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[29/09/2009]  Published by Greek Film Archive

Opening of the new premises of the Greek Film Archives at Lais, Kerameikos. Friday 09/10/09 - Sunday 11/10/09

ARCHITECTURAL CONCEPT
BEHIND THE NEW FILM ARCHIVE
There-established cinema Laisislocatedatthejunction of the streets Iera Odos and M. Aleksandrou at Metaxourgeio, a new culturally growing neighbourhood in Athens.

The Greek Film Archive with his moving aspires to promote a cultural area of national range.The design concept for the new premises of the Greek Film Archive was influenced by two important factors. The first was the sitting of an important cultural centre in the now-emblematic area on the crossroads of two major arteries, Iera Odos and Pireos streets, on the junction of three neighbourhoods: Kerameikos, Gazi and Metaxourgeio. The second factor was the architectural approach to an old post-World War II building that used to house a car repair shop and that was of little architectural value on its own, but which had a certain sentimental and historical value due to the open-air movie theatre Lais, which operated on its rooftop from 1948 to 1975.

We chose to return this neutral, 60-year-old building, Lais, to its original look. A proposal, supported by the Film Archive, to have the building listed as a monument for preservation cemented our commitment and contributed to our decision to preserve the industrial character of the building within the context of the urban environment of Iera Odos Street. The only new additions to the building’s exterior are a wooden screen for the open-air movie theatre to keep in the sound and the lateral wall that forms the main entrance to the building. The choice of white for the colour of the entire exterior was made so that the building can stand out from the jungle of drab facades, billboards and industrial spaces that surround it. Indoors, and this is where the greatest challenge lay, we took all of the above into consideration when designing a space that could incorporate all the activities of a modern cinema space that would be appealing to a more eclectic, as well as a broader audience – film screenings, exhibitions, educational activities and research.

 

The Greek Film Archive purchased with financial help granted by the Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public the old movie theatre Lais. The restoration of the movie theatre is included within the Third European Social Fund since November 2003 and it has been financed by the European Union and the Hellenic Ministry of Culture. It is considered to be one of the most modern buildings in Athens and was designed by the well known architects Nikos Belavilas and Vaso Trova.

 
THE PREMISES OF THE NEW GREEK FILM ARCHIVE
 

The restoration and reformation of the old movie theatre results to the gaining of 1.785m2 of inner space, distributed at two levels (basement 482m2, ground-floor 783m2, mezzanine 346m2, chamber 149m2) as well as 700 m2 in the terrace for the function of open air theatre hall.

The ground floor, with two screening theatres – one seating 200 and the other, the cine-club, 50 – is where the heart of the building lies: like light boxes they harbour and share the magic of the art of cinema. Next, in the foyers of the movie theatres we placed an exhibition space for the rare objects that make up the Film Archive’s historical collection.

On the roof, at the open-air Lais cinema – an integral part of Athens’s modern urban mythology with its built-in screen, screening room, staircase and its trademark metallic lighting fixtures – was kept as it was and equipped with all the latest technology. The rest of the building includes a reading room, an archive, administrative offices and storage spaces.

The restoration work began in November 2003 and was co-founded by the European Union and the Ministry of Culture.

 
OPENING EVENTS
 

The official opening of the new premises of the Greek Film Archive will take place from Friday 9  October until Sunday 11 October 2009. This multilateral event will be followed by the beginning of the 6th Avant-Garde Film Festival. The two events will be complementary to each other as they will constitute the matrix of the twelve-day period of the celebration of the “cinephilia”.

 

The opening of the new premises of the Greek Film Archive is organized under the auspices of the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF – International Federation of Film Archives) whose representatives will be present at the official opening. During the four-day period of the opening, Greek directors and foreign guests will introduce the audience to the restored prints that will be screened within the scope of the tribute “Treasures from the Film Archives”.

 
OFFICIAL GUESTS

The opening will be attended by nationally and internationally renowned personalities of cinema and art. At the official opening of the Greek Film Archive, there will be a close collaboration with the representatives of the International Federation of Film Archives for the programme of the selected movies as well as for the meeting-round table that will be held. Amongst Greek guests representatives of ministries, political parties, the municipality of Athens, foreign embassies cultural and educational institutions will also be actively involved and attend the opening events.

 
 
PROGRAMME OF OPENING EVENTS

The Greek Film Archive, being a platform for the promotion important restoration and digitalization projects of the Film Archives will present the recently restored and digitalized prints from other FIAF member archives.

 
 
1.Magic Lantern Show
 
Friday 09/10, 19:00, Cinema A

The show will be accompanied at the piano by Mr. George Dousis.

The event is carried out in collaboration with the USA Embassy in Athens.

