Embassy of Greece - Documentary Series
Until March 20, 2016
National Gallery of Art
6th and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20565

Greek Documentary Series

The films in this series accompany the exhibition Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World. They are presented through the cooperation and support of Eleftherios Ikonomou, ARTSetc. Intercultural Dialogues UG, Berlin, John Goelet Foundation, and AGON, the International Meeting of Archaeological Film of the Mediterranean Area and Beyond, a biannual event organized by the nonprofit association AGON with the support of the Greek archaeological portal Archaeology and Arts. The first AGON took place in 1996, based on the fact that the influence of Greek civilization in this area was decisive  for the development of the cultural identity of contemporary societies. AGON makes a positive contribution to the preservation of our common heritage and to the deeper understanding of those elements that have united the world’s cultures since antiquity. Its mission is the dissemination of knowledge about the ancient world to a wider public through archaeological film. The tenth AGON meets in Athens, May 23 – 29, 2016.

  • Keeping Track of Lost Colors: Colored Marbles of Ancient Greece

    February 2, 9, 16, 23 at 10:30
    March 1, 15 at 10:30
    West Building Lecture Hall

    A testament to the magnificence of painted Greek sculpture in the ancient world can be found in Plato’s writings, which reveal that colorful painting was treasured as much as the sculptor’s work. However, the colors have not survived, and only a few signs remain in the pores of the marble. This film guides viewers through the famous historical sites of Greece: from Samos to the Athens cemetery, the Acropolis, Delphi, and Aegina. The analyses presented not only help to reconstruct the ancient coloring, but also to rediscover the significance of exquisite works of art. (Germany, 2000, 46 mins.) Director: Elli Kriesch Producer: Bayerischer Rundfunk

  • Works on the Acropolis of Athens (The People behind the Monuments) followed by Ancient Hydraulis

    February 2, 9, 16, 23 at 12:30
    March 1, 8, 15 at 12:30
    West Building Lecture Hall

    The film promenades among the people who try to heal the wounds of time on the Acropolis monuments, walking through the scaffolding, the cranes, and the blocks of marble: a journey into the past and present, recording the tremendous changes on the Sacred Rock of the Acropolis. (Greece, 2002, 48 mins.) Director: Socratis Mavrommatis; Producer: The Acropolis Restoration Service

    The hydraulis (or hydraulic organ), the first musical instrument to use keys, is considered to be the ancestor of the church organ. It was invented by Ctesibius, an engineer who lived in Alexandria during the third century BC. The hydraulis spread very rapidly through the Hellenistic and later the Roman world. Over time, the mechanism was replaced by bellows, and the hydraulis joined the family of wind instruments. In this form it survived in the Byzantine empire. In 757, Emperor Constantine V sent an organ as a gift to Pepin the Short, first monarch of the Carolingian dynasty, and eventually it was embraced by the Catholic Church. In 1992, during excavations at the ancient site of Dion, Professor Dimitrios Pantermalis and his associates discovered the upper part of a hydraulis dating from the first century AD. In 1995, the European Cultural Centre of Delphi, with the support of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, initiated a research program for the reconstruction of the so-called Dion Hydraulis. The instrument, the best possible replica of ancient hydraulic organs, was completed in May 1999. (Greece, 1999, 10 mins.) Director: Maria Hatzimihali-Papaliou; Producer: European Cultural Centre of Delphi

  • Alexander the Great

    February 2, 9, 16, 23 at 2:30
    March 1, 8, 15 at 2:30
    West Building Lecture Hall

    Piecing together the surviving remnants of the material and artistic culture of Alexander’s kingdom in ancient Macedonia, this film aims to compare his legend with the historical record using the multitude of representations discovered, and the archaeological traces left behind, over the course of his vast conquests. Actor Jonathan Hostier interprets extracts from The Blue Tiger of the Euphrates, a play written by Laurent Gaudé, in an entirely new approach to the universe of Alexander the Great and his impact on the world. The film was screened during the exhibition In the Kingdom of Alexander the Great — Ancient Macedoniahosted at the Louvre in 2012. (France, 2011, 52 mins.) Director: Bernard George; Producer: Les Films du Tambour de Soie

  • Sculpting the Human Figure: The Female Form in Ancient Greek Sculpture followed by The Male Form in Ancient Greek Sculpture

    February 11, 18 at 10:30
    March 3 at 10:30
    West Building Lecture Hall

    From the dressed Kores of the Archaic period to the half-nude Aphrodites of the Classical period to the realism of the Hellenistic period, the female figure in ancient Greek sculpture was constantly evolving, whether representing goddesses or ordinary mortals. The depiction of gods did not differ from that of humans in size, beauty, or spirituality. This film follows a team of students who reflect, in their paintings, on the details and secrets of a great artistic expression. (Greece, 2009, 28 mins.) Director: Panos Pappas, Despoina Charalambous; Producer: Greek Educational TV (Ministry of Education)

