Astero

Gaziadis Dimitris

Greece, 1929

REVIEWS

The story is set in a leafy village of Peloponnese, on the fabled hillsides of mount Helmos, around places that inspired a German poet to write: “Everything changed in Greece / Time changed everything / Not only did it change/ flock and shepherd.” Here lies the property of Kyr-Mitros, a rich peasant who lives with his son, Thymios, and his adopted daughter, Astero. The two kids grow up together, supporting each other and becoming good friends. Overtime, their friendship evolves into something deeper and more intimate. However, their dreams and wishes come to an end by tough Kyr-Mitros’ master-plan. When Stamos, a prosperous herder, comes to town, he falls in love with Astero and takes her with him. Will there be a twist of fate? Driven by guilt and watching his son withering, Kyr-Mitros reveals an important secret… This pastoral romance mesmerized audiences of the time. The screenplay is based on a literary piece by Pavlos Nirvanas, published under the title Ramona.

THE DIRECTOR

Dimitris Gaziadis

Dimitrios Gaziadis (1897-1961), born in Athens, was one of the first directors/cinematographers in the history of Greek Cinema. He studied photography in Germany and worked as a teacher in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. He has been an apprentice and assistant director to great filmmakers of the time (Dupont, Lubitsch, Pabst, Lang) and the first camera operator in films made by Ernst Lubitsch. In Germany, he shot documentaries, newsreels and film shorts starring famous actors, such as Eva Richter, Albert Paulig, and many more.

He founded “Dolik Film”, a film company, in Berlin where he worked as an army camera operator. During the First World War, Dimitrios Gaziadis, who initially served as a military officer, became Head of German Army’s Film Department. In 1919 the Greek government commissioned him to cover military operations in Asia Minor. He arrived in Asia Minor carrying film projectors and equipment for troop recreation. At first, he shot battlefield scenes. Among others, he filmed the Battle of Sakarya. A year later (1920), he completed his first film, The Greek Miracle (To Ellinikon Thavma), where he included scenes from the Campaign in Asia Minor and from the Battle of Sakarya.

Feeling nostalgic, he began researching, together with his brother Kostas, the state of Greek film production. They both realized that Greek cinema lacked in technical expertise. In collaboration with his third sibling, Michalis, a representative of the film companies Fox, Gaumont and Ufa in Athens, he set off bringing Hollywood studio system to Greece.

In 1923, they bought equipment and set up a movie studio based on a capital of approximately three million drachmas. The Dag Film Co. – Gaziadis Bros, they established, was the first film production company founded in Greece. At some point, Dag Film Co. turned into an Anonymous Company (SA) focusing on feature film production.  In 1927, they shot Love and Waves (Eros ke Kymata – January 1928). This comedy, which  offered spatial readings of Athenian landscape, made an impression on Greek audience who spoke favorably of  it. Most important, the film raised the Greek audience’s hope. They felt that they would soon watch more films shot in their home-country and feel happy about.

Gaziadis brothers – Kostas, Head of Production and Sales; Michalis, Camera Operator and Technical Director; and Alexandros, Head of Lab and electrician – equipped their labs with high-end technology and employed young writers, decorators, painters and actors with a passion for film. Pavlos Nirvanas, a journalist and one of the period’s best chronicle writers, was one of Gaziadis’ collaborators and advisers of the time. Gaziadis’ films helped in raising  the status of Greek film production, which prevailed in the local market and made gross profit in domestic box office (25,000 tickets were sold during Love and Waves’ first screening week, while Astero sold 80,000 tickets, 40,000 of which were sold on the opening night).

Dag Film produced the first Greek films of the so-called “silent era,” until the 1930s. The emergence of sound cinema (also known as the “talkies”) and the competition with international films were the reasons leading to DAG Film’s downfall and final dissolution.

FILMOGRAPHY

  • 1. Greek Miracle (Ellinikon Thavma) (1921)
  • 2. Prometheus Bound, (film documentation of the theatre performance of the same title, which was staged by Angelos and Eva Sikelianos during the Delphic Festival)
  • 3. Love and Waves (Eros and Kymata) (1927)
  • 4. The Harbour of Tears (To Limani ton Dakryon)” (1928)
  • 5. Astero (1929)
  • 6. The Storm (I Mpora) (1930)
  • 7. The Apaches of Athens (Oi Apachides ton Athinon)” (1930)
  • 8. Kiss me, Maricha (Filise me, Maritsa) (1930)
  • 9. Casting out Poverty (Exo Ftochia) ” (1932)

DETAILS

Director: Dimitris Gaziadis

Screenplay: Pavlos Nirvanas

Source: Pavlos Nirvanas

Screen Adaptation: Dimitris Gaziadis, Orestis Laskos

Director of Photography: Michalis Gaziadis

Color: Black & White

Duration: 57’

Cast: Aliki Theodoridou (Astero), Emilios Veakis (Mitros), Kostas Moussouris (Thymios), Dimitris Tsakiris (Stamos)

REFERENCES

Karalis, Vrasidas. A History of Greek Cinema. New York, London: Continuum, 2012.

Argiris Tsiapos, Oi protes tainies tou ellinikou kinimatografou, Enthesis, Serres, 2015

Mitropoulou Aglae. Greek cinema, second edition, Papazizi, Athens, 2002

Papadimitriou Lydia “The National and the Transnational in Contemporary Greek Cinema.” New Review of Film and Television Studies 9, no. 4, 493 – 512

Soldatos, Giannis. History of Greek Cinema : 1900-1967 Athens, Egokeros, 2002

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