 

In their Magic Lantern shows David Francis (Curator of the British National Film Archive, and until recently Head of the Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division of the Library of Congress) and Joss Marsh (Associate Professor of Victorian Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington, USA) explore the extraordinary importance of the fairy tale for visual story-telling in the lantern’s nineteenth-century, using an original magic “bi-unnial” lantern, authentic texts, and hundreds of rare glass slides, in all their dazzling variety.

 

The magic lantern, invented c. 1659, was for 250 years the world’s premiere “screen experience” – the single most important visual entertainment and means of instruction. Cinema’s direct ancestor, the lantern competed with it – courtesy of color, sound, and quality of image – until well into the silent era.

 

Jack the Giant Killer, Cinderella, Aladdin, Bluebeard, Beauty and the Beast, the Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood – the folk cousins of Odysseus the trickster, the monstrous Cyclops and huge Titans, Aphrodite, Eros, Pandora, the nymphs and heroes of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and the creatures of Aesop’s Fables – populate an alternate mythology, and map an alternate psychology of human experience, especially the passage from childhood to manhood, and the flowering of sexuality. They were the inheritance of writers – like Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels – and the inspiration of film-makers, from Méliès to Cocteau to today..

 
2.Treasures of the International Film Archives
 

Two Greek and four foreign recently restored films from both the periods of silent and sound cinema will be projected. The films will be introduced by international and Greek film experts.

 
Pierrot le Fou (1965)
 
Friday 9 October 21.00, Cinema A
Sunday 11 October 23.00, Cinema B

The film will be introduced by Serge Toubiana, director of the Cinemathèque française. The projection will be held with the collaboration of the French Institute of Athens (Institut français d’Athènes)

The subversive film by Jean-Luc Godard in a new restored

Pierrot le fou was restored by digitising the negative of the film in high-definition 2K, as the dupes – interpositive and internegative – were either lost or worn, while the equipment used at the time to make prints from panoramic Tech­niscope elements no longer exists. The digital correction of the colours focused on retrieving the original Eastmancolor colours (Eastman Colour emulsion, Negative 5251), which were beginning to fade, as well as restoring some semblance of definition and sharpness to the image especially in scenes shot in natural light, which Godard shot in Techniscope – the panoramic format brought out by Technicolor Italy in 1963 – which was very flexible in natu­ral light but affected the sharpness of the image. The sound, in turn, was digitised and cleaned of any non-inherent faults in the sound system.

 
The Murderess (1974)
Saturday 10 October, 20.00, Cinema A

The film will be projected at the official opening ceremony whose entrance will be restricted to invite-holders only.

 

Costas Ferris adapted the short story written in 1904 by Alexandros Papa­diamantis for the big screen in 1974 and received the best director award and best actress (for Maria Alkaiou) awards at the 15th Thessaloniki Film Festival. The film’s critical acclaim lies not just in the importance of its fun­damental themes, but also in its unusual narrative form which challenges the conventional linear structure. In contrast, Costas Ferris plays with the concept of time and dredges up the old woman’s memories and experi­ences. He introduces new elements to the technical production process and tweaks the colours to highlights the climaxes. He uses camera move­ment so that it speaks of profound emotions and conflicts. The radical nar­rative form brings the film’s dominant issues to the forefront: love or lack thereof and the meaning of life without it; woman and her role in a society that demands everything of her; the anxiety of existence in the face of the legacy that one receives and bequeaths to the next generation.

 
The Red Shoes (1948)
Sunday 11 October 18.00, Cinema A
 

The film has undergone an extensive 2-year 4K digital restoration, under the initiative of Martin Scorsese, by the UCLA Film and Television Archive, in collaboration with the BFI National Archive, The Film Foundation, ITV Global Entertainment Ltd. and Janus Films, with the support of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the Louis B. Mayer Foundation. The negatives, which were damaged by deterioration, were scanned and digitally restored at Warner Bros Motion Picture Imaging. The new digital negative has been used to strike new 35mm prints, one of which premiered in Cannes on May 2009.

The British film theorist Ian Christie specifically mentions film in his book Arrows of Desire : “Andersen’s tale of a girl who is punished for succumbing to the lure of the red shoes parallels the fatal attraction of the role for the dancer who creates it. […] Despite the unease with which the film was greeted in Britain, the scale of its American suc­cess is widely credited with having created a new popular image and audience for ballet.“

 
Astero(1929)
Sunday 12 October 20.00, hall A

The show will be accompanied at the piano by Filipos Tsalahouris. The entrance is restricted to invitation-holders.

The restoration of Astero was based on a print with French inter-titles that was found at the Cinémathèque Française, in 2003, thanks to the EU-funded Lumière project which was launched in 1992 with the purpose of rediscovering old films in the archives of countries across the globe. The restoration of the only existing copy of Astero is the result of a collaboration between the Greek Film Archive and the Cinémathèque Française.

