Leonidas Kyrkos was one of the outstanding figures of the moderate Left. The camera follows him along an exciting, revealing and amusing trip to his country house.
I had admired Leonidas Kyrkos since the election rallies he held on Omonoia Square, in the remote 1981.
Unlike Andreas Papandreou, who was then coming full blast to assume power, Kyrkos convinced me about his integrity as well as genuine sensitivity on social issues.
In early 2006, he was by that time in retirement, I called to ask him to participate in a documentary about Makronisos I had been preparing for several years.
A humble man as he was, he denied there being any noteworthy event from his stay on Makronisos (although I knew well the opposite was true) and he suggested Ilias Staveris as more suitable for the project.
Along the way, we happened to run into each other many times on the street, since we were neighbors in Exarhia and one day he announced to me that not only was he going to be in my Makronisos documentary, but that he also agreed to do the “Paraskinio” picture I had once suggested and which he had originally declined, as well.
The end result was a picture, truthful and confessional, as Kyrkos, towards the end of his life,
didn’t need to hold back any longer due to his involvement in party or politics.
The interview we shot in front of the Greek Parliament, on Syntagma Square is etched in my mind. One reason was that, as soon as filming began, a group of security guards came to us asking for a filming permit. I had failed to apply for one. Kyrkos turned against them for having asked in the first place and for a moment, not having recognized him, they threatened to take him into custody. For a while, I had a strange time travel feeling, as I watched those law enforcement officers attacking Kyrkos, a scene that had been repeated with great violence from 1944 until the fall of the Junta.
The second reason is connected to the interview itself (which took place after the misunderstanding was settled). Standing in front of the Parliament building, the symbol of democracy, Leonidas Kyrkos, a longtime communist and then enlightened leader of the Renewing Left, boldly declared that after years in politics he definitely preferred Parliamentary Republic to Real Socialism, as this was manifested in the 20th century.
It was a sincere and truly touching moment about a self-evident truth that continues to be the subject of debate only in Greece.
Despite our age difference, Kyrkos and I grew closer, became friends and in the years that followed, he requested I made two more films (short subjects this time) to complement two events held in his honor, one, by the Greek world of politics and the other, by the European Parliament.
Before the end credits of the documentary, there is a dedication to my first cat Polydouris, who had died aged 16, during the time the picture was being edited. Kyrkos, who was a cat lover like I was, immediately gave his consent.
In August 2011, on the event of this death, ERT aired the program to honor his memory.