Brussels, 25 July 2011
Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou pays tribute to "Zorba the Greek" film director
Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner responsible for Culture, has paid tribute to Michael Cacoyiannis, Cypriot film director, who died in Athens today. He was best known for his adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis' book "Zorba the Greek".
"Michael was a friend and an inspiration to me. The world of culture in Cyprus and in Greece have truly become poorer today. Michael Cacoyiannis was a legend in the Greek speaking world. He worked with some of the great Greek actors such as Irene Papas, Melina Mercouri, as well as such international stars as Anthony Quinn, Tom Courtenay."
Commissioner Vassiliou met the film maker in Athens only last month, when she visited him in his foundation. Michael Cacoyannis was a prominent and well known filmmaker. Much of his work is rooted in classical texts, and was nominated for an Academy awards five times. He received Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film nominations for his adaptation of Nikos Katantzakis' book "Zorba the Greek" in 1964. He received two nominations in the Foreign Language Film category for "Electra" and Iphigenia".
For his work and contributions, Michael Cacoyannis has been honored with distinctions in Greece, Cyprus and abroad. He has been honoured by the Greek Academy with the highest award for national services, with Lifetime Achievement Award by the Thessaloniki, Jerusalem and Cairo Film Festivals, as well as the American Hellenic Institute in Washington. He has been declared an Honorary Citizen of Limassol, Montpellier (France) and Dallas (Texas, USA) and received Honorary Doctorates from Columbia College (Chicago, USA), University of Athens, Cyprus University and the Aristoteleio University of Salonica.
In 2004, Michael Cacoyannis established, in Athens, a charitable foundation called "Michael Cacoyannis Foundation", to which he offered all his life's savings and whose aim is to support, maintain and disseminate the arts of theatre and cinema.