This is a post from one of Joan’s fantastic Sfakian reports in the Sfakia-Forum ( „Our next destination was Livaniana which hangs below a ridge of the lower Aradena gorge. The newly asphalted lower section of the road is a great improvement, but the long winding drive down the road with no safety barriers is still not for those who suffer from vertigo.

view down to Livaniana.JPG
view down to FInix and Lykos.JPG

A boy and his dog were in charge of the Livaniana cafe (we could hear a woman inside the kitchen), and we spotted a new toilet below the cafe terrace.

Livaniana cafe.JPG

We walked up through the village, past ancient and hollowed out olive trees, and admired the new stone and cement wall lining the extended and widened street which ends at the main church. A newer rough dirt and stone track leads beyond that to the old and new churches that lie on the footpath down into the Aradena gorge.

road to new Livaniana church.JPG

On the way back up we had to pull over carefully to the cliff side of the road to let 3 cars and pass which were loaded with Greek families who were probably on their way down to Finix or Lykos for the Easter holidays.“ Thanks a lot for this, Joan!!!


Renowned Greek film director Iannis Smaragdis’ new film “Kazantzakis” is scheduled for release November 2017. In an event titled “The Greek Light through Nikos Kazantzakis” at the Hellenic Centre of London, on May, 22, at 7.15 pm, Iannis Smaragdis will present the making of his new film. This event is held in the framework of 2017 as the year dedicated to the Cretan writer Nikos Kazantzakis and is supported by the Embassy of Greece in London.

The film, based on Kazantzakis autobiographical novel “Report to Greco”, deals with the fascinating personality of Kazantzakis, one of the most prolific figures in Greek literature whose work boasts many translations worldwide, the Greek landscape that molded him, his philosophical and metaphysic quests. Through his existential search around the world for the implementation of the ideas of Christ, Buddha and Lenin in real life, and through his hero Odysseus, Kazantzakis realizes his philosophy of the Cretan Glance: „Life is a bumpy road and one must walk it with dignity and bravery.“. The life of Nikos Kazantzakis is a story of love, faith and strength of one author who survived the adversities and cruelties of his time, making his life’s work live through the ages.

Born in 1946, in Heraklion, Crete, Iannis Smaragdis, a veteran director of successful TV series, has specialized in historic biographies such as “Cavafy” (1996), “El Greco” (2007), and “God Loves Caviar” (2012).

In an interview published in the latest issue of the Newsletter of the Press and Communication Office of the Embassy of Greece in London*, Smaragdis underlined that he felt he owed this film to the great writer – with whom he shared the same birthplace – in order to express his gratitude for Kazantzakis’ work:

How did you decide to make this movie/tribute to Nikos Kazantzakis?

It seems like I was meant to make a movie about Kazantzakis. The house I was born in is only 300 metres away from where the writer was born and another 300 metres from El Greco’s house. These three spots form a rectangular triangle. I feel it is my debt to this great writer -the most widely read Greek writer worldwide after Homer- with whom I share the same birthplace.


Could you tell us a few words about the plot and any difficulties you may have faced, during the filming?

The filming started in September in our beloved Crete and it has since taken place in Heraklion, Chania, Ayios Nikolaos, and then Athens, Aegina, Salamina, Lavrio, Legraina, Southern France and Berlin. I have to admit that we have experienced an unprecedented war, mainly from the vicious cinematic lobby of Athens, as they intensely tried to boycott the film. Do not forget that Kazantzakis himself also experienced the same war from the literary lobby of Athens and as a result both the author and Greece lost the Nobel Prize in literature!

However, the biggest difficulty we facedwas its funding. During my whole life, I have been a „beggar of love“ looking for money to complete my films, but this time it has been a real pain to find the money it took to make this film. Fortunately, there were good Greeks and good Cretans without whose help this movie would not have been completed. The blessed, generous and great-hearted Cretan AEGEAN’s Theodoros Vassilakis, the great Hertz’s Emmanoula Vassilakis, Leonidas Frangiadakis, Managing Director at the National Bank of Greece, intelligent banker and great Cretan, the Vardinoyannis family with their “Audiovisual”, who supported us strongly, and many others.

When will the film be released?

The long-lasting shooting is over and now the film is in the stage of editing and the music is being composed by the great composer, Minos Matsas. The film will be released in Greece by “Audiovisual” this November, on the 23th. The same company released also our previous work, “El Greco”, which sold the unprecedented record of 1,200,000 tickets.

seasideWhat is different between this movie and your previous ones?

I don’t know… What I do know, however, is that people who ‘create’ do not choose their subjects, but it is the other way round …They choose us… And to put it in another way, Kazantzakis has said: „A demon is inside of me but it is not me. I am just the donkey he rides on and he goes – where does he go? The demon knows, I don’t. He prods me and I walk. Maybe I am a Being of a Master I don’t know but I serve him, whether this is right or wrong!” Personally, I assume that the first reason that prompted me to touch this “giant” is my unlimited love for Nikos Kazantzakis, who has been a comforting “companion” to me since the age of 14. So, the less I could do in order to „show“ him my gratitude “up there” was to create this film.

