First Greek sound film resurfaces in French archive

The first silent Greek film set to music, believed lost for decades, will be shown again this month after resurfacing in a French archive and undergoing restoration, organisers said this week.
The 1930 film Oi Apachides ton Athinon (The Apaches of Athens) about social inequality was rediscovered in 2016 by the Cinémathèque Française, the Greek film archive said in a statement.
Seen as an a vital link in the history of early Greek cinema, it was digitally restored at a lab in Bologna, Italy with funding from the private Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and will be shown again at the Greek National Opera on February 15.
“This historic movie (offers) valuable (insight) into 1930s Athens… (it) is the first Greek movie to be accompanied by a synchronised recording of music and songs,” the organisers said.
“In a closed-door showing in Bologna in June, representatives from the Cinematheque Française, the Greek film archive and L’Immagine Ritrovata lab were impressed as the cultural quality of the film was beyond any expectation,” the statement said.
Based on a hugely popular 1921 operetta and starring some of the biggest stars of the Greek music scene of the era, the silent film by the Gaziadis brothers immortalised glimpses of daily bustle in central Athens and the suburbs at landmarks that have since changed irrevocably.
“It has preserved scenes of Athens that we have never seen before,” said National Opera alternative stage artistic director Alexandros Efklidis.
Among locations visited were the Tatoi summer palace of the Greek royal family, organisers said.
Few decent copies of Greek films from this period have survived, as during Greece’s brutal occupation by Nazi German forces in World War II “films were sold for re-use because of hunger,” said restorer Electra Venaki. — AFP