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The Greek trail at the Oscar awards

09 March 2010 / 17:03:21  GRReporter
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Last November the movie director of Greek origin Louis Psihoyos visited the cinema festival in Thessaloniki in order to present his documentary “The cove or translated “The dolphins gulf”. On Sunday he left from the ceremony for the Oscar awards holding one of the statues – the one for best documentary for 2009.

The movie tells the story of a group of activists, movie makers and divers who have left on a secret mission to enter in a hidden gulf in Japan and discover deeply kept secrets. The secrets which are only revealed on the top of an iceberg.

Louis Psihoyos is born in 1957 in Dubuk, Iowa in the family of emigrants from Sparta, who have left Greece right after the end of the World War two. He studies photography in the University of Missouri and works as a photo reporter for the National Geographic magazine, which he cooperates with for the past 17 years. He has also worked for the daily newspapers Newsweek, Time, New York Times and Sports Illustrated. In 2005 Psihoyos creates the Oceanic Preservation Society which is the main source of information for his movie The cove. 

Another Greek man who was left in the shadow is Tenasis Karatanos – the founder of the German production company Twenty Twenty Vision. This year its production of the movie „Αjami” (crossroads of life) also fought for an Oscar in the category for a foreign movie. “Ajami” is an Israeli-German production, directed by the Palestinian Scadar Copti and by the Israeli Yaron Shani. The act takes place in the Atzami region in Djafa – a place “windmill” of various cultures and conflicting ideas about the world where together are living Jewish, Muslims and Christians.

Producer of the film is Tanos Karatanos who is born in Berlin and has grown up in Athens, because his parents decided to go back in Greece when he was two years old. He nearly became a political scientist, however just before he graduated his studies in Berlin he understood this job is not for him. “I loved the cinema since I was little, however I realized this very late. In spite of this I decided to make a 180 degrees turn” he says in a telephone interview for the newspaper Vima. He says that if he believes it the director he does everything in his power to find the means and make his dream come true. The production company of Karatanos is working with small in terms of budget movies, however he takes the chance and travels all over the world in order to create his movies – Israel, Berlin, Teheran, Kyrgyzstan, New York, Athens, London. About “Crossroads of life” Karatanos says: “One of the directors is Israeli Jewish and the other is Arabian Christian. They themselves represent these contradictions in Dzafa. And this makes it interesting.” The risk when making this movie is that the first one of the two directors and all the actors in it are amateurs. 300 amateurs were tough for one year and only 40 of them remained – nobody knew what the story of the movie was about. Not even during the shooting of the movie which lasted 29 days. “They acted without anybody knowing what will happen because the directors wanted them to be spontaneous and real. As if they were in a documentary.”

“Crossroads of life” reached to the top five movies candidates for an Oscar for a foreign movie after they passed the final stage where nine movies competed. In the top nine however was another movie from the production company of Karatanos which is a co production with Bulgaria – “The world is big and salvation lurks around the world” directed by Stefan Komandarev.


Tags: Cinema Oscar awards documentary
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