And a few words about the event here in London – what should we expect?

Firstly, I would like to thank Mrs Leventis and Mrs Agatha Kalisperas who gave us the space to present footage of the film at the Hellenic Center, which is part of the events honouring Nikos Kazantzakis, since this year has been proclaimed by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture as “The Year of Nikos Kazantzakis”.

Other participants in the event will be Niki Stavrou, Director of Kazantzakis Publications, a great woman who is distinguished for her unselfishness and friendliness and a great pillar of the dissemination of Nikos Kazantzakis‘ high-profile work, architect Mr. Yiannis Tziros, Ms Marina Kalogirou, who plays Eleni Kazantzaki in the film, as well as a representative of the General Secretariat of Greeks Abroad of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


At this point, I would like to mention that the event is under the auspices of the Embassy of Greece in London and supported by the Hellenic Tourism Office in the UK and Aegean Airlines.

It will also be an invitation to the distinguished Greek-Cypriot community of London that loves and supports culture, which is necessary in order to keep “Hellenism” alive. I am extremely confident that this film will find great support.

Can you „reveal“ something about your future plans?

The next movie that I will be working on is „Ioannis Kapodistrias“, a film based on the unknown life of a great Greek and the first Governor of the modern era of Greece. The scenario has already being written by Dimitris Pelirakis, a man of unique intelligence, the most thorough ‘connoisseur’ of Kapodistrias’ personality, work and visions. Kapodistrias was killed by ‘Greek hands’, which destroyed also the future of our country. If Kapodistrias had had the chance to organize Greece the way he had envisioned, our country would have been the leading example in education and culture.

* Many thanks to Alexis Georgiades, Press and Communication Counsellor – Embassy of Greece in London


Greek Easter„I had experienced many Easters as a child, then as a youth and an
adult. But none of them equaled the beauty and emotion of that Easter
night in the village in Crete. I felt bound in some irrevocable way to
the villagers. The church, candles, incense, the beloved face of my
uncle and the stern countenance of the young priest, all fused with my
past. I felt, as well, the mystical presence of the night that loomed
around us, sky, earth, and water linking the present to the mythic
At midnight when the lights were extinguished and the church
was hurled into darkness, I waited, trembling with an excitement and
anticipation I had not felt since childhood. Father Joseph emerged
from the sanctuary holding the first candle, its frail light glinting across
his white beard. From that solitary candle other candles were lighted
and flared into flame until several hundred candles gleamed like stars
on the waves of night.
When it came time to express the salutation, ‘’Christos Anesti!”
“Christ is Risen!”
I felt the words bursting from my soul, “Christos Anesti!”
I cried to Barba Leontis. “Alithos Anesti!”
“Truly, He is Risen!” his hoarse voice cried in
response. When we emerged from the
church at the end of the liturgy, the night glittered with numerous fires
as villagers in surrounding mountain villages burned great bonfires
engulfing effigies of Judas. The night also cracked and echoed with
the thunder of hundreds of guns being fired in celebration.
We ascended the steps toward the upper village, Antonia and
the girls holding their flickering candles. In the house we sat down
to the festive Easter dinner that concluded the forty days of fasting.“
(Harry Mark Petrakis)

Für mich ist der kretische Koloss Nikos Kazantzakis einer der besten Schriftsteller, die ich kenne; vor allem sein genialer ‚Alexis Sorbas‘ und seine Autobiographie ‚Rechenschaft vor El Greco‘ haben mich zutiefst beeindruckt. Karl Kerényi hat ihn den ‚griechischen Nietzsche‘ genannt, der zeitlebens gegen die Unvereinbarkeit von Fleisch und Geist gekämpft hat, indem er versucht hat, sowohl Fleisch als auch Geist bestmöglich auszubilden. Er ist davon überzeugt gewesen, dass nur ein starker Geist einen kräftigen Körper und umgekehrt hervorbringen und man somit beide Seiten harmonisch vereinen kann. Genau das verkörpert sein Alexis Sorbas: nicht unglücklich zerrissen und gespalten, sondern freudig bejahend und glücklich in sich vereint.

Mittlerweile sind die Entzugserscheinungen nach dem letzten Kretaurlaub im September 2009 schon ziemlich groß. Leider fallen in diesem Jahr das griechische und deutsche Osterfest zusammen, d.h. es gibt kaum Hoffnung, wegen der Osterferien in Deutschland billige Kretaflüge zu bekommen. Schöner Mist! So werde ich wahrscheinlich bis zum 23. Mai warten müssen, um endlich wieder meine zweite Heimat betreten zu können. Trotzdem bleibe ich nach wie vor optimistisch, doch noch Ostern bei meinen kretischen Freunden sein zu können!!! (Unfortunately Greek and German Eastern are on the same date this year, that means there aren’t any cheap flights to Crete because of the Eastern holidays in Germany. So I have to wait for the 23rd May to set a food on my second home. But anyway I don’t give up hope!!!)

