On Sunday 27 June, the Greek Film Archive will present a newly-restored copy of the unknown masterpiece Fishermen and Fishing, by Leon Loisios, produced in 1961 (22’), narrated by the acclaimed director Stavros Tornes. Along with the world premiere of this new restoration, the Greek classic silent film Social Decay (1932, 50’) by Stelios Tatasopoulos will also be screened with English and French subtitles. The programme will be first presented on 27 June (9:15pm) in the cinematheque’s open-air cinema in Athens and from 28 June to 7 July, the films will be free-to-view online with worldwide access.
The special free screenings and the restoration of Fishermen and Fishing are made possible thanks to A Season of Classic Films, an initiative of the Association des Cinémathèques Européennes (ACE) with the financial support of the EU Creative Europe MEDIA programme. Twenty-two film institutions from all over Europe, including the Greek Film Archive (Ταινιοθήκη της Ελλάδος), are taking part this year in A Season of Classic Films. The initiative offers free access to restored European films, connecting the public with cinema history and the preservation of film heritage.
Ψαράδες και ψαρέματα [Psarades kai Psaremata] (Fishermen and Fishing) | Greece, 1961, 22′ (documentary)
Director: Leon Loisios. Producer: Leon Loisios, SPECTA. Crew: Director of Photography: Fotis Mesthenaios, Research advisor: Costas Ananiadis, Narration: Stavros Tornes, Narration text: Dimitris Kehaidis, Yiannis Bakogiannopoulos, Music: Yorgos Sisilianos, Editing: Roviros Manthoulis. Physical characteristics of first release: 35mm, 22’, B&W, sound, Greek. Film copy screened during A Season of Classic Films: New restoration. DCP, 22’, B&W, sound, Greek. Available subtitles: English, French. Copyright: Leon Loisios.
The short documentary Fishermen and Fishing depicts all forms of traditional fishing and the life of fishermen of the Molyvos community on the Greek island of Lesvos, as it transposes us to island life of 1961, through a series of images from another era. Fishermen sail in the open sea on a purse seine; a view of the settlement of Molyvos; the narrow cobbled-pavements and the Castle; women chatter and weave outside of their homes. One could say that this is an attempt to inaugurate the cinema of observation in Greece. The anthropological gaze celebrates the poetics of fishing and the rites of communal life. Loisios’ film was a collective effort of people who would become prominent figures in the fields of cinema and film criticism in Greece.
The restoration and digitisation of the documentary in 2Κ was processed from the original film negative and other available archival materials. The sound was also digitally restored and a new 2K copy is now available.
Κοινωνική σαπίλα [Koinoniki Sapila] (Social Decay) | Greece, 1932, 50′ (fiction)
Director: Stelios Tatasopoulos. Producer: Fyzio Film. Cast: Stelios Tatasopoulos, Danai Grizou, Tzoli Garmpi, Kimon Spathopoulos, Kostas Logariastakis. Crew: Screenplay: Stelios Tatasopoulos, Cinematography: Michalis Gaziadis. Physical characteristics of first release: 35mm, 50’, B&W, silent, Greek intertitles. Film copy screened during A Season of Classic Films: DCP, 50’, B&W, new recorded music score by K.Bhta, Greek intertitles. Available subtitles: English, French. Copyright: Greek Film Archive.
Social Decay is the first Greek social realist film, precursor of neorealism in Greece. It is the first Greek fiction film to focus on the plight of the unemployed and poor working-class populations of the urban centres, and struggles for the formation of trade unions. The majority of the actors were amateurs and even used pseudonyms. Given that trade unionism and any other mobilisation and protest, which could be labelled as communist, was persecuted as an “illegal and offensive act” under the 1929 Venizelos Act, the shooting of the film, was in itself a rather risky business. The film also run into trouble with censorship because it depicted drug addiction. As such, its first screenings resulted in police interventions and screening cancellations.
The director of the film Stelios Tatasopoulos was only 25 years old when he shot Social Decay, his debut film. He wrote the screenplay and enacted the leading role of the poor student, who becomes an actor but leaves the theatre, when his girlfriend, the leading actress, abandons him for a rich industrialist. After a near fatal fall to the heart of the Athenian underworld, from where he is saved by a group of tobacco workers, he works in the tobacco factory and becomes a trade union activist.
The film is accompanied by an original musical score by renowned composer Konstantinos Vita. The digital restoration was realised in co-operation with Documenta 14: Learning from Athens with Cinémathèque royale de Belgique / Koninklijk Belgisch Filmarchief as partner, Cosmote TV as co-producer, and the support of the Greek Film Centre. Thanks to the support of A Season of Classic Films, French subtitles will also be available.
ABOUT THE ASSOCIATION DES CINÉMATHÈQUES EUROPÉENNES (ACE)
The Association of European Cinematheques (Association des Cinémathèques Européennes – ACE) is an affiliation of 49 European national and regional film archives. Its role is to safeguard the European film heritage and make the rich audiovisual records collected and preserved by the various film archives accessible to the public. ACE is a regional branch of FIAF (Fédération Internationale des Archives du Film/ International Federation of Film Archives).
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