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Cinema and Media Studies Greek Cinema
by
Dan Georgakas

Introduction

Greek film studies have followed in the wake of the erratic history of Greek cinema. From 1900 through the end of World War II, Greek cinema was, at best, a cottage industry, and at times it all but ceased to exist. The first Greek-language sound films were made in the United States, and during the 1930s, most Greek films had to have final production done in other nations, often Egypt. Film commentary during this period was largely limited to tabloids. At the conclusion of World War II, Greece entered into the fertile studio period in which some two thousand films were made over two decades. Film criticism was again mainly limited to the popular press. Following the fall of the Greek junta in 1974, Greece entered a new period of filmmaking. State funding was established and scholarly works began to appear. Although the rising tide of Greek film studies has remained spotty in many ways, its discourse increasingly parallels that of other nations. Greek film studies are enhanced by the contributions of numerous scholars in the Greek diaspora, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. Although scholarly momentum has been building and is taken seriously by scholars in other disciplines, Greece still has only one university film program, and that program is mainly oriented to production. Among the issues surrounding Greek film scholarship is the question of what specifically constitutes Greek cinema. This concern arises because the boundaries of the Greek state have shifted dramatically over the past hundred years, and because numerous filmmakers of Greek origin work in various nations. Generally speaking, Greek-language films are considered Greek films, while films made by Greeks in the diaspora are not so considered unless there is some continuing connection with Greek-language cinema. Expatriates who make films in Greece, such as Jules Dassin, and individuals who make films in more than one language, such as Nikos Papatakis and Michael Cacoyannis, are seen as special cases and treated accordingly. More so than film scholarship in other nations, scholars of Greek film often seek to relate cinema to the dynamics of Greek culture. Nevertheless, they increasingly blend such considerations with the wider issues in film criticism and the relationship of Greek cinema to international and regional filmmaking.

Historical Background

Greek cinema may be divided into three major periods: 1900–1942, 1942–1974, and 1974–present. During the first period, Greek film production was anemic and almost came to a complete halt during the Metaxas dictatorship of 1936–1941. The period that followed was the most prolific and popular era of Greek cinema, with a studio system similar to that of Hollywood. That system, which produced some 200 films annually, waned in the late 1960s, and following the fall of the dictatorship of 1967–1974, a new auteurist cinema emerged. During the first period the most-important persons in filmmaking were directors and comedy stars. In the studio system, stars, especially musical stars, were as important as directors. There was also a strong musical component to many of the better films, as well as in musicals and romantic comedies. As the director became paramount following the fall of the junta, a period in which ten to twenty features appeared annually, the centrality of stars—which was a characteristic shared by both earlier periods—declined. Music created for film continued to have importance, but not on the scale seen in the studio period. Throughout all three periods, scriptwriters have gotten little attention, and the quality of Greek scripting is frequently cited as the Greek cinema’s weakest component. Film criticism in Greece is often marked by its focus on one of the major three periods and on keystone individual filmmakers or films of that particular period. The citations in General Histories take on the whole scope of the history of Greek cinema, while the citations in Period Studies focus on a specific period. Most scholarship deals with post-1974 cinema. A considerable body of work has emerged on early Greek cinema as well, but the prolific studio system has gotten only concentrated attention since the beginning of the 21st century.

General Histories

The most detailed guide to the history of Greek film is Soldatos 1991. The most comprehensive account in English is Greek Film Center 1993. Constantinidis 2000 offers a general guide to Greek cinema, and Georgakas and Horton 2002–2003 offers a thumbnail general history in which contemporary films are referenced. Mitropoulou 1980 presents a view of Greek cinema in the wake of the fall of the Greek military junta of 1967–1974. Ntellis 2011 discusses the impact of international film theory on Greek films made from the 1970s to the first decade of the 21st century. Demakopoulos 2000 offers a view of early Greek cinema drawn from Kousoumides 1981.

  • Constantinidis, Stratos E. “Greek Film and the National Interest: A Brief Preface.” In Special Issue: Greek Film. Journal of Modern Greek Studies 18.1 (May 2000): 1–12.

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    This is the preface to the only film issue (198 pages with good bibliographies) of the JMGS. Offers a brief overview of various periods of Greek film production in the context of wider Greek culture and 20th-century history.

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  • Demakopoulos, Steven. Do You Speak Greek? Long Island City, NY: Seaburn Books, 2000.

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    Offers extended excerpts in English of pioneering Greek cinema excerpts from the work of Kousoumides 1981, found in Marinos Kousoumides’s Istoria tou Ellenikou Kinotographou (Kastaniotis 1981).

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  • Georgakas, Dan, and Andrew Horton, eds. Special Issue: Greek Cinema. Film Criticism 27.2 (Winter 2002–2003).

