By: Maydaa Abo El-Nadar
CAIRO, Jan. 3 (SEE) – Since ancient history, Greece and Egypt bilateral relations have been always strong. In order to strengthen friendship and cooperation between Cairo and Athens, the Alexandria’s branch of the Greek Cultural Association is always celebrating events in Cairo and Alexandria. At the end of 2018, several events took place in this regard.
In cooperation with Bibliotheca Alexandria and the Department of Foreign Cultural Relations at the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, the Alexandria’s branch of the Greek Cultural Association organized an event under the title “Poetry and Singing”. On the 21st of November, the event took place at the Bibliotheca Alexandria’s small theater. It was also staged in Cairo, on the 24th of November, at Bayt Al-Suhaymi.
Bayt Al-Suhaymi is an old Ottoman house built in 1648 by Abdel Wahab El Tablawy and purchased by Sheikh Ahmed As-Suhaymi in 1796. The monumental site’s nature matched the ambience of the event where verses were sung for remarkable Greek and Egyptian poets.
Thanks to the Greek composers Manos Hatzidakis, Mikis Theodorakis, Zanos Mickrotskios, Manos Loizos, Zimos Motsis, and Yiannis Glizos, Greek singers Dimitris Nikolozis and Kostas Thomaizis sung the poetry of Constantine Cavafy, Odysseus Elytis, Yiannis Ritsos, Nikos Kavadias, Dionysios Solomos, Tassos Leivaditis, Dinos Christianopoulos, Mikhalis Anagnostakis, Manos Eleftheriou, Nikos Gatsos, and Alexis Alkio.
On the other side, Egyptian singer Khaled Shames sang the poetry of the following Egyptian poets: Ahmed Shoki, Ahmed Ramy, Abdel Rahman El-Abnudi, Salah Jahin, Ibrahim Nagy, Kamal Al-Shenawi, and Tunisian Byram Al-Tunisi.
Greek singer Dimitris Nikolozis said in this regard, “Director of the Greek Cultural Center in Alexandria Spanouzi Satvroula saw us performing for the first time in the Greek city of Thessaloniki. She then asked us to hold a similar concert, based on Greek poetry, in Egypt. So I happily accepted the invitation.”
Nikolozis added, “We sing Cavafy’s poetry, whether in discographies or at live shows. Thus, I was very delighted to visit Alexandria, the city of the great Greek poet Constantine Cavafy. For Greeks, Bibliotheca Alexandria is a magnificent place, so when we performed there I was all over the moon.”
Parallel to the “Poet and Singing” act, the 40th Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) started on the 20th of November and ended on the 29th of the same month. Movies were screened at the Cairo Opera House, Zamalek Cinema, and Zawya Cinema (Karim Cinema), Cairo Festival City, and Galaxy Mall of Arabia. Greece participated with two films called “Kazantzakis” and “Pity”.
Kazantzakis is a movie directed and written by Yannis Smaragdis, written by Yannis. The movie’s stars included Odysseas Papaspiliopoulos who played the role of Nikos Kazantzakis, Marina Kalogirou as Eleni Kazantzaki (Kazantzaki’s lover and wife), Nikos Kardonis (Kazantzaki’s friend), and Thodoris Atheridis as Giorgis Zorba.
The film is a biography of the Greek modern literature’s giant writer Nikos Kazantzakis, born in Heraklion, and whose most famous novel is “Life and Times of Alexis Zorba” known as “Zorba the Greek”. “Christ Re-crucified”, “Captain Michalis”, and “The Last Temptation of Christ” were amongst his novels. Cinematically adapting “Zorba the Greek” and “The Last Temptation of Christ” made Kazantzakis famous across English-speakers.
Kazantzakis intelligently utilized his language skills to translate prestigious international work, such as the “Divine Comedy”, “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, and “Iliad”. In nine different occasions, he was nominated for the Noble Prize Literature.
The figure of Jesus was always present in the Greek writer’s thoughts. His moral side was witnessing a conflict between his sense of duty and his human desire to enjoy life. The conflict was depicted through the scenes that narrated his visit to Sinai Desert. Spectators, at the 40th CIFF, were delighted to see Egypt represented in such a meaningful movie, and were also curious to discover what Kazantzakis had to do with Egypt. They fully interacted with the film, till the extent that they shed tears.
The other screened movie “Pity” was directed and written by Babis Markidis, also written by Efthymis Filippou. The Greek actor Yannis Drakopoulos interpreted the role of a masochistic man, who feels happy when he is unhappy, who feels pleasure when people pity him, thus he does his best to arouse people’s pity, and this is how the movie’s name came. Despite the dramatic topic, the film included various comedy scenes that provoked spectators to laugh out loud. After screening, Babis Markidis was presented at the Cairo Opera’s small hall (where the screening took place). Along with spectators, Markidis held and enjoyable and fruitful discussion.
Moving to the third event, from the 28th of November till the 18th of December, the Global Migration Film Festival was celebrated. The Greek Cultural Center-Greek Schools in Cairo hosted on the 12th two short films “Mohamed, the First Name” and “Invisibles”.
Director of the Greek Cultural Center in Cairo Christos Papadopoulos opened the event with a brief introduction. Afterwards Chief IOM Mission to Egypt Laurent De Boeck , Greece’s Ambassador to Egypt Michael Christos Diamessis, Egyptian-Greek celebrity and beloved actress Laila Elwy gave introductory speeches.
“Mohamed, the first name” is a fourteen-minute film, about an eight-year old boy called Mohamed who lives in France. Although “Mohamed” is one of the most popular ones in the world, the boy faces daily challenges because of his name, a situation that led him to dislike it. In a humorous way, the film describes how it feels to be a Muslim migrant nowadays.
“Invisibles” is a twenty five-minute educational project for innovation and social transformation to raise public awareness about migration. The project showed refugees, asylum seekers, expatriates, deportees, immigrants who spoke about their experiences from the Catalan capital of Barcelona and their integration in the Catalan society. The message convoyed was a better understanding for migrants, migration’s causes and consequences.