Echoes of the Past: A film capturing the atrocities of the Kalavryta Massacre

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The Kalavryta Massacre is remembered as one of the darkest moments in Greek history.

That’s why the CEO of Foss Productions and producer, Stelios Cotionis, jumped at the chance to join a team of creatives working on the film Echoes of the Past.

The 2021 fictional drama film is inspired by the Kalavryta Massacre and the atrocities committed by the invading German troops in the Greek town in December 1943. The massacre saw the near-extermination of the town’s male population.

The film follows high-flying lawyer, Caroline Martin, as she visits Kalavryta to investigate after the Greek government launches a claim for war reparations. An unexpected encounter with the last survivor of the tragedy, Nikolaos Andreou, leads them both down a dark chapter of history.

Echoes of the Past.

This year, Australian viewers will be able to watch Echoes of the Past at the Greek Film Festival at Leichardt’s Palace Norton Street Cinema from October 13 – 23. The festival is being presented by the Greek Orthodox Community of NSW (GOCNSW) and the Greek Festival of Sydney.

To find out more, The Greek Herald spoke with Stelios about how the film came about.

Tell us about yourself.

Born and raised in Athens, I am the Lead Producer and CEO of Foss Productions, one of the biggest production companies in Greece. Over the course of my 14-year career in the advertising, film and TV production industry, I had the opportunity to be involved as a producer in several multi-awarded short films including but not limited to Eighth Continent (74th Venice IFF & Rotterdam IFF 2018) and Third Kind (Semaine de la Critique at Cannes 2018, Telluride Film Festival), and a co-producer in multi-awarded films such as Suntan (Rotterdam IFF 2016, SXSW 2016) and Pity (Sundance Film Festival 2018, Rotterdam IFF 2018). Echoes of the Past is one of the latest feature films that I have contributed to as delegate producer and is one of the biggest productions in the history of Greek cinema.

Stelios Cotionis.

How did you get involved in the film?   

Echoes of the Past was brought to my attention by the director of the film, a friend and one of our regular collaborators, Nicholas Dimitropoulos. We at Foss Productions, as a team, decided to hop onboard for such an important cause in an attempt to present the terrible atrocity of the Kalavryta Massacre to the entire world with the appropriate respect and responsibility towards the victims and their descendants.   

With the help and support of Tom and Cia Souleles, the gifted scriptwriter and my co-producer Dimitrios Katsantonis and the talented Dimitropoulos, we managed to produce a movie comparable to foreign productions, that has already managed to be distributed to the US and LATAM and most recently, in the UK. 

The powerful performance of Max von Sydow was crucial to bring the script to life and, along with the exceptional cast, we have achieved a very strong result representing the story in its deepest form, blending emotions with historical facts and drama with passion.

I remember with great gratitude Sydow’s comment after the end of the filming process that “this is (Foss Production) the best crew” he “ever had” and I would like to thank all the people, companies and organisations who made Echoes of the Past possible and believed in our vision and hard work. This was just the beginning of a super promising slate for Foss Productions.

Why do you think it’s important to tell this story?

Even from the ashes, hope is born – this is the key message the film tries to highlight. The search for hope and how humanity can raise hope despite its dark sides. The Kalavryta Massacre will always be remembered as one of the darkest moments in contemporary Greek history and it is crucial to educate the audiences about what has happened in the past to prevent some of those mistakes to repeat in the future.  

How is the history of the massacre reflected in the film?

Echoes of the Past is a powerful historical drama reflecting the clash between both sides of the war, while raising diachronic questions about catharsis and the wound that every human being carries, regardless. Despite the controversy which emerged after the release of the film, I would like to highlight that as Dimitropoulos has stated, we were inspired to “share the tragic story of Kalavryta which remains little-known outside of Greece, to teach audiences about a dark chapter in Europe’s recent past at a time when fascism around the world is on the rise.” 

What’s next for you? 

There is a plethora of promising projects in the making such as Milky Way, the first-ever limited series of the multi-awarded director Vasilis Kekatos; Maestro, a dramatic series of cinematic character and high aesthetics, filmed in the stunning Ionian landscape; The Great Chimera, a television series based on the characteristic novel by M. Karagatsis directed by Denis Iliadis; Arcadia, a feature film directed by the emblematic Yorgos Zois; What Mary didn’t Know, Konstantina Kotzamani’s latest fictional mid-length film; and many more to come.  

Foss Productions, within the framework of the established Film Department, under my supervision, personal involvement, and guidance, has managed to collaborate with top-notch companies and creators, to deliver an eclectic filmography that contains multi-awarded winning films, documentaries and series, such as Echoes of the Past, Third Kind, Broken Sound, Suntan, Pity, All the Fires the Fire, Memoir of a Veering Storm, Enomena and many more.

Foss’ content has been multi-awarded in A-list international film festivals (Cannes: La Semaine De La Critique, Venice, Sundance, Locarno, Rotterdam, Telluride, Clermont-Ferrand) and sold globally through important international hubs, distributors (Strand Releasing, Visit Films, New Europe Film Sales, Salaud Morisset) and broadcasters (Arte, Canal+, Critirion Channel) worldwide.

The Greek Film Festival, presented by the Greek Orthodox Community of NSW and the Greek Festival of Sydney, runs from Thursday, October 13 to Sunday, October 23. Screenings will be at Palace Norton Street, 99 Norton Street, Leichhardt, NSW, 2040.

For more details visit: www.greekfilmfestival.com.au.

READ MORE: The Greek Bar Jacket: Marianna Economou’s documentary takes us behind-the-scenes at Dior.

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