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Je me souviens: Eipides by Chamberlan

Former Thessaloniki director Dimitri Eipides dies aged 82

DIMITRI EIPIDES

JE ME SOUVIENS DIMITRI - LE PLAISIR DE DÉCOUVRIR BRINGING TOGETHER THE KNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN

85a4afc5-080d-4c74-a89b-575186f7ac03.png

BY CLAUDE CHAMBERLAN

Photo credits Pierre St-Arnault, Jacques Dufresne, Bed-in with John Lennon, Dimitri Eipides and Claude Chamberlan Montréal 1969: Photo by Yvan Drapeau

After a rock & roll wrap-up with our band « Les Soeurs de l’Opéra » at the beatnik Café Prag, I got an invitation by two Dimitri’s (Eipides & Spentzos) to a underground party at a loft in the east end of Montreal, to celebrate the opening of a cinema fully dedicated to independent, avant-garde films from all over the world.

Le CENTRE DU FILM UNDERGROUND was created in 1967 -, three years later it was renamed Le CINÉMA PARALLÈLE.

 

Dimitri EIPIDES was a film student fresh out of the London School of Film Technics and worked at the film dept of New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Dimitris SPENTZOS, a vagabond anarchist, was the black sheep of a well-known Greek family related to cinemas in Athens. Spentzos made a lot of wake-up calls about the art for a lively cinema. He left us six months later and went on travelling.

 

I was just a minute over seventeen when the other Dimitri showed and shared films that inspired me and so many others throughout the world. He then offered me the beautiful job of projectionist, for meaningful & débonnaire films.

Through him, I’ve met a joyful mix of Amazing Crazy people, poets, musicians, painters, filmmakers, you name it!

In that loft at 1921 rue Bordeaux, there was a Speakers Corner (like in London) where anyone could speak their heart out,  there was the Kuchar brothers, Judith Gault, Leonard Cohen, Baron Philippe, Jean Basile (Pénélope), Henri Barras, the FLQ (Front de Libération du Québec), Ginette Letondal, Luce Guilbeault, Joyce Wieland, Michael Snow, David Rimmer, Al Razutis, Emmanuel Cocke, several Québec and Canadian Underground filmmakers...and of course screenings, intense discussions and wild wild parties.

 

Then, in our travels to New York & Europe Dimitri introduced me to Jonas Mekas, Jack Smith, the Andy Warhol’s Factory, the Millenium, Marie Menken, friends of Maya Deren, Filmmakers Coop in NY, Kenneth Anger, Susan Sontag, Allen Ginsberg, Will Hindle, The Ridiculous Theatre co., Zacharias Kunuk, Ron Rice, Anthology Film Archives, Viva, Henri Langlois, Jacques Ledoux, Pierre Clémenti, Frans Zwartjes, Marceline Loridan, Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, Abbas Kiorastami, Nikos Patatakis, Nam Juke Paik, Werner Schroeter, Marguerite Duras, Alexander Sokourov, Bela Tarr, Steve Dwoskin, Jean-Marie Straub & Daniele Huillet, Pedro Costa, Chantal Akerman, Atom Egoyan, Peter Greenaway, Jacques Rivette, François Girard, JLGodard, Théo Angelopoulos, Lars Von Trier, Jane Campion, Michael Haneke, Carmelo Bene, Spike Lee, Shirley Clarke, John Cassavetes, Jim Jarmusch, Robert Frank, Djibril Mambéty....Mon Dieu!

So many more and so nourishing for the mind & soul!

 

We formed a fantastic duo creating different of ways to discover & promote at best, the world and the free spirit of independent cinema and video.

 

Following the Cinéma Parallèle, we went on a string of activities and created:

*Two film & video distribution companies, Coopérative des Cinéastes Indépendants, later became FilmFilm (800 titles) - 1969-1992

*MiniFestivals 1 and 2, Canadian & Québec independent short films tour of 27 European cities - 1969-74

*A John Lennon & Yoko Ono retrospective in support for our movie theatre and a musical session where Dimitri and I sang with them Give Peace A Chance at their Bed-In in Montreal, with Jonas Mekas, Timothy Leary and Petula Clark - 1969

*The Festival International du Cinéma en 16mm, later became, after 3 name changes, Le Festival du Nouveau Cinéma de Montréal, dedicated to independent cinema since 50 years.The oldest (remained the youngest) international film festival in Canada -1971-

*Hundreds of retrospectives and tributes to filmmakers, technicians, photographers, writers, actors, producers, distributors, to cities and countries:

Italy, Iran, China, South America, Japan, United States, Portugal, Greece, England, Belgium, Sarajevo, Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Iceland and France.- 1974-2016

*The longest film screening of all time & The most enduring spectator..

In celebration of 100 YEARS OF CINEMA

Two Guinness World records. 250 hours of films non-stop, 136 features that marked the history of cinema and a Plea to preserve these films on digital support. - 1992

 

Of course we had hard times, fighting on and on to finance our film projects.

Dimitri invested all his salary as a film teacher at McGill University and I was selling pot and magic mushrooms to a very happy clientele.

And we had to show, more than once, Underground Erotica Films to survive.

I must say that these erotic programs attracted every time a full audience.

 

At one point, we ate only eggs for four months, believe me!

But Dimitri was also a wonderful cook for anything you can think of.

I especially like his Garlic Poulet à-la-King and his somptuous moussaka - a real treat!

 

The main goal in All this adventure was to be able to present to our public in Québec the most audacious and inspiring films in today’s cinema.

For that and so much more  We & I owe it to him, le beau Grec!

 

Merci pour toutes ces tendresses Dimitri..Hasta luego!

 

Claude Chamberlan

Ami de Dimitri & CoFondateur

FESTIVAL DU NOUVEAU CINÉMA DE MONTRÉAL

Baracoa/Cuba, February 28, 2021

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