August 25 to September 26. The program has yet to be finalized, but so far highlights include Karolos Koun’s legendary production of Aristophanes’ «Birds,» the 1st ECM festival with artists of the ECM label, the world premiere of Eleni Karaindrou’s music for Theo Angelopoulos’s film «The Dust of Time,» a concert by Nicola Piovani and Christos Thivaios and much more. For information: tel 213.203.7819,