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    Includes three brief essays on the history of Greek cinema, one essay on the screenplays of five contemporary films, and one essay on gender issues in recent films by female directors.

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  • Greek Film Center, ed. Cinemythology: A Retrospective of Greek Film. Athens, Greece: Greek Film Center, 1993.

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    This publication accompanied the presentation of Greek films in various nations. The lead essay by Yannis Bacoyannopoulos presents a history of Greek cinema, followed by a discussion of fifty-plus films the Greek Film Center considers of historical note. Bilingual: English and Greek texts.

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  • Kousoumides, Marinos. Istoria tou Ellinikou Kinimatographou. Athens, Greece: Kastaniotis, 1981.

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    See excerpts in English from this early history in Demakopoulos 2000. These excerpts deal with the earliest period of Greek cinema.

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  • Mitropoulou, Anglae. Ellinkos Kinimatographos. Athens, Greece: Kedros, 1980.

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    A look at Greek cinema from the post-junta perspective.

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  • Ntellis, Achilleas. “Greek Film Criticism: The Double Mission of Marxism in 1971.” Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora 37.1–2 (2011): 123–140.

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    Focuses on the dramatic shift in Greek filmmaking that began in the 1970s, with emphasis on the impact of auteurist and Marxist theory. Gives special attention to the influence of critic/editor Vasilis Rafailidis and the journal Sinhonos Kinimatografos (Contemporary Cinema).

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  • Soldatos, Yannis. Istoria Tou Ellinikou Kinimatographou. Athens, Greece: Aigokeros, 1991.

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    Six-volume work that is an ideal starting point for research on the history of Greek cinema. Particularly useful in that the author draws on or reproduces contemporary responses to the films.

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Period Studies

Karalis 2010 offers a detailed view of Greek silent films and pre–World War II talking pictures. Hess 2000 focuses on the transition of silent to talking pictures. Mini 2006 considers the popular reaction in Greece to the first talking pictures, and Mini 2010 examines the relationship of early talking pictures and Greek theater. Georgakas and Lambropoulos 2011 working under the auspices of the Center for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies of Queens College and the Modern Greek Program of the University of Michigan, offers a filmography that contains exclusive data and analysis of the first two films ever made in the Greek language. Stassinopoulou 2002 traces Greek film production during the German occupation. Sotiropoulou 1995 explores diaspora themes in Greek films made during a time of major emigration. Schuster 1979 offers a rather enthusiastic appraisal of Greek filmmakers immediately following the fall of the Greek junta of 1967–1974.

  • Center for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies.

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    The center is located at Queens College, City University of New York. Under the project heading Greek American Image in American Cinema, one can find rare data on I Grothia tou Sakati (The Fist of the Invalid) from 1930 and Afti Einai I Zoi (That’s Life), made in 1931, two films made in America that are the first in the Greek language and precede sound films made in Greece.

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  • Georgakas, Dan, and Vassili Lambropoulos. The Greek American Image in American Cinema: An Annotated Filmography. 2011.

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    Contains rare data on I Grothia tou Sakati (The Fist of the Invalid) from 1930 and Afti Enai I Zoe (That’s Life) from 1931, two films made in America that are the first in the Greek language and precede sound films made in Greece. Greek filmmakers working in Hollywood are also covered.

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  • Hess, Franklin I. “Sound and the Nation: Rethinking the History of Early Greek Film Production.” In Special Issue: Greek Film. Journal of Modern Greek Studies 18.1 (May 2000): 13–36.

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    Detailed analysis of the transition from silent to sound films in Greek cinema.

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  • Karalis, Vrasidas. “The Cinematic Gaze in Early Greek Cinema: 1905–1945.” Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora 36.1–2 (2010): 7–44.

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    Offers a close look at this period and corrects errors found in Ephraim Katz’s Film Encyclopedia (New York: HarperCollins, 2001 and subsequent editions) regarding Greek cinema in the 1900–1930 period.

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  • Mini, Panayiota. “Syndiazontas to Elliniko me to Evropaiko stichio kai stochevontas se ena evri kino: O Agapitikos tis Voskopoula (1932) tis ‘Olympia Film.’” Ta Istorika 23.44 (June 2006): 161–180.

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    By considering a great number of press accounts of the early 1930s, this article presents the strategies of Olympia Film in producing and promoting the first Greek talkie, The Shepherd’s Lover (1932).

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  • Mini, Panayiota. “I emfanisi tou omilountos kinimatographou kai to Elliniko Theatro.” In Paradosi kai eksychronimismos sto Neoellinkio Theatre—Apo tis aparches os ti metapolemiki epochi, Praktika tou Triton Panelliniou Theatrologikou Synedriou, Rethimno, 23–36 October 2008. Paper delivered at the Third Panhellenic Conference, Rethimnon, 23–26 October 2008. Edited by K. Georgiadi and A. Glytzouris, 521–530. Heraklion, Greece: Panepistimiakes Ekdoseis Kritis, 2010.

