Keynote Speaker: Thomas Elsaesser
The Greek films of the period 1945-1967 have traditionally been classified as belonging to the Old Greek Cinema, a label that has harbored several
problematic assumptions regarding the artistic merit and the cultural significance of Greek filmmaking practices of the time. Most writings on Old Greek
Cinema seem to reproduce the standard tenets of an equally ‘old’ trend in film historiography, which is built on two key premises; firstly, the interest in
film as an art form and, secondly, the examination of film as a reflection or mirror of society. Adhering to the first principle, several scholars so far
have focused on a limited number of popular films of that period and criticized them for lacking artistic sophistication, imitating Hollywood formulas and,
above all, not being cinematic enough. Other academics have analyzed extensively the same small sample of films focusing on the ways they represented
various aspects of Greek society, and using the standard interpretative models of semiotics, psychoanalysis or feminism.
Celebrating its tenth anniversary, the film department at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki invites scholars to revise and reframe the research on Old Greek Cinema through the prism of the so-called New Film History. Since the mid-1980s a growing number of film academics have developed a new trend of film historiography, which emphasizes the need for greater methodological sophistication and consistency, for greater reliance not only on films but also on primary sources and archival material, and finally on a better understanding of the relation between film form and film practice.
These principles could help us identify previously unknown areas of Greek filmmaking of the period, while also probe us to reevaluate several well known figures and films. For instance, why is Maria Plyta the first Greek female director with an oeuvre of more than 20 films, unfamiliar to both the Greek audience and academia? What are the specific formal traits (theme, narrative structure, genre, mise-en-scène) of less known filmmakers, such as Apostolos Tegopoulos, Stelios Tatassopoulos, Kostas Manousakis, Christos Theodoropoulos, Gregg Tallas, and Andreas Labrinos? Are there unknown aspects in the work of established filmmakers, such as Dinos Dimopoulos, Giorgos Tzavellas, and Grigoris Grigoriou, among others? Was the passage from Old Greek Cinema and the later phase of New Greek Cinema as abrupt as it is often claimed to be? What are the connections between the lesser-known films of the period 1945-1967 and the mostly turbulent sociopolitical context? What was their production context and how did it influence their reception and ensuing historical marginalization? What can this Greek Cinema “in the margins” teach us about the subsequent course and/or evolution of the domestic cinematography?
By bringing forgotten films and/or artists out of the archive, and encouraging scholarly activity that can place them in appropriate production and reception contexts, the conference aspires to a complete re-appraisal of what was previously an almost unknown cinema. At the same time, by inviting the revision of our long-standing assumptions about the Old Greek cinema, we aspire to bring forth a new way of writing the Greek cinematic past and shed light to its connections to its present and future.
Possible topics include but are not limited to the following:
Concepts, Methods and Academic Research
Production and Industry Practices
Filmmakers and Film Industry Workers
Critical and reception practices
General Information & Important Dates
University of Glasgow
University of St. Andrews
University of Sydney
Liverpool John Moores University
Maria A. Stassinopoulou
University of Vienna
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
University of Technology Sydney