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Theo Angelopoulos honored at Huesca Film

The director Theo Angelopoulos, born in Athens in 1935, will be awarded the ‘Luis Buñuel’ Award 2009 within the framework of the 37th Huesca Film Festival, which will be held from June 4th to 13th 2009. Theo Angelopoulos, who is one of the most influential directors in contemporary cinema, has received awards at the most important films festivals of the world in recognition of his entire career.
Some of the themes of Angelopoulos’s cinema are the weight of history, a clinical examination of power, a brechtian theatricality, wherein the individual has no importance with respect to the group, a rejection of conventional narration in favour of an intentionally broken one, in which stationary cameras and sequence-length shots create and alternative sense of time.
After studying law, he attended courses at the French School of Cinema. Back in Greece, he was hired as film critic for the daily Allagi, which was closed down by the military junta. In 1970, he completed his first feature film Reconstruction (Anaparastassi), from where emerges an ideological style and approach which sets the film quite apart from the conformism of Greek cinema of the same period. The film won an award at the Festival d’ Hyeres and got noticed in Berlin, calling the attention of critics from all around the world.
His next three films make up a trilogy on the history of contemporary Greece. Days of ’36 (1972) takes place just prior to the election during which General Metaxas imposed his dictatorship. The Travelling Players (1975) received the International Critics’ Award at the Quinzaine des realizateurs at the Cannes Film Festival. The film, largely considered a masterpiece of modern cinema, centers the action on a troupe of actors touring Greece from 1939 to 1952. Functioning on the principle of the “collective memory”, the film deliberately ignores chronological principles, travelling at will through the recent and dramatic past, including the Metaxas dictatorship, the Nazi occupation, the Greek resistance and its various tendencies, the victory of the monarchy, the civil war, the defeats of the communist in 1949, and the 1952 elections. The Hunters (1977) begins with the discovery of the body of a resistance soldier by six hunters, introducing the story of Greek political history from 19749 to 1977.
The focus on the initiation journey
Angelopoulos collaborated for the first time with the screenwriter and poet Tonino Guerra on Voyage to Cythera (1984), which won the Cannes Festival’s International Critics Award for Best Screenplay. Through this story of a society in which all spirituality appears to have been banished, the director expresses more generally his own disillusionment with democratic Greece.
The concept of journey becomes a constant theme of the filmmaker’s writing. The beekeeper (1986), the last trip of an old man who has left his family; Then Landscape in the Minst (1988), which won the Silver Lion at the Venice Mostra, describes the voyage of two children searching for an imaginary father pursues this examination of a world without spirit and direction.
In 1994, he began shooting Ulysses’ Gaze, a triple odyssey. On one level it’s a search for the roots of Balkan cinema and, really, of cinema itself. It’s also a voyage through the history of the Balkans, including the tragedy of Bosnia. Finally, it represents a man’s individual journey through his life, his love and his losses. The film, which starred Harvey Keitel, won the Jury Prize and International Critics’ Prize at Cannes and was named “European Film of the Year”, by the critics
With his next film Eternity and a day (1998), Angelopoulos finally won the coveted Palm D’ Or in Cannes and represented Greece at the American Film Academy Awards. Recently, at the 59th Berlin Film Festival, took place the premiere of his latest film The dust of time (2008), where an American film director of Greek ancestry is making a film that tells his story and the story of his parents.
Every year, the Huesca Film Festival bestows the “Luis Buñuel” Award to figures that made a significant contribution to the art of cinema as Aki Kaurismäki, Silvia Pinal, Michele Piccoli, André Téchiné, Vittorio y Paolo Taviani o Bertrand Tavernier, among others.


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