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    Based on extensive documentation from the literary, theater, and film press of 1929–1931 of the interaction with and reception of the talkies by the theater public in Greece.

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  • Schuster, Mel. The Contemporary Greek Cinema. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1979.

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    A modest, critical effort that manages to catch the élan of immediate post-junta filmmaking.

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  • Sotiropoulou, Chrysanthe. E Diaspora ston Elliniko Kinimatographou: Epitraseis kai Epirres stin Thematoliki Exelixi ton Tainion tis Periodou 1945–1986. Athens, Greece: Themelio, 1995.

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    For the greater part of the 20th century, significant numbers of Greeks lived in diaspora communities or left Greece to form new diaspora communities. This essay examines how that reality is projected in Greek cinema in the period indicated, which includes the most prolific in Greek film history.

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  • Stassinopoulou, Maria A. “It Happened in Athens: The Relaunch of Greek Film Production during World War II.” Cambridge Papers in Modern Greek 10 (2002): 4–14.

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    An account of Greek filmmaking during the German occupation of Athens and its impact on the general population.

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Reference Works

These works provide documentary data on the whole or some aspect of Greek cinema. General references in various histories of world cinema are not included, because the material cited in General Histories is far more accurate and complete. Entries in other sections of this bibliography also were partly chosen for the richness of the citations provided by their respective authors. See Governmental Resources for government entities related to Greek cinema. Koliodimos 1999 presents the most-complete data on all Greek films through 1996. Constantinidis 2000 provides the best scholarly bibliography for English-language sources, while Smith 2009 reports on the latest film scholarship. Soldatos 1994 reproduces Greek commentary on Greek cinema made at the time a film was originally released. A concise overview of Greek film admissions is found in Grivas 2002, and an account of the impact of television on the Greek public and critics is found in Skopeteas 2011. The only major English-language journal with consistent coverage of Greek cinema is Cineaste, which has an extensive archive.

  • Cineaste.

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    This quarterly journal offers extensive coverage of the annual Thessaloniki Film Festival and is the English-language cinema journal that most consistently addresses topics related to Greek cinema. See the Online Cumulative Index on the website for Greek-related articles, interviews, and book reviews.

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  • Constantinidis, Stratos E., ed. Greece in Modern Times: An Annotated Bibliography of Works Published in English in Twenty-two Academic Disciplines during the Twentieth Century. Latham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2000.

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    Annotated account of works in English in twenty-two academic disciplines. Comprehensive section on film.

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  • Grivas, Alexis. “A Greek Chores.” Screen International, 3 November 2002, 10–12.

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    Offers a rare, concise, and candid report on paid admission figures in the post-junta film era. Notes that some Film Center–financed films had less than one thousand viewers. Grivas is the long-time Foreign Press contact for the Thessaloniki Film Festival, but this is not an official Festival report.

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  • Koliodimos, Dimitris. The Greek Filmography, 1914 through 1996. Introduction by Max T. Roman. Jefferson, NC: MacFarland, 1999.

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    Exhaustive work, with 2,302 entries on Greek film output through 1996. A “must have” for all scholars of Greek films. Titles of all films are in both Roman and Greek alphabets, with complete production credits and an excellent synopsis of each film. Appendices include all the Thessaloniki Film Festival awards and all the Greek National Film Awards.

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  • Skopeteas, Giannas. “Greek Cinema in the 1990s: Modes of Practice and Modes of Production.” Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora 37.1–2 (2011): 179–194.

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    Questions the rewriting of Greek film history from a strictly auteurist perspective. Discusses three modes of production and the accompanying theoretical assumptions prevalent in the 1990s, with reference to eighty-six specific films. Emphasis given to the impact of television. The organization called Filmmakers of Greece (FOG) grew out of the dissatisfaction of Greek filmmakers (directors for the most part) with the funding practices of the Greek Film Center and the voting constituency for the annual National Film Awards. This essay examines the emergence of this organization and its goals.

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  • Smith, Joseph. “Conference Review: Greek Cinema: Texts, Histories, Identification, Liverpool, May 23–34, 2008.” Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora 35.1 (2009): 113–117.

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    Reports on first UK conference on Greek film in ten years. Excellent guide to current trends in Greek film studies. Underscores the contribution of diaspora scholars and laments a certain exceptionalist thinking that marks modern Greek studies in general and affects film scholarship in particular.

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  • Soldatos, Yannis. E Ellinikos Kinimatographos: Dohoumenta 1. Athens, Greece: Aigokeros, 1994.

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    Contemporary selections, largely from the popular press, regarding cinema.