Mittlerweile auch Kretaflüge für September gebucht, und zwar vom 4.-27.9. für 200€ pro Person von Düsseldorf. Wunderbar!!! (Crete flights for September from 4 to 27)

Leider sind mir nur Anrufe nach Kreta zum Osterfest geblieben; mehr ist dieses Jahr nicht drin gewesen. (Unfortunately I could only call my friends on Eastern.)

Hoffentlich meint es der isländische Vulkan gut mit uns und wir können am 23. Mai nach Kreta abheben??? Außerdem ist für den 20. ein neuer Generalstreik angekündigt! Dennoch tierische Vorfreude!!! – Bis jetzt siehts gut aus! Die Insel ruft: Ela-ela-ela!!! Komm-komm-komm!!!

Es hat alles bestens geklappt. Toller Urlaub!!! Die ersten sechs Tage bei Yorgos und seiner Familie im ‚To Akrogiali‘ am Likos Beach verbracht, danach das Wochenende in Agios Pavlos und zum Schluss im ‚Notos‘ bei Yiannis in Triopetra.

Zweiter Kretaurlaub vom 4.-27.9. Der Kurzdurchlauf: Toller Beginn bei Adoni in Magarakari. Eine Woche bei Yiorgos und seiner Familie. Eine Woche im ‚Notos‘ von Yiannis in Triopetra. Die letzten Tage im ‚Adrakos‘ von Kostas in Elounda, wo wir Pam und Tia wiedergetroffen und Anna ihre Tochter Leonie bekommen hat.

Wenigstens in kurzen Zügen möchte ich den Kretaurlaub vom 30.8.-21.9. 09 hier festhalten. Zuerst eine perfekte Woche mit Pam, Tia, Sophia, Daphne, Anna und den Kindern in Agios Pavlos, danach noch ein tolles gemeinsames Wochenende im ‚Adrakos‘ in Elounda. In Ag.Pavlos viele Bekannte wiedergetroffen: Cliff, Rachel, Elya, Maria und Stavros, dazu Dimitris Knieverletzung, Adonis Teilnahme bei der griechischen Version von ‚Bauer sucht Frau‘ (siehe Extrapost). Beim Sonnenuntergang sitzend den Absturz eines Paragliders mit Zusatzpropeller verfolgt, glücklicherweise mit glücklichem Ausgang!!! Frühmorgens um sechs Verabredung mit Adonis, Sakis und zwei Mädels zum Arbeitseinsatz in Adonis Weinfeldern; gegen elf rustikales Frühstück vorort, danach Fototerminbei den neugebohrenen Lämmchen, danach Mittagessen bei Adonis Oma. Das steht in keinem Reiseführer!!! Einfach unvergesslich!!! Freitags Aufbruch mit der ganzen Gang nach Elounda, unterwegs Shopping im Kinderparadies ‚Jumbo‘. Samstags gemeinsames Abendessen mit Pam bei Manolis, dabei ein wichtiges klärendes Gespräch mit Pam bezüglich Tia gehabt. Sonntags gemeinsam im ‚Adrakos‘ meinen Geburtstag gefeiert, dabei viele tolle Bilder geschossen. Montags zurück nach Agios Pavlos, wo wir die anderen (Günter, Petra, Stavros, Sille) wiedergetroffen haben. Leider passt es nicht mehr zwischen uns. Deshalb schon donnerstags der Aufbruch nach Yorgos, und zwar bei strömendem Regen, eigentlich viel zu früh für diese Zeit. Dort ein herzlicher Empfang von unseren Freunden, die mittlerweile eine Inernetpräsenz haben (siehe Extrapost ‚Likos…‘). Tagsdrauf Wiedersehen mit Thomas und Ines, mit denen wir den Resturlaub verbringen werden. Wunderbares Gefühl!!! Am 13.9. Namenstagsfeier von Stavros an der gleichnamigen Kirche zwischen Hora Sfakia und Loutro zusammen mit Pavlos, Despina und Thomas. Das Neuste aus Livaniana: Tilman ist Großvater geworden und jetzt auf den Hund (Murat) gekommen. Am 16.9. Abreisetag von Likos in Richtung Triopetra, wo wir zum ersten Mal im ‚Notos‘ ( bei Yannis einkehren. Diese tollen Studios sind eine wunderbare Alternative zum ‚Agios Pavlos Hotel‘ und toller Abschluss dieses Urlaubs.