Michael Cacoyannis  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Michalis Kakogiannis or Michael Cacoyannis (Template:Lang-el; June 11, 1922 – July 25, 2011) was a prominent Greek filmmaker from Cyprus, best known for his 1964 film Zorba the Greek. He directed the 1983 Broadway revival of the musical based on the film. Much of his work was rooted in classical texts, especially those of the Greek tragedian Euripides. He was nominated for an Academy Award five times, a record for any Greek Cypriot film artist. He received Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film nominations for Zorba the Greek, and two nominations in the Foreign Language Film category for Electra and Iphigenia.


Cacoyannis was born on June 11, 1922 in Limassol, Cyprus under the name Μιχάλης Κακογιάννης (Mikhalis Kakogiannis). In 1939, he was sent by his father, Sir Panayotis Loizou Cacoyannis, to London to become a lawyer. However, after producing Greek-language programs for the BBC World Service during World War II, Kakogiannis found an interest in film instead. He ended up at the Old Vic school, and enjoyed a brief stage career there under the name "Michael Yannis" before he began working on films. After having trouble finding a directing job in the British film industry, Cacoyannis returned to Greece, and in 1953 he made his first film, Windfall in Athens. He was offered the chance to direct Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando in the film Reflections in a Golden Eye, but declined.

Cacoyannis had worked on many occasions with the Greek actress Irene Papas and especially Elli Lambeti with whom he was in love. In 1971, he teamed up once more with Papas for the film The Trojan Women, starring Hollywood legend Katharine Hepburn. He was a close friend of Darryl F. Zanuck and George Cukor.

Cacoyannis died on July 25, 2011 in Athens, Greece.


Awards and nominations

Cannes Film Festival

  • 1954 : Golden Palm for "Windfall in Athens" — nominated
  • 1955 : Golden Palm for "Stella" — nominated
  • 1956 : Golden Palm for "A Girl in Black" — nominated
  • 1957 : Golden Palm for "A Matter of Dignity" — nominated
  • 1961 : Golden Palm for "The Wastrel" — nominated
  • 1962 : Golden Palm for "Elektra" — nominated
  • 1962 : Grand Jury Prize for "Elektra" — won
  • 1962 : Technical Award for "Elektra" — won
  • 1977 : Golden Palm for "Iphigenia" — nominated

Berlin International Film Festival

  • 1960 : Golden Bear for "Our Last Spring" — nominated
  • 1963 : David O. Selznick Award for "Elektra" — won

Academy Award (Oscar)

  • 1963 : Best Foreign Language Film for "Elektra" — nominated
  • 1964 : Best Picture for "Zorba the Greek" — nominated
  • 1964 : Best Director for "Zorba the Greek" — nominated
  • 1964 : Best Adapted Screenplay for "Zorba the Greek" — nominated
  • 1977 : Best Foreign Language Film for "Iphigenia" — nominated

Golden Globe

  • 1956 : Best Foreign Language Film for "Stella" — won
  • 1957 : Best Foreign Language Film for "A Girl in Black" — won
  • 1965 : Best Director for "Zorba the Greek — nominated

British Academy Award (BAFTA)

  • 1966 : Best Film for "Zorba the Greek" — nominated
  • 1966 : UN Award for "Zorba the Greek" — nominated

New York Film Critics

  • 1964 : Best Film for "Zorba the Greek" — nominated
  • 1964 : Best Director for "Zorba the Greek" — nominated
  • 1964 : Best Screenplay for "Zorba the Greek" — nominated

David di Donatello Award

  • 1964 : Special Plaque for "Zorba the Greek" — won

Thessaloniki Film Festival

  • 1960 : Special Contribution Award — won
  • 1961 : Best Director for "Our Last Spring" — won
  • 1962 : Best Film for "Elektra" — won
  • 1962 : Best Director for "Elektra" — won
  • 1977 : Best Film for "Iphigenia" — won
  • 1999 : Union of Film and Television Technicians Award for "The Cherry Orchard" — won

Moscow Film Festival

  • 1956 : Silver Medal for "A Girl in Black" — Won

Edinburgh Film Festival

  • 1954 : Diploma of Merit for "Windfall in Athens" — won
  • 1962 : Diploma of Merit for "Elektra" — won

Montreal World Film Festival

  • 1999 : Special Contribution Award — won

Jerusalem Film Festival

  • 1999 : Lifetime Achievement Award — won

Cairo International Film Festival

  • 2001 : Lifetime Achievement Award — won

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Michael Cacoyannis" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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