July 26, 2011

GREECE: Acclaimed director Cacoyannis passes away at 89

ATHENS, Greece / Express.gr / Greek News / July 26, 2011

Internationally acclaimed film director, screenwriter and producer Michael Cacoyannis died in and Athens hospital in the early morning hours on Monday at the age of 89.

The director of the award-winning films 'Zorba the Greek' and 'Stella', Michael (Michalis) Cacoyannis was born in Limassol, Cyprus, and was sent by his father to London in 1939 to become a lawyer, but after producing Greek-language programmes for BBC World Service during WWII he developed an interest in film instead, ending up at the Old Vic school and enjoying a brief stage career as "Michael Yannis", before beginning to work on films. Having trouble finding a directing job in the British film industry, Cacoyannis moved to Greece and in 1953 made his first film "Windfall in Athens".

He is best known for his 1964 film 'Zorba the Greek', and in 1983 directed a Broadway revival of the musical based on Zorba.

Most of his work is rooted in classical texts, particularly those of the Greek tragedian Euripides. He was nominated five times for an Academy Award (Oscar), receiving the Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film nominations for 'Zorba the Greek' and two nominations in the Foreign Language Film category for 'Electra' and 'Iphigenia'.

Anthony Quinn and Alan Bates during filming for Zorba The Greek in 1964. Photo: REX

Cacoyannis worked on many occasions with renowned Greek actress Irene Papas, teaming up with her in 1971 for the film 'The Trojan Women' starring Hollywood legend Katharine Hepburn, and was a close friend of Darryl F. Zanuck and George Cukor.

A pioneer of post-war Greek cinema and director of international hits, Cacoyannis refused a career in Hollywood, opting for quality theater. He also founded the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation for the study and support of the film and theater arts.
He died early Monday at Evangelismos Hospital in central Athens, where he had been hospitalised for 10 days.

Copyright ©2011 express.gr
Credit: Reports and photographs are property of owners of intellectual rights.
Seniors World Chronicle, a not-for-profit, serves to chronicle and widen their reach.