    From earliest beginnings until the Roman Conquest, this film focuses on three periods — Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic — analyzing the transition from the molding of the figure to the depiction of the Classical ideal and to later, realistic forms. At the same time, the film studies the social and economic conditions that led to the development of sculpture in ancient Greek civilization. As the narration continues, a group of students is searching for their own fresh point of view on the statuary of the past. (Greece, 2008, 27 mins.) Director: Panos Pappas, Despoina Charalambous; Producer: Greek Educational TV (Ministry of Education)

  • Lysippos Epoesen (aka Lysippos Created): The Story and the Art of Alexander the Great’s Legendary Sculptor

    February 11, 18, 25 at 12:30
    March 3 at 12:30
    West Building Lecture Hall

    In July 1995, 2,300 years after the death of legendary Greek sculptor Lysippos, an exhibition at the Palazzo dell’ Esposizioni in Rome is held, for the first time assembling sculptures and other pieces from European and American museums and collections. The sculptor’s life coincides with the fourth century BC — an extremely important period during which the model of the “city state” was abolished and Macedonian domination was established. Lysippos was the exclusive portraitist of Alexander the Great. All the characteristic traits of the art of the new Hellenistic era are embodied in his work. A true representative of this epoch and its changes, Lysippos was the artist who, by capturing the message of the times, laid the foundation for the work of later sculptors. (Greece, 1996, 57 mins.) Written, Designed and Directed by Niko Franghias. Produced by Kino S.A. & Center TV Productions Award for Best Script, AGON, 1996.

  • Work Which Remains Hidden

    February 7, 14, 21, 28 at 11:30
    March 6, 13, 20 at 11:30
    West Building Lecture Hall

    This film is a documentation of the restoration work of the Classical bronze statue The Praying Boy (Der Betende Knabe). Cast around 300 BC, this sculpture was found near the city walls of Rhodes in 1503. After a journey through various European royal collections, it was purchased by Frederick the Great of Prussia in 1747. In the course of centuries, it underwent many restorations and changes. The current restoration was preceded by a meticulous examination using different methods to determine casting techniques from antiquity, as well as traces of previous restorative work. These results provided basic information for further restoration: dismounting the statue, installing a new interior framework, and putting it together again. After completion, there is no visible change in appearance. (Germany, 1997, 20 mins.) Director: Jürgen Mrosek; Producer: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin  Award for Scientific Approach, AGON 2000

  • The World’s First Computer: The Antikythera Mechanism

    February 7, 14, 21, 28 at 1:30
    March 6, 13, 20 at 1:30
    West Building Lecture Hall

    This film is a scientific detective story set against the extraordinary background of ancient Greece, where a modern research team uncovers a fascinating trail of clues that leads to startling conclusions. In the first-ever major underwater archaeology, cargo from a wreck found near the rocky island of Antikythera, between Crete and mainland Greece, was recovered and taken to the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. Among the priceless ancient Greek bronze sculptures and glassware is another bronze object, no bigger than a modern laptop. At first disregarded, months later it split apart into many fragments, revealing the remains of ancient inscriptions and tiny gearwheels. It is now known as the “Antikythera Mechanism.” Over more than a century, the mechanism has given up its secret: it belonged to a mechanical computer that was actually built in ancient Greece, bringing to light innovations of the ancient Greeks and rewriting the history of technology. (International coproduction, 2012, 74 mins.) Director: Mike Beckham; Producer: Images First, ERT, ARTE, NHK

  • A Third Life for Messene

    February 7, 14, 21, 28 at 3:30
    March 6, 13, 20 at 3:30
    West Building Lecture Hall

    In 1987, the archaeologist Petros Themelis was assigned the excavation of ancient Messene. In the peaceful setting of mountainous Messenia, in western Peloponnesus, the archaeological site was a messy and abandoned place. In the years that follow, all the signature buildings of the ancient city, founded in 397 BC to accommodate the exiled Messenians — its fortification walls, theater, stadium, temples, private residences, and funerary monuments — are rediscovered. Slowly and painstakingly, the geography of an immense city emerges, developing like a photograph in a darkroom and providing the context for the traces of past inhabitants. The city becomes viable once more, people repopulate the landscape, and monuments acquire new life and uses. The Third Life of Messene has just begun. (Greece, 2009 – 2010, 67 mins.)
    Director: Athanassia Drakopoulou; Producer: Cinegram

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