One of my favorite documentaries for “Paraskinio”, mainly because it was about a man I respect enormously.
From the moment Loukos took over the Athens Festival, he was a breath of fresh air. He introduced a new venue for the festival, on Piraeus street, the audience got the chance to enjoy some of the great figures of theatre and dance on the international scene, Greek artists were given a platform to express themselves, and it was a change the audience loved.
The greatest gain from Loukos' tenure was the creation a trained audience and the emergence of a new generation of artists, who had developed an understanding of theatre, music and dance, free of the bias and the narrow-mindedness that had plagued the field for decades.
That was the most precious legacy, not suggesting of course that all the old prejudice had completely subsided.
I was introduced to Yorgos Loukos in 2007, at the theatre of Lefteris Voyatzis. I proposed following him with my camera for a full year and capture all the fervent artistic and intellectual activity that was taking place at the festival, in progress. And at the same time, to introduce the audience to our famous, but unknown countryman, who managed the festival so effectively. He agreed to my proposal and we started right away.
I filmed him everywhere; at the festival offices, during rehearsals, at the ancient Odeon in Athens, at Epidaurus and of course at the complex on Piraeus street. The highlight was following him to the Opéra National de Lyon to shoot some never-seen-before footage of Loukos in his capacity as the artistic director of the Lyon Opera Ballet.
At the Lyon shootings I was accompanied by Michele Valley, who was a great help to me, not only because of the language factor, but also due to her unique sensitivity, which made her a valuable asset during the very demanding shooting in Lyon. The picture is completed by some rare and informative footage of the construction works, while repurposing the buildings at the Festival's venue. I owe this footage to Anna Votsi, whom I had met working for Cinetic as a production manager, when I first joined the “Paraskinio” team. At the time the documentary was being shot, she was working for the Athens Festival and was kind enough to let me use this rare material.
The “Paraskinio” on Yorgos Loukos is a live document of that great 10-year period. We have already tasted the fruits that period produced and we are surely going to be talking about them in the years to come.
Loukos is the man who broke every taboo and managed to shape a high-level audience, who learned through their contact with leading international artists, to appreciate things in the true essence, to welcome anything new and to detach themselves from the dangerous misconception that they should be the keepers of a sanctified tradition. We all remember the despicable behavior of the audience in 2008 and 2009 at Epidaurus. That kind of unwholesome mentality, that had been pestering us for years, was finally cured when we came into contact with the numerous and diverse artists that Loukos had called in and who helped broaden the audiences horizons and similarly the domestic artists’.
The way, in which Loukos was expelled form the Athens Festival, was disgraceful for the country; an instance of hideous maneuvering, which resulted in the backlash of the Greek artists.
I’m glad I had made the documentary on Loukos, which records that period.
And I am glad that this picture gave me the chance to become friends with Yorgos, whom I respect deeply.