1921, June 11 – 2011, July 25
Born on June 11, 1921 in Limassol, Cyprus, Michael Cacoyannis was the elder son of Sir Panayiotis and Lady Cacoyannis. He studied law in London and was called to the Bar (Barrister-at-law) in 1943. While working for the BBC’s Greek service, first as a news announcer and then as a producer of cultural programs, he also studied acting at the Central School of Dramatic Art in London and directing at the Old Vic School.
Not long after his debut as an actor in 1947, he decided to concentrate instead on directing. In 1952 he left London to settle in Athens and one year later the success of his first film (“Windfall in Athens”) marked the beginning of an international career in directing. Among them “Stella”, “A Girl in Black”, “A Matter of Dignity”, “Zorba the Greek” and the trilogy of “Electra”, “The Trojan Women”, “Iphigenia”,his films were regurarly screened at the most prestigious International film festivals, receiving awards and distinctions. Michael Cacoyannis has worked with some of the best and most distinguished actors of his time, in Greece, Europe and Hollywood.
Michael Cacoyannis has distinguished himself not only as an international filmmaker, but also as a stage and opera director, with critically acclaimed productions in Greece, the U.S. France and other European countries. He has published several screenplays, he has translated Shakespeare’s plays into Greek and Euripides into English, and he has written the lyrics of some of the best-known and best-loved Greek songs.
It was Michael Cacaoyannis’ initiative that led to the dramatic new illumination of the Acropolis He enlisted the services of the famous French Engineer Pierre Bideau for a study, and after generous donations by the Friends of Athens, which he established, the project finally received backing from the Ministry of Culture and the City of Athens.
In 2004, Michael Cacoyannis established a charitable foundation in his name, whose aim is to support , preserve and promote the arts of Theatre and Cinema. The foundation’s Cultural Centre, located in Piraeus Street, in the district of Tavros, opened it’s doors to the public in October 2009.
For his work and overall contributions to the Arts, Michael Cacoyannis has been awarded the Order of the Golden Phoenix (Greece), the Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres (France), the Grand Cross / Order of Makarios 3rd (Cyprus) and the Special Grand Prix of the Americas (Montreal). He has been honoured by the Greek Academy with its highest award for national services and with Lifetime Achievement Award by the Salonica, Jerusalem and Cairo Film Festivals, as well as the American Hellenic Institute in Washington. He has been declared an Honorary Citizen of Limassol, Montpellier and Dallas, and has received Honory Doctorates from Columbia College (Chicago), Athens University, Cyprus University, and the Aristotelio University of Salonica.