Oscar Directors: Cacoyannis, Michael–Background, Career, Awards, Filmography

August 22, 2020

Michael Cacoyannis Career Summary:

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First Film:

First Oscar Nomination:

Other Nominations:

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Last Film:


Career Output:

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Michael Cacoyannis (Michalis Kakogiannis; June 11, 1922 – July 25, 2011) was a Greek Cypriot filmmaker, best known for his 1964 