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Governmental Resources

All of these government resources have an archival dimension in their mandate, and they issue numerous publications. They can provide production data and related information on virtually all Greek films. See Reference Works for related nongovernmental resources. The Greek Film Center has been the major funder and distributor of Greek films for more than a quarter century. The Thessaloniki International Film Festival has been the national showcase of annual film production since 1960. The Greek National Television Film Network holds many studio films and historical newsreels. The more recently established Greek Film Archive seeks, among other concerns, to recover and restore pre-1940 films. The Film Department of the Ministry of Culture offers broad cultural perspective on Greek cinema in its Twenty-five Years of Greek Movies (Greek Ministry of Culture 1985).

Genre Studies

Genre studies in Greek film scholarship fall into two broad categories. The most obvious consists of the various genres developed during the studio system, many of which mimicked Hollywood genres. More complex are themes and structures that are found in one or more of the various periods and subperiods of Greek cinema. Although scholars have begun to look at the studio system with greater appreciation, most post-junta Greek filmmakers and their supporters have distanced themselves from the studio culture and its films. Nevertheless, a number of post-junta films were specifically made to evoke, contemporize, or mock the genres of the studio era. Another critical dimension of the Greek film system has always dealt with the evolving image of Greek women. Rather than applying abstract theory, most studies proceed from specific films, individuals, and periods to establish changing definitions of women’s roles in Greek society. Dermentzoglou 2007 offers a rare English-language account of Greek film noir. Eleftheriotis 1995 considers the depiction of masculinity in Greek film, while Papadimitriou 2006 explores female sexuality in Greek film. Exarchos 1991 considers the first images of Greek women in Greek film. Kartalou, et al. 2006 presents multicultural views of themes of immigration, emigration, and repatriation in Greek films. Kyminionis 2000 outlines the unique aspects of the Greek mountain film, and Verinis 2005 considers the significance of the foustanella in a variety of films, including the mountain genre. Stassinopoulou 2000 analyzes the nature of military representation in a nation plagued by civil wars and dictatorships.

  • Dermentzoglou, Alexis, ed. In A Dark Passage: Film Noir in Greek Cinema. Film Pads 8. Thessaloniki, Greece: Erodios Publications, 2007.

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    Concentrates on the film noirs made between 1958 and 1969 but also discusses a number of film noirs from later periods. Produced by the Thessaloniki International Film Festival. Bilingual: English and Greek.

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  • Eleftheriotis, Dimitris. “Questioning Totalities: Constructions of Masculinity in the Popular Greek Cinema of the 1960s.” Screen 36.3 (Summer 1995): 233–242.

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    Does not deal with the entire studio era, but with the volatile era that led to the coup d’état by Greek colonels in 1967 and the demise of the studio system by the end of that decade.

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  • Exarchos, Georgis. Adelphi Manakia-Protopore tou Kinimatographou sta Valkania kai to “vlahikon zitima.” Athens, Greece: Gavrillides, 1991.

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    Study of the films of the Manakia brothers, asserting that their first film was Gynaikes pou Klotun (Women weaving, 1905), starring their grandmother Despona and other family members, probably living in Avdella.

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  • Kartalou, Athena, Afroditi Nikolaïdou, and Thanos Anastopoulos, eds. Immigration in Greek Cinema: 1956–2006. Film Pads 6. Thessaloniki, Greece: Egokeros, 2006.

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    Eighteen essays consider how immigration to and emigration from Greece have been treated in various films. Most essays have good bibliographies. This is a publication of the Thessaloniki Film Festival, issued in conjunction with its retrospective on immigration films. It is bilingual: English and Greek.

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  • Kyminionis, Stelios. “The Genre of the Mountain Film: The Ideological Parameters of Its Subgenres.” In Special Issue: Greek Film. Journal of Modern Greek Studies 18.1 (May 2000): 53–66.

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    Looks in detail at the approximately seventy films in the general mountain genre made between 1955 and 1974, with reference to the genre traditions established by their pre–World War II predecessors.

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  • Papadimitriou, Lydia. The Greek Film Musical: A Critical and Cultural History. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006.

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    First full study of the genre that topped the Greek box office charts seven times in the 1960s. Demonstrates that despite their escapist nature, musicals provide compelling accounts of key cultural and social tensions in postwar Greece. Translated into Greek as To Musikal ston Elliniko Kinimagraphou (Athens, Greece: Papazisis, 2009).

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  • Stassinopoulou, Maria A. “Creating Distraction after Destruction: Representations of the Military in Greek Film.” In Special Issue: Greek Film. Journal of Modern Greek Studies 18.1 (May 2000): 37–52.

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    Challenges the accepted view that Greek genre films of the post–Civil War years did not deal with any of the political issues associated with the military values imposed on that time or with the German occupation.

