Michael Cacoyannis, the Cyprus-born filmmaker who directed Zorba the Greek, has died at an Athens hospital at the age of 89.
The Associated Press reports that he died early Monday of complications from a heart attack.
Zorba The Greek (1964) was his most famous work, garnering three Oscar nominations for the adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis’ book about Alexis Zorbas, played by Anthony Quinn. He had further foreign-language film Oscar nominations for Electra and Iphigenia.
Many of his films played in Cannes competition.
He was born Mikhalis Kakogiannis in June 1921 in Limassol, Cyprus. He studied and acted in London before making his first film, Windfall in Athens, in Greece in 1954. This was quickly followed by Stella starring Melina Mercouri.
Other films included 1956’s A Girl In Black, 1987’s Sweet Country and 1971’s The Trojan Women; his last film was 1999’s The Cherry Orchard.
Cacoyannis was also a theatre veteran (he worked on the 1983 Broadway revival of the musical based on Zorba).
He set up the non-profit Michael Cacoyannis Foundation in 2003, which has established a cultural centre for theatre, film and other activities, in southern Athens.
Cacoyannis was awarded the Order of the Golden Phoenix (Greece), the Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres (France), the Grand Cross / Order of Makarios 3rd (Cyprus) and the Special Grand Prix of the Americas (Montreal). He has been honoured by the Greek Academy with its highest award for national services and with Lifetime Achievement Award by the Salonica, Jerusalem and Cairo Film Festivals, as well as the American Hellenic Institute in Washington. He has been declared an Honorary Citizen of Limassol, Montpellier and Dallas, and has received Honory Doctorates from Columbia College (Chicago), Athens University, Cyprus University, and the Aristotelio University of Salonica.