New York.- By Vicki James Yiannias
The film APOCALYPSE AGAIN: ACCEPTING INHERITANCE, a stunningly informative film by director/writer Christos Godas about the island of Patmos—both its spiritual side and its gorgeousness–was shown in the 11th Annual New York City Greek film Festival (NYCGFF)on October 3.
Consul General of Greece Dr. Konstantinos Koutras came forward to show the filmmaker his overwhelming appreciation for the film’s high quality information, its spirit, and for its great value toward the promotion of Greece at a time that could not be more relevant.
The documentary had the ambition to be the first episode in a series of “Religious Tourism” documentaries that Godas is proposing to make, he said. However, in the process of making the film Godas realized that APOCALYPSE AGAIN: ACCEPTING INHERITANCEis a project independent of the series.
After seeing the film, I wondered, as one does with new inventions, why in a country like Greece, which is covered with religious sites in beautiful places, “Religious Tourism” documentaries as such haven’t been done before.
“The boat for Patmos was leaving at night,” Godas says at the beginning of the film, “just as everyone’s journey toward knowledge and light begins from within the darkness of the human soul.” APOCALYPSE AGAIN: ACCEPTING INHERITANCE covers life on Patmos from its international social scene to the Holy Cave of the Apocalypse where St. John was given his vision then wrote The Book of Revelation, and the library and museum of the Monastery of St. John the Theologian. The Monastery of St. John the Theologian, the Cave of the Apocalypse and the island’s Historic Center, Chora, were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1999.
Brief and engrossing interviews enhance the film and make it highly topical, with Nicholas Alexiou, Professor of Sociology at CUNY Queens College discussing revelations of the modern world such as the nature and value of diversity, and noted Byzantinist Hélène Glykatzi-Ahrweiler of the Sorbonne (author of Γιατί το Βυζάντιο) explaining why the Greeks did not experience the Renaissance and did not experience the Enlightenment, and how the Greek preservation of the accomplishments of antiquity was mainly the achievement of the monastics.
GN: I felt that the film is many things, a travelogue, a lifestyle/culinary adventure, a personal discovery.
CG: APOCALYPSE AGAIN: ACCEPTING INHERITANCE is not a typical documentary. I try to give a sense of fiction through the fact that it is a personal trip. In the middle of the process, when I began editing, I decided to reduce some of the lifestyle references (although part of the life of the island is its touristic character): in the cruise scene sequence I say “Stop”, then there is a freeze frame, because Greece has the sea, beaches, wonderful food and the nice life, but the problem lies in how we handle these assets. I say “Stop” to point out that we must give thought to how we will accept this inheritance.
This is one of the most important parts of the movie. I point out that it’s how we administrate all those attributes that is important. Greece is one of the most beautiful places in the world, but it is bitter to have that wonderful heritage yet so many problems because of how we administrate our country, the greatest loss being the bleeding out of our human resources.
GN: Why did you not use any Byzantine chant for the interior scenes of the church and monastery?
CG: My opinion was that the use of Byzantine chant in that environment would be emphasizing the obvious to the point that it would border on “kitsch”.
GN: How did you choose the music in the film?
CG: I felt that the mood of the images matched my friend Pantelis Thalassinos’ musical style. Pantelis, who is very famous for his songs as a composer and singer, was very generous, giving me whatever music I needed for the film. Out of 20 songs under consideration we narrowed it down to 10. We chose a style of music that combines Byzantine Music with local instruments, the kanonaki and the guitar for example —no electrical instruments of course—for a sound that is close to traditional Greek music.
GN: There were beautiful shots of the sea.
CG: Yes. One of the most important factors in the Greek heritage and in Greek identity is the sea… the sea, the light—the sun and sky—and the perfection of the Greek language. For this reason, I chose to include several scenes of swimming and diving into the sea. And I bring in the Greek language through scenes in the library which show and emphasize that the writings of the Greek tragedians and philosophers were saved by the monastic community.
GN: Is there anything you would change about the film?
CG: I felt the presence of language in the film is radical… in some parts of the film I left out the voiceover so that there would be only music and images, for a deeper feeling
GN: “Religious Tourism” in Greece is a great idea. Will you do more documentaries featuring other religious sites in Greece?
CG: “The truth is that I have already proposed to Greek National Television (ERT) a series of 16 episodes that would cover a large part of Greece. I haven received any official answer yet. I assume that economic austerity makes funding of the project very difficult.
GN: How did you manage to make the film?
CG: I shouldered the costs of the entire production of this film myself.It was based on the efforts of my colleagues, the cinematographer, Dimitris Polidoropoulos, and the editor, Michalis Kaligeris and our passion for the project… and our almost nonstop work… 20 hours a day some weeks while we were shooting on Patmos.
I think that if people who can, would support this project it would be a great gift to Greece because jobs would be created, and most importantly, the project would be a great tool for the promotion of the country all over the world.
My dream would be to find supporters for the project. I have agreed with EOT (GNTO) that when the project is completed, all the touristic shots from the documentaries will be given to EOT to use for their campaigns, gratis;for this the documentaries will be under the auspices of EOT. Also, my idea is for Greek National Television to broadcast the documentaries in Greece and to sell them abroad to promote Greece, gratis.
By this means donors would be making a double gift to Greece: they would be giving jobs to people while promoting Greece internationally.
GN: What are your plans for the film?
CG: APOCALYPSE AGAIN: ACCEPTING INHERITANCE will participate in various film festivals internationally in the new year. Also,due to demand, the film to be shown again in New York. By the end of January, it will have been shown in New York and Philadelphia. Connecticut has also been contact with us.In 2018,the film will be shown throughout Greece.
See you at the movies!
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