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Theo Angelopoulos dies after road accident on shoot near Athens

The acclaimed Greek director died after sustaining severe injuries in a road accident on Tuesday evening (24) while shooting The Other Sea in Piraeus. He was 76.

Angelopoulos was working in the port city close to Athens when he was hit by a motorbike while shooting exterior sequences. He was rushed to the Metropolitan hospital in the nearby Faliron district.

Angelopoulos was born in Athens on April 17, 1935. After a short spell at Athens University, where he studied law, he went to Paris, studied at the IDHEC Film School, but quit after one year and was employed at the French Cinematheque as a protege of Henri Langlois.

Once back home in Athens he worked as a film critic while putting together his first short film Forminx (1965), dedicated to a band. It was never released.

His first feature film, Reconstruction (1970), shot in black and white, remains a milestone in Greek cinema due to its unusual realistic approach and choice of subject.

Angelopoulos’ international breakthrough came with The Travelling Players (1975), a three-and-a-half hour epic which became a worldwide sensation after its presentation in Cannes’ Director Fortnight for the way it combined historical elements with Greek mythology, while at the same time using extremely long and complex sequence shots.

His references to Greek history and mythology were consistent themes throughout his work, always used for the purpose of discussing the most burning issues of modern Greece and its society. One of the leading modern filmmakers of his day, he managed to have all his later films co-produced by European investors, with some of the leading cinema figures in world cinema, such as Gian-Maria Volonte, Marcelo Mastroianni, Jeanne Moreau, Harvey Keitel, Bruno Ganz, Willem Defoe and Michel Piccoli playing lead roles.

Frequently awarded – almost for every film he made – he earned a Venice Golden Lion for The Beekeeper in 1986 and the European Film Academy Award for Landscape In The Mist (1988).

Cannes gave him the Best Script Award (with Tonino Guerra) for Voyage To Cythera (1984), a Grand Jury Prize for Ulysses’ Gaze (1995) and a Golden Palm for Eternity And A Day (1998).

The first parts of his last trilogy, The Weeping Meadow (2004) and Dust Of Time (2008), screened at the Berlinale, but he never got around to shooting the third and final part.

Instead he started shooting in late December 2011 in the port of Athens and was close to completing The Other Sea featuring Toni Servillo. The story deals with illegal immigration, a topical subject in Greece today.

He leaves behind his wife and producer of most of his films, Phoebe, and three daughters.

 

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