A publicity-shy man ‘more Greek than the Greeks’

Dassin did not often speak publicly and made even rarer appearances. In 1993, the Thessaloniki International Film Festival paid tribute to his work, honoring the man who was «more Greek than the Greeks,» a personality who had «the integrity and virtues of the ancients: moderation and an anthropomorphic concept of the world.» Dassin himself said of his own films that they were a «blend of documentary and lyricism.» He put his art in the service of man; his work was pervaded by a humanistic ethic, a deep sense of justice and freedom. In a 2006 interview in Kathimerini magazine K, he said of the McCarthy period: «The blacklisting was a terrible time, but I was lucky. I left and was able to film in eight countries: Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Canada, Israel and, naturally, Greece. I was lucky because many people’s careers ended when they left the USA, it was ‘finis.’ They stayed on the blacklist forever. They were marked,» he said. «Everything was so ugly and false.» He eventually forgave Elia Kazan for cooperating with the McCarthy committee. «That is a long story, with a lot of pain. A whole book. I think he knew very well what he had done in his life. He had done things he was ashamed of. I’m sure of that. I know what he thought about it and I am sorry for him,» he explained. «But he was a great talent, a wonderful director.» At the age of 91, he said in another interview with Kathimerini: «There are so many terrible things going on in the world today. I want to go where there is trouble and tell the truth. To talk about the heart of the trouble… violence.»

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