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  • Verinis, James P. “Spiridon Loues, the Modern Foustanéla and the Symbolic Power of Pallikaridá at the 1896 Olympic Games.” Journal of Modern Greek Studies 23.1 (May 2005): 139–175.

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    Although not directly concerned with film, this essay offers thoughtful commentary on the foustanella as a marker of Greek identity that is useful when considering the foustanella genre in Greek film.

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Feminist Studies

Feminist studies did not have a prominent place in Greek film studies before the 21st century. Contemporary scholars, however, have been working energetically to close this gap. Even more severely than in other national cinemas, cinema in Greece has mainly been a male province. Female directors and scriptwriters began to emerge in significant numbers only in the late 1980s, and they still are greatly outnumbered by males. Females stars, usually vocalists, were a major force in the studio era, but the dramatic roles championed by Melina Mercouri, Irene Papas, and Eli Lambetti in the studio era have not produced a successor generation. The image of women is of particular importance, because in the latter half of the 20th century Greece moved from a provincial, rural society dominated by patriarchic values to an urban nation trying to find its place in the European Union. The depiction of women in two box office hits is examined in Kartalou 2000. Female musical stars are considered in Papadimitriou 2009, while Papadimitriou 2004 takes on the role assigned to female stars in Greek war films. The depiction of women in a number of films by Michael Cacoyannis is discussed in Georgakas 2005, while McDonald 1991 focuses on the same director’s rendering of Iphigenia (1977), and Mini 2006 analyzes the 1955 film Stella, with a comparison to the original play by Iakovos Kambanellis, who cowrote the screenplay with Cacoyannis. Gounaridou 2000 looks at female representation in the work of one of the most celebrated post-junta directors. Mercouri 1971, written during the period of the Greek junta, discusses what the author considers her cultural mandate as Greece’s best-known international film star.

  • Georgakas, Dan. “From Stella to Iphigenia: The Woman-Centered Films of Michael Cacoyannis.” Cineaste 30.2 (2005): 24–30.

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    Looks at how women of different epochs and social classes have often been the focus of the work of Michael Cacoyannis.

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  • Gounaridou, Kiki. “Representations of Women in the Films of Pantelis Voulgaris: Akropole, The Stone Years, and The Engagement of Anna.” In Special Issue: Greek Film. Journal of Modern Greek Studies 18.1 (May 2000): 151–160.

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    An examination of how Voulgaris has explored female subjectivity within the social, historical, and cultural framework of 1972–1995.

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  • Kartalou, Athena. “Gender, Professional, and Class Identities in Miss Director and Modern Cinderella.” In Special Issue: Greek Film. Journal of Modern Greek Studies 18.1 (May 2000): 105–118.

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    Looks at various identity issues in two popular films of the later studio era: Miss Director (1964), starring Jenny Karezi, and Modern Cinderella (1965), starring Aliki Vougiouklaki, the most popular female star of the studio system.

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  • McDonald, Marianne. “Cacoyannis’s and Euripides’ Iphigenia: The Dialectic of Power.” In Classics and Cinema. Edited by Martin M. Winkler, 127–141. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 1991.

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    Essays probe the nature of Greek tragedy and Cacoyannis’s interpretation of Euripides. Also published in Bucknell Review 35.1 (1991): 127–158.

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  • Mercouri, Melina. I Was Born Greek. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971.

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    Greece’s future minister of culture and most well-known international star offers her views on Greek identity, politics, culture, and history.

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  • Μini, Panayiota. “E Stella meh ta kokkina ghantia tou Iakovos Kambanellis kai e Stella tou Michael Cacoyannis.” In Proceedings of the Panhellenic Conference in Honour of Iakovos Kambanellis, Patras, 22–24 October 2004, Supplement, 26–37. Patras, Greece: Peri Texnon, 2006.

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    This essay constitutes a detailed, historically informed comparison between Kambanellis’s play Stella in Red Gloves (1954) and Cacoyannis’s adaptation Stella (1955). It shows the ways in which Cacoyannis transforms a naturalistic play with lyrical overtones into a folk-like film drama.

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  • Papadimitriou, Lydia. “Greek War Film as Melodrama: Women, Female Stars and the Nation as Victim.” In Action and Adventure Cinema. Edited by Yvonne Tasker, 297–308. London and New York: Routledge, 2004.

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    Focuses on a genre that flourished under the “dictatorship of the Colonels” (1967–1974) and the relationship of films with the political and social context in which they were produced.

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  • Papadimitriou, Lydia. “Stars of the 1960s Greek Musical: Rena Vlahopoulou and Aliki Vougiouklaki.” In Stellar Encounters: Stardom in Popular European Cinema. Edited by Tytti Soila, 205–214. London: John Libbey, 2009.

