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(Mikhalis Kakogiannis)


Born: Limassol, Cyprus, 11 June 1922.

Greek Cypriot film director, also theatre director, editor and producer. After law studies in Britain, Cacoyannis became a producer for the BBC's wartime Greek-language broadcasts, simultaneously attending drama school and acting on stage. He went to Greece in 1952, where he directed his first feature, Kiriakatiko xipnima / Windfall in Athens (1954). He worked with facility in both the theatre and the cinema, directing critically acclaimed films such as Stella (1955) and To koritsi me ta mavra / The Girl in Black (1956). These films were distinguished by their sensitive treatment of contemporary Greek issues, use of authentic locations and promising new actors (Elli Lambeti, Giorgos Foundas, and Melina Mercouri, who made her screen debut in Stella). With those of Nikos Koundouros, Cacoyannis' films were the first independent Greek productions to attract international attention. In 1962 he directed Ilektra / Electra, the first of a trilogy of adaptations of Euripides tragedies, and in 1964 he achieved international fame with the US production of Zorba the Greek, starring Anthony Quinn and based on the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis. Zorba the Greek remains his biggest success. His next film, The Day the Fish Came Out (1967), an international production, was by comparison an anti-climax. Cacoyannis returned to Greek productions without the results his early career had seemed to promise.

Thomas Nedelkos, Encylopedia of European Cinema

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This page was last updated on 23 July 2000.