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PRODUCTION Greece

Nikos Kazantzakis biopic completes principal photography

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- The Yiannis Smaragdis-directed Greco-French co-production has finished shooting and is aiming for a 2017 screening date

Nikos Kazantzakis biopic completes principal photography
Director Yiannis Smaragdis

Yiannis Smaragdis is ready to add yet another notch to his hard-earned belt as the country’s leading film biographer, with his latest real-life story already heading towards post-production. Aptly titled Nikos Kazantzakis [+see also:
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, Smaragdis’ new biopic will reconstruct the life, journeys – and life’s journey – of the titular author, whose name became synonymous with his rebellious spirit, and who gained international acclaim when his notorious novel The Last Temptation of Christ was banned from the vast majority of Western countries, including his own.

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Condemned by the Greek Orthodox Church owing to his subversive views on the Christian religion, yet universally regarded as a giant of modern Greek literature, Kazantzakis was nominated for the Nobel Prize in nine different years: in 1957, he lost out to Albert Camus by one vote, with Camus later admitting that Kazantzakis deserved the honour "a hundred times more" than himself.

Given that Kazantzakis was an imposing personality in all the Greek arts, Nikos Kazantzakis will easily be the most ambitious project yet for Smaragdis, who has so far given the film treatment to modern cultural behemoths like Spanish Renaissance painter Domenikos Theotokopoulos (in his 2007 film El Greco) and pirate-turned-millionaire merchant Ioannis Varvakis (in 2012’s God Loves Caviar), garnering minimal critical approval but major box-office returns.

Based on Kazantzakis’ autobiographical novel Report to Greco, which the great author left unfinished owing to his sudden death from Asian flu in 1957, the film’s script was penned by Smaragdis himself and follows Kazantzakis’ turbulent soul-searching journeys through the places he loved, the personalities he admired, and the ideologies he embraced and was disillusioned by.

Shot in Crete, Athens and Aegina, as well as Berlin, Vienna, Paris and Antibes, the film will star Odysseas Papaspiliopoulos as the titular character, with veteran actor Stefanos Linaios appearing as the author in his latter years, and celebrated thespians like Youlika Skafida and Argyris Xafis in supporting roles. Smaragdis’ wife Eleni Smaragdis is heading the film’s production for their own Alexandros Films, with Unifrance’s Vincent Michaud serving as co-producer, while the film is aiming for a 2017 release date courtesy of AudioVisual SA, which previously turned Smaragdis’ El Greco into one of Greece’s greatest box-office successes of recent years.

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