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    Contrasts Rena Vlahopoulou and Aliki Vougiouklaki, the two major stars of 1960s Greek musicals, to demonstrate the relationship between genre and stardom in popular Greek cinema. Greek publication: “To Elliniko musikal tis dekatias tou 1960 kai e star Rena Vlachopoulou kai Aliki Vouyiouklaki.” In O ethopois anemesa sti Skini kai ston Odeon, edited by Christina Adamou, pp. 191–203 (Athens, Greece: Kastaniotis).

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Individual Films and Filmmakers

Given that the history of Greek cinema is primarily centered on directors and stars, criticism often focuses on individual films or filmmakers. All of these citations go beyond simple plot analysis to offer a critical assessment of the themes and methods in major films. The interviews cited here are limited to occasions in which filmmakers spoke at length about specific films rather than just generating publicity for a given film.

Films

Only a handful of Greek films have attracted significant international attention. In the latter half of the 20th century, the films of Theodoros Angelopoulos were among those exceptions. Myrsiades 2000 explores the most famous of the Angelopoulos films to analyze the “authorial gaze,” and Karalis 2006 discusses that gaze and the mythological subtext in Ulysses’ Gaze (To vlemma tou Odyssea, 1995). Georgakas 2000 offers a new perspective on one of Angelopoulos’s most problematic films, Alexander the Great (O Megalexandros, 1980). In McDonald and Winkler 1991, Michael Cacoyannis and Irene Papas are interviewed about their work together in a number of Greek tragedies. McDonald 1983, meanwhile, focuses on Iphigenia (1977). Georgakas 2005 is an interview with the creators of the film Brides (Nyfes, or Nufes, 2004), which drew more than a million admissions in Greece. Horton 2000 considers the carnivalesque nature of No Budget Story (1997), one of the innovative, independently made films of the 1990s. Mini 2006 analyzes the repatriation theme in From the Edge of the City (Apo Tin Akri Tis Polis, 1998), a forerunner of various films dealing with immigrants returning from various communities of the diaspora.

  • Georgakas, Dan. “A Reconsideration of Theodoros Angelopoulos’s O Megalexandros.” In Special Issue: Greek Film. Journal of Modern Greek Studies 18.1 (May 2000): 171–182.

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    Argues that Alexander the Greek (1980) must be seen as the anticlimax to the political trilogy Days of ’36 (1972), The Traveling Players (1975), and The Hunters (1977). Its fierce antiauthoritarian themes are related to the handful of anarchist films featuring mass movements and to political conditions in Greece at the time of the film’s making.

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  • Georgakas, Dan. “On the Making of Nufes: An Interview with Pantelis Voulgaris and Ioanna Karystiani.” Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora 31.1 (2005): 79–92.

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    Commentary and in-depth interview with the writer (Karystiani) and director (Voulgaris) of the film Brides. Deals with the genesis of the film, the authenticity of some of its historical details, and the role of Martin Scorsese as executive producer in critical casting and plot decisions.

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  • Horton, Andrew. “Renos Harlambidis’ No Budget Story: Cinema and Manhood as Radical Carnival.” In Special Issue: Greek Film. Journal of Modern Greek Studies 18.1 (May 2000): 183–198.

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    Celebrates one of the first of the new “independent” films (independent of Greek Film Center financing) that focuses resolutely on the alternative culture of Greece of the late 1990s.

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  • Karalis, Vrasidas. “The Disjunctive Aesthetics of Myth and Empathy in Angelopoulos’ Ulysses’ Gaze.” Literature and Aesthetics: The Journal of the Sydney Society of Literature and Aesthetics 16.2 (December 2006): 201–214.

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    A perceptive analysis of the combination of myth and actuality in Ulysses’ Gaze.

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  • McDonald, Marianne. “Cacoyannnis and Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis: A New Horizon.” In Euripides in Cinema: The Heart Made Visible. By Marianne McDonald, 129–191. Philadelphia: Centrum, 1983.

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    A close reading of Cacoyannis’s treatment of the Iphigenia theme.

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  • McDonald, Marianne, and Martin M. Winkler. “Interviews with Michael Cacoyannis and Irene Papas.” In Classics and Cinema. Edited by Martin M. Winkler, 159–184. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 1991.

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    Cacoyannis and Papas discuss a wide range of Cacoyannis films, with emphasis on how they worked together. Striking photographs accompany the interview.

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  • Mini, Panayiota. “A Life and Identity in Flux: Young Pontian Greeks in Konstantinos Giannaris’s From the Edge of the City.” Ariadne 12 (2006): 215–228.

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    Examines Giannaris’s narrative methods in From the Edge of the City in conjunction with the film’s allusions to the Pontian Greeks’ difficulties and status in Greek society.

