Images © Nikos Nikolopoulos

A decade after the tragic death of Greek filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos, Bridge-Builder – a new exhibition in Athens of on-set photography by filmmaker Nikos Nikolopoulos – gives us a glimpse behind the scenes of the making of his last, unfinished film, The Other Sea. 

Widely regarded as one of the greatest filmmakers in European cinema, Angelopoulos (1935 to 2012) is celebrated for his ambitious socio-political films, from The Travelling Players (1975) to the Palme d’Or-winning Eternity and a Day (1998), which tackle the lives and tragedies of 20th-century Greek and Balkan people under dictatorial regimes. He was filming the final part of his latest trilogy – following The Weeping Meadow (2004) and The Dust of Time (2008) – in the industrial port suburb of Piraeus when he was knocked down by a motorcyclist and killed, aged 76, on 24 January 2012.

The Other Sea had been in production for 20 days prior to Angelopoulos’s sudden death, with Toni Servillo and Eirini Stratigopoulou cast in the leading roles. Although it was never realised and little detail about the project is public, it was to take place in Greece in 2011 and tell the story of ‘P’, a businessman from Istanbul (commonly referred to as Polis in colloquial Greek speech) and the father of a young woman who dreams of performing Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera. 

Thanks to the film’s co-writer Petros Markaris, it’s known that Angelopoulos wrote more than 100 different versions of the script, which tackles the theme of migration and a factory workers’ strike in an attempt to capture the effects of deep recession in his country.

Scrupulously put together by curators Christoforos Marinos and Vangelis Ioakimidis, the exhibition Bridge-Builder reveals Angelopoulos’s dedication to his craft and his emotional attachment to his cast and crew. It gives us some fascinating remnants of what might have been, and should rekindle interest in a project that’s remembered mainly for the unfortunate loss of its creator.

The exhibition Bridge-Builder runs from 29 January until 2 March 2022 at the Melina Merkouri Cultural Centre, Athens.

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