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“George Bizos: Icon” a Champion of Justice

Bizos photo 03

“George Bizos: Icon” a Champion of Justice

The President of the Greek Community of Melbourne, Bill Papastergiadis, OAM, writes about the special screening of the documentary "George Bizos: Icon, that Melburnians had the chance to enjoy on Wednesday, 25th October, at Palace Cinema Como.

The documentary is a cinematic triumph that pays tribute to a legal legend, a champion of justice, and a humanitarian par excellence, George Bizos. It not only educates, but also touches the heart and soul.

The telling moment for me in the George Bizos documentary was when his granddaughter remarked soon after his death “But I thought he would live forever”. For those who saw the documentary at the Greek Community of Melbourne’s Film Festival, we are left with the firm belief that Bizos does in fact live forever, as his deeds and words have left a lasting impression in our hearts and minds.

The title of the documentary “George Bizos: Icon” does justice to this man, particularly with the use of the word Icon. From a young age he demonstrated immense courage. We learnt how as a 13yo during the Second World War he would put his life at risk by secretly feeding New Zealand soldiers who were hiding in the Peloponnese. That courage would take him as a 13yo to assist these soldiers with a boat so as to help them to a safe destination.

George Bizos in fact joined them on the boat to flee the Nazis. His life was characterized by this courage and pursuit of justice. Other key examples of this unwavering courage and sense of fairness, included allowing as the Apartheid regime characterized certain people, a colored person to join him in his chambers as a barrister. This was done at a time when this was largely forbidden.

The documentary succeeds in revealing the human side of George Bizos. It allows us to see a multifaceted individual whose passion for justice was deeply intertwined with his compassion for the human condition. His sense of empathy and conviction for what is right are evident in every frame, leaving a profound impact on the viewer.

Perhaps the most touching aspect of the documentary was hearing Nelson Mandela talking in a sweet voice about his good friend George Bizos. The affection and deep love of Nelson Mandela to George Bizos was clear. And these feelings were no doubt based on the decades of work undertaken by George Bizos whether it was setting up a high school for all students no matter their color, helping to draft the South African Constitution, setting up a legal aid service, the key role of his in the Truth and Reconciliation Hearing.

George Bizos’ love for his homeland of Greece and the simple pleasures of hosting friends at his home and tendering to his garden brought continuously to light the profound impact of his Hellenic upbringing.

The Q&A session with the producer, George Georgiou, co-hosted by Andrew Panna KC, was the perfect complement to the screening and allowed the audience to gain a more profound understanding of the immense effort and commitment it took to encapsulate the life of such an iconic figure within the span of a documentary.

Following the enlightening Q&A session, Leonidas Vlahakis, Festival Chair and Chair of the Greek Community of Melbourne's Cultural Programs Committee, took the stage and expressed his heartfelt gratitude for the insightful discussion. In a touching gesture, he presented both the producer and cohost, Andrew Panna Kc with tokens of appreciation.

The Greek Film Festival is presented in Victoria by the Greek Community of Melbourne playing on the Palace Cinemas group’s screens.

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Bizos photo