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  • Myrsiades, Linda. “Theatrical Metaphors in Theodore Angelopoulos’s The Traveling Players.” In Special Issue: Greek Film. Journal of Modern Greek Studies 18.1 (May 2000): 135–149.

    DOI: 10.1353/mgs.2000.0014Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores aspects of this most famous of contemporary Greek films as a way of seeing or living, a “gaze” as it were.

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Filmmakers

Only a handful of Greek filmmakers have found an international public or received international critical attention. By far the most celebrated post-junta director is Theo Angelopoulos. Horton 1997a offers a personal and aesthetic biography of the major period of the director’s work, and Horton 1997b presents a collection of notable essays dealing with specific films. Fainaru 2001 offers Angelopoulos’s own comments on his work in interviews given in a variety of countries on differing occasions. Pantelis Voulgaris has also won some international attention in the post-junta period. Kolonias 2003 offers an account of Voulgaris’s life and work, and Voulgaris himself speaks of his aesthetics in Cacoulidis 1996. Nikos Panayotopoulos first achieved fame in 1978 with his Idlers of the Fertile Valley, and in Georgakas and Pappas 1979 he discusses post-junta challenges facing Greek filmmakers. Soldatos and Damianos 1993 discusses the work of Alexēs Damianos, cited by many Greek filmmakers as having strongly influenced their work. Bramos 2008 looks at the films and the extraordinary career of Manos Zakharias.

Transnational Studies

Greek films constitute a national cinema to be sure, and proudly so. Nevertheless, Greek cinema is inextricably linked to Balkan culture. In addition, filmmaking in Cyprus is usually in the Greek language. The scholarly works cited here fully recognize the independence of Greek cinema, but they look to see how it may share themes, formats, and other characteristics with neighboring countries. In these works, Turkey is usually included as a Balkan nation in terms of filmmaking. Iordanova 2001 examines common traits in Balkan cinema, Iordanova 2007 edits a wide spectrum of views on that topic, and Iordanova 2006 offers critical readings of individual films from various Balkan nations that exhibit similar concerns. Konstantinides 2010 examines new trends in Cypriot film, and Kolonias 1995 examines the career of Michael Cacoyannis, the most celebrated Cypriot filmmaker. Horton 2005 probes the Balkan carnivalesque dimension in the work of Theo Angelopoulos. Rohringer 2009 analyzes documentaries made in the Balkans. Tutui 2004 looks at the work of the pioneering Manakia brothers.

  • Horton, Andrew. “The Greek and Balkan Spirit of Comedy in the Films of Theo Angelopoulos.” Greece in Print 196–197 (September 2005): 14–18.

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    Builds on author’s work on both Balkan cinema and Angelopoulos to explore fertile crossings of Greek Orthodox cultures with Muslims influences over 400 years of Turkish domination.

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  • Iordanova, Dina. Cinema of Flames: Balkan Film, Culture and the Media. London: British Film Institute, 2001.

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    Broad exploration of what may constitute common elements in films from Balkan countries.

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  • Iordanova, Dina, ed. The Cinema of the Balkans. 24 Frames Series. London: Wallflower Press, 2006.

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    Twenty-four takes on various Balkan films. Included are Stella, Ti Ekanes Ston polemo Thannassi? (What did you do in the war, Thanassis?), Petrina Chronia (Stone years), and I Earini Synaxis ton Agroflyakon (The four seasons of the law).

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  • Iordanova, Dina, ed. “Contemporary Balkan Cinema: A Special Supplement.” Cineaste 32.3 (Summer 2007): 20–65.

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    Contains eight general essays and sixteen reviews of specific films by twenty-four scholars. Does not duplicate earlier anthologies edited by Iordanova. Includes bibliographies, websites, and other reference sources. The Cineaste website contains an additional essay by Gareth Jones and a Filmmakers/Critics Symposium with fifteen contributors, including film programmer Dimitris Kerkinos and directors Constantine Giannaris and Pantelis Voulgaris.

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  • Kolonias, Babis, ed. Michalis Cacoyannis. Athens, Greece: Kastaniotis, 1995.

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    Scholars of Greek cinema focus mainly on Cacoyannis’s Greek-language films such as Stella and The Girl in Black, which he made in the studio system, or on his Greek-themed English-language films such as Zorba the Greek and The Trojan Women. Another set of scholars focus on his work with Greek tragedies in Greek and English, on stage and on screen.

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  • Konstantinides, Kostas. “Sychronos Kypriakos Kinimatographos: Tasis kai Provlimata Thematologias sto Politismos, Texes kai MME.” In Epimelitis Syllogikou Tomou Andreas Kl. Sofokleous, 152–158. Lefkos, Cyprus: Institouto Meson Mazikis Epikinonias, 2010.

