The Greek Film Archive and the Greek National Opera present the first, worldwide screening of the of Dimitris Gaziades’ restored film “The Apaches of Athens” (“I Apachides ton Athinon”, 1930), on February 15, 2020 (20:00), Saturday, February 15th, 2020 (20:00) at Stavros Niarchos Hall of the Greek National Opera at Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center with free entrance for the public, with the participation of ERT’s National Symphony Orchestra and the singers of the National Greek Opera under the musical direction of Anastasios Symeonidis.
“The Apaches of Athens” by Dimitris Gaziadis, is a silent Greek film of 1930, the first Greek film with music and songs. The film was considered lost for decades. A nitrate copy was found four years ago in the French Film Archive and it was digitally restored with an exclusive donation from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (ISN). The image was restored on behalf of the Greek Film Archive and was given a new life, under the auspices of Costas Gavras, in collaboration with Céline Ruivo of the Cinémathèque Française, at the L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in Bologna and Paris from the only existing copy, in cellulose nitrate with French intertitles, whilst the recomposition of the accompanying music was realized in Athens by the Hellenic Music Centre and the musicologists Giannis Tselikas and Giannis Sabrovalakis.
The film “The Apaches of Athens” (1930) by Dimitris Gaziadis is a free adaptation with considerable alterations of the legendary operetta of the same name by Nikos Hadjiapostolou and Yannis Prineas (1921) and was an attempt to create the first Greek film with music and songs which was played at 78 RPM discs and synchronized with the projection of the film. This was an attempt to bridge the lack of a proper sound system which was too expensive and the DAG company that produced the film could not afford to buy; starring legendary figures from the then Greek scene, such as Petros Kyriakos, Maria Sagianou, Petros Epitropakis, Yannis Prineas, et al., is an important link in the history of early Greek cinema, lost until today. The restored 4K copy will be presented with live music, in an effort to reconstruct the original -definitively lost- soundtrack, of the original film.
What is striking with this cinematic operetta lies in the high aesthetics of its cinematography; which exquisitely captures some of the most important landmarks of Athens and its outskirts, as well as the daily life of 1930, in Plaka, Psyrri, the Ancient Agora, Thission, Gazi, Syntagma Square, Omonia Square, Stadiou Street, Panepistimiou, but also Tatoi Palace and its surroundings. After its first presentation at the National Opera of Greece, the restored copy will travel to major film festivals around the world that screen classic films of the early 20th century.
At the first screening in Bologna last June, the experts engaged with restoration (representatives of the Cinémathèque Française, the Greek Film Archive and the L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory) were left highly impressed. The artistic quality of the film went beyond all expectations. It was agreed by all that the fact such a small country could produce, in 1930, a film of such aesthetic and technical excellence, was truly exceptional.
Dimitrios Gaziadis (1897-1961), director of the film, was born in Athens and was one of the first directors of Greek cinema. He studied photography in Germany and worked with great directors at the time such as Ernst Lubitch and Fritz Lang. Together with his two brothers Costas and Mihalis, Dimitris Gaziadis founded DAG Films Production Company in 1927. DAG Films was a dominant film production company that produced nine films until its dissolution in 1932. Critics describe the Gaziadis Brothers as the first experimenters with film language in Greece.
Tribute to “The discreet charm of restoration”
Following the restoration of “The Apaches of Athens”, the Greek Film Archive is organizing a tribute titled “The discreet charm of restoration”. This tribute moves along the triptych Restoration, Digitisation and Screening. With guests representing the major film archives and laboratories, exemplary restorations will be screened on Thursday, February 13, followed by a Symposium titled “The international Film Archives Symposium: Restorations, rediscoveries, Perspectives” on February 14.
The Symposium is structured in two parts, “The rediscoveries of the early sounds and colors in film”, “The film archives world perspectives: preserving, sharing and showing FIAF, the sharing network”, and a Panel discussion on “Restoration policies: ethics and documentation of the restorations – Preservation in the digital era: why still using – analog film? – Showing the film heritage, how to make an event in the age of streaming”.
It features heads of film archives, such as Maria Komninos, President of the board of directors, Tainiothiki tis Ellados / Greek Film Archive, Céline Ruivo, director of the film collection, La Cinémathèque française, Paris Elena Tammaccaro, Adjunct director of L’immagine Ritrovata laboratory, Frank Roumen, Head of the collections, Eye Film Museum, Frédéric Maire, President of FIAF (International Federation of the Film Archives), and director of Cinémathèque Suisse, Rui Machado, Deputy Director of Cinemateca Portuguesa, Lisbon Eye Film Museum, Frank Roumen, Director of Collections Live Cinema! and Robert Byrne, President of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.