Peter Yiannoudes (Photo supplied by Michael Protopapa)
Speaker: Panayiotis Yiannoudes, JP OAM
When: Wednesday 2nd October 2019 6:30pm
Where: Greek Centre, 168 Lonsdale St, Melbourne.
Greek cinema in Australia played a very significant social and cultural role in the Greek Community. It became a weekly social gathering for Greeks to meet, foster long-term friendships and in many cases marriage. Greek cinema was a medium that kept the community in touch with their homeland, its language and culture. From the early 1960s until the mid-1980s, every week a ten-minute newsreel was sent to Australian from Greece. The newsreel screened before the main film that featured political, social, cultural and sporting evens. This became a very contentious issue during the Junta dictatorship between 1967 and 1974. Most people took offence seeing the propaganda political views of the dictators on screen. Unfortunately for the exhibitors, they were forced to screen the news by the Greek Consulate and, if they refused, there was the threat by the Greek Junta that supply of new Greek films would cease. Greek Cinema in Australia played an integral part in raising money for charities and various Greek community organisations to help build churches, set up their clubrooms and halls.
Greek films were not only screened in the main cities but throughout Australia’s small and larger towns. Approximately 1250 Greek films have been commercially released in Australia, from 1949 until 1986. The most notable Greek film distributor and exhibitor in Melbourne was Cosmopolitan Motion Pictures that was formed in 1958. They had exclusive rights to the biggest film companies in Greece, Finos films, Damaskinos Michaelides, Karayiannis Karatzopoulos, James Paris films, Klak films, Phoenix films, Antzervos films, Pergantis films, Novak films, Spentzos films, Kyriakopoulos Bros, Nikos Avrameas, Roussopoulos Bros – Giorgos Lazaridis-D. Sarris-K. Psarras and many other smaller film producers and distributors.
The directors of Cosmopolitan Motion Pictures were Panayiotis Yiannoudes, Stathis Raftopoulos and Andreas Papadopoulos.
Panayiotis Yiannoudes has worked tirelessly on Greek national issues for over fifty years for the Greek and Greek Cyprio Communities. He has served in various Greek Community organisations and received the O.A.M. in 2013.
A pioneer of the film industry, Panayiotis Yiannoudes started his cinematic career in Limassol, Cyprus, in 1950 and continued when he migrated to Australia in 1956. In 1957, he became the sole agent of Finos films in Australia and, in 1958, along with Stathis Raftopoulos and Andreas Papadopoulos, formed Cosmopolitan Motion Pictures that became a major exhibitor and distributor of Greek and other foreign language films.
Cosmopolitan Motion Pictures also toured many artist and theatrical groups in Australia with the highlights being Kostas Hatjichristos, Ntinos Iliopoulos, Nikos Xanthopoulos, Marinella and Mikis Theodorakis in 1973. The Mikis Theodorakis tour was the most daring because the Junta was still in power in Greece and the political and business fallout was immense for supporting a left-wing activist living in exile in France.
Panayiotis Yiannoudes self-published in 2010 “Greek cinema across Australia: behind the scenes”.