DAG Film’s third production paints a portrait of the young shepherd-girl Astero, played by the renowned actress Aliki Theodoridou. The screenplay was based on the story by Pavlos Nirvanas, which was, in turn, an adaptation of the novel by the American writer Helen Hunt Jackson, Ramona, a romantic drama that introduced Native American Indian characters and which was made into a film by D.W. Griffith. In the Greek version, Astero is mad with love for a wealthy yet kind shepherd. She comes to her senses only when her beloved decides to listen to his heart rather than the social prejudice of his family.

When Astero first came out in 1929 it heralded an era of popularity for such bucolic adventures and a number of commercially successful films, both silent and talkies, followed in its footsteps. The idealisation of Greek rural life at a time when it was being sorely tried by the Great Depression provided audiences with a much-needed escape from harsh reality. Greek artists and intellectuals had not yet discovered bourgeois and peasant societies as sources of inspiration and films of that era adapted melodramatic motifs from the Greek theatre repertory and from foreign films. In January of 1944 a version of the film with sound and a soundtrack penned by Yiannis Vidalis was released in theatres, while Demos Demopoulos directed a remake in 1959 with screen icon Aliki Vouyiouklaki in the title role that became an instant box office success.

 
People on Sunday (1929-30)
Sunday 11 October 22.00, Cinema A
 
The film will be introduced by Eva Orbanz former director of Deutsche Kinemathek.

The show will be accompanied at the piano by Minas Alexiadis. The screening is carried out in collaboration with the Goethe Institute of Athens (Goethe Institut-Athen)

 

In a restored print by Deutsche Kinemathek, this is the direction debut of the Siodmak brothers and scriptwritter debut of Billy Wilder. The film also features the talents of Edgar G. Ulmer (producer), Fred Zinnemann (cinematography) and Eugen Schüfftan, who had developed the special effects for Metropolis two years previously.

The Nederlands Filmmuseum print was chosen as the basis for the restoration and was completely reprinted. The restoration is of a particular interest, as it results of the juxtaposition of five different prints that were found in the following film archives: Fondazione Cineteca Italiana (Milan), Danske Filminstitutet (Copenhaguen), Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique (Brussels), Cinémathèque Suisse (Lausanne), Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek (Berlin).

Hans Helmut Prinzler in his Chronicle of German Film notes about this film: «Five young people in their leisure time over a weekend: a wine represen­tative, a model, a girl from a record shop, a taxi driver and his sleepy girlfriend. Saturday is spent in the city, Sunday in the country – Five young filmmakers document these events in a poignant manner in this film study. Of the entire cast and crew, only the sound editor Schüfftan was a profes­sional. – The day after the premiere of the film, Siodmak was hired by the Ufa production company».

The documentary Markt in Berlin (1929) by Wilfried Basse, also known from his collaboration with Leni Riffenstal, is included at the same screening session.

 
 
Araya (1959)
Sunday 11 October 21.00, Cinema B
 

The film premiered at Cannes and shared the Cannes International Critics’ Prize with Alain Resnais’s Hiroshima, mon amour. The film portrays a day in the life of three families living in one of the harshest places on earth – Araya, an arid peninsula in north-eastern Venezuela. For 450 years since its discovery by the Spanish, the region’s salt was manually collected and stacked into glowing white pyramids. Benacerraf captures the gruelling work of these “salineros” in breathtaking high-contrast black-and-white images. Her camera gracefully pans and glides to reveal the landscape and the people of the peninsula. When it first premiered, Araya was compared to Luchino Visconti’s La terra trema, but, according to the filmmaker, it was never meant to be a documentary – it was meticulously planned as a tone poem – a composition in which cinematography, music, sound and language combine to create a moving and magical exploration of a desolate place and the remarkable people who lived there. Araya is a film of such lasting beauty that Jean Renoir told Benacerraf, “Above all … don’t cut a single image!”

 
 
 

Round table discussion: Film archives and digitisation in the 21st century

The round table is co-organized in collaboration with Media Desk Hellas. It will be carried out in English and will be open to public. We invite all experts and representatives related to digitisation of audiovisual material to attend the discussion.

 

This discussion will be organized in the context of the opening of the Greek film archive at its new premises at LAIS, and will present the views of experts, archivists and policy makers on the issue of digitisation and film archives in the 21st century. The meeting will be chaired by Eva Orbanz (curator/special projects Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin)

 

The speakers are :Hisashi Okajima (president of FIAF-National Film Centre/National Museum of Modern Art/Tokyo), Maria Komninos (Greek Film Archive, Athens), Eric Le Roy (Archives de Bois d’Arcy-CNC, Paris), Gabrielle Claes (Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique, Brussels), Dr. Rainer Rother (Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin),  Dinko Tukacevic(Jugoslovenska Kinoteka, Belgrade), Manos Efstratiadis (Greek Film Centre).