Eftihia at the Greek Film Festival
The 2022 Greek Film Festival opened in Sydney on October 13, 2022 with the acclaimed film Eftihiaa biographical drama about the life and times of Greek lyricist and composer Ευτυχία Παπαγιαννοπούλου (Eftihia Papagiannopoulou).
The festival, organized by the Greek Orthodox Community of NSW, was officially opened by the newly arrived Greek Consul General in Sydney, Ioannis Mallikourtis to a packed house at the Palace Norton Street cinema complex in Leichhardt. Mr. Mallikourtis underlined the historical significance of the film, screened 100 years after the Asia Minor Catastrophe, and congratulated the Festival organizers for their decision to direct this film.
The film, which was first released in 2019 and winner of eight Hellenic Film Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor and Actress, definitely lived up to all expectations.
The film begins with chaotic scenes of the collapse of Smyrna in 1922 under the Turkish Ottoman assault and the desperate attempts of the inhabitants to escape the inferno that is unleashed in this Levantine city. Eftihia, who was married at the age of 15 to a much older man, holds her two young daughters, Mary and Kaita, in her arms and together with her mother, they escape hell and arrive in Piraeus to begin a new life.
But for Eftihia, this life does not include her husband, for whom she no longer has feelings after years of separation. She was desperate to pursue her acting dreams, but it was ultimately her incredible talent and ability to write popular lyrics and poetry that defined her professional career, particularly during the turbulent decades of the 1950s and 1960s in Greece.
The director, Anthony Frantzis, calls on two great actors to embody the unconventional songwriter. A young and restless Eftihia is played by Katia Goulioni and the older, chain-smoking and courageous writer is played by Karyofyllia Karabeti. Through flashbacks, the audience feels the emotions and passions as well as the demons of a woman who became a seminal figure in Greek popular music and who was arguably the best lyricist in Greece.
Papagiannopoulou was actually a prolific lyricist with over 200 songs attributed to her. When inspired, she wrote her five-line verses as they came to her, whether on a piece of paper, a napkin, a cigarette box, or whatever she could find to scribble. his thoughts. She collaborated with many renowned musicians and composers to whom she usually sold her lyrics for a few hundred drachmas to feed her card game addiction, even if it meant giving up her intellectual property rights.
Songs attributed to Eftihia Papagiannopoulou are legendary and include:
Your kavourakia (The little crabs), music: Vassilis Tsitsanis
Dio gates echi i zoi (Life has two doors), music: Stelios Kazantzidis
your alania (The children of the gutter), music: Vassilis Tsitsanis
Ime aetos horis ftera (I am a wingless eagle), music: Manos Hadjidakis
Mi me paratas (Do not leave me), music: Apostolos Kaldaras
Bouzouki soft spasoun (If They Break My Bouzouki), Music: George Zambetas
The joys and ecstasy of life were embedded in his words. The songs “I am a wingless eagle” to the music of Manos Hadjidakis and “Life has two doors” performed by Stelios Kazantzidis were written in a melancholy period after the tragic death of his eldest daughter, Mary, in 1960.
Eftihia’s life is probably best summed up in the words of the wingless eagle:
Like the eagle I had wings oh oh oh
and I was flying
and I was flying very high
but a beloved hand
a beloved hand
clip my wings
don’t fly high
I am a wingless eagle
without love or joy
without love or joy
I am a wingless eagle
This beloved hand oh oh oh
in life i will love it
whatever he did to me
I forgive everything he’s done
even with broken wings
I will love her forever
During the trip, Eftihia literally bumps into her second husband, Giorgos Papagiannopoulos, a policeman but also a lover of literature, in the neo-classical ambience of the glorious National Library in central Athens. They married in 1928 and remained together until his death. His daughters became his daughters.
We also meet his lifelong servant and confidant, Loukas, who with humor and compassion, is there to counter Eftihia’s unpredictability.
In 1970, Eftihia wrote that folk music “is written first with heart and feeling, then with technique and in this way it only upsets us, sets us in motion, makes us think”.
Eftihia Papagiannopoulou was Greece’s beloved poet and lyricist and her extraordinary life is best known for the many popular songs that continue to resonate today. This film is a tribute to a remarkable woman.
Greece may have lost a great but flawed soul in 1972, but its artistic legacy will live on forever.
George Vardas is the arts and culture editor. The Greek Film Festival runs until October 30, 2022.