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    This entry is one of the few academic papers on Greek-Cypriot cinema. Discusses the narrative trends of contemporary Cypriot films, with an extended treatment of a dominant theme in Cypriot cinema, the occupation of half of Cyprus by Turkey and the complex relationship of Hellenes and Turks.

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  • Rohringer, Margit. Documents on the Balkans: History, Memory, Identity. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009.

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    A rare look at representation of the historical discourses contested in documentary films produced in the Balkans.

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  • Tutui, M. Manakia Bros. or the Moving Balkans. Bucharest, Romania: Romanian Film Archive, 2004.

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    Published in Romanian and English. Explores the lives of the brothers considered the fathers of Balkan cinema.

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Theoretical Studies

Greek film studies have been affected by a particularist mode of thought, or a general attitude of exceptionalism, that is a hallmark of modern Greek studies, and of modern Greek culture in general. The entries listed here, however, primarily place specific films, genres, or themes into broader theoretical contexts of the kind that characterize advanced film studies elsewhere. In short, they provide insight into a topic in its specific cultural context while relating those insights to general themes in Greek cinema and general film theory. Athanasatou 2001 deals with the impact of Greece’s massive populist political movements on Greek cinema, while Georgakopoulou 2000 deals with the effect of the language of such movements on Greek film. Eleftheriotis 2001 abandons notions of cultural exceptionalism and places Greek cinema into the broad context of European filmmaking. Ntellis 2009 discusses the formation of Greek film theory, and Papadimitriou 2009 explores identity issues in Greek film theory. Mini 2009, in turn, applies Greek film theory to a work by Kazantzakis. Papadimitriou 2000 investigates how Greek cinema dealt with the postwar tourist boom in its musicals, and Zacharia 2008 probes how the very definition of Greekness or Hellenism is addressed in Greek film.

  • Athanasatou, Yianna. Ellinikos Kinimatographos, 1950–1967: Laiki Minmi kai Ideologia. Athens, Greece: Finatec-Multimedia, 2001.

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    Looks at the impact of Greece’s powerful populist movements on filmmaking.

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  • Eleftheriotis, Dimitris. Popular Cinemas of Europe: Studies of Texts, Contexts and Frameworks. 2d ed. New York and London: Continuum, 2001.

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    Places Greek cinema in a European framework.

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  • Georgakopoulou, Alexandra. “On the Sociolinguistics of Popular Films: Funny Characters, Funny Voices.” In Special Issue: Greek Film. Journal of Modern Greek Studies 18.1 (May 2000): 119–153.

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    Explores the benefits of language-oriented approaches to Greek film studies, using the framework of Bakhtinian analysis.

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  • Mini, Panayiota. “Ikones kai ypokimeniki pragmatikotita sto senario tou Kazantzaki Don Quixote (1932).” In Polyfonia: Philologika meletimata afieromena ston S. N. Philippidi. Edited by A. Kastrinaki, A. Politis, and D. Polychronakis, 213–229. Heraklion, Greece: Panepistimiakes Ekdoseis Kritis, 2009.

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    The first in-depth analysis of this particular Kazantzakis scenario. Discusses the ways in which Kazantzakis uses imagery and subjective scenes to construct a Christlike Don Quixote, and various ways different levels of subjectivity are represented. Very useful in considering various films based on Kazantzakis’s work.

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  • Ntellis, Achilleas. “E diamorfosi kai e exelixi tis kinimatographikis kritikis kai theorias stin Ellada: 1950–1981.” PhD diss., University of the Aegean, 2009.

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    A systematic examination of the issues and trajectory of this period of film scholarship in Greece.

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  • Papadimitriou, Lydia. “Travelling on Screen: Tourism and the Greek Film Musical.” In Special Issue: Greek Film. Journal of Modern Greek Studies 18.1 (May 2000): 95–104.

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    Explores the links between the narrative and aesthetic role of tourism in 1960s Greek musicals, and the actual growth of the tourist industry in this period.

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  • Papadimitriou, Lydia. “Greek Film Studies Today: In Search of Identity.” Kambos: Cambridge Papers in Modern Greek 17 (2009): 49–78.

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    Provides a critical overview of Greek film studies, a field in search of institutional, theoretical, and methodological identity.

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  • Zacharia, Katerina. “‘Reel’ Hellenisms: Perceptions of Greece in Greek Cinema.” In Hellenisms: Culture, Identity, and Ethnicity from Antiquity to Modernity. Edited by Katerina Zacharia, 321–353. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2008.

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    Examines the works of Theo Angelopoulos and Michael Cacoyannis as representative of the modernist aesthetics of “Hellenic Hellenism.” Also deals with how contemporary filmmakers represent Greece as the recipient of Balkan refugees and immigrants in what is a postcolonial discourse of multilayered identities and “deterritorializations” that deconstruct dominant national discourses.

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LAST MODIFIED: 10/28/2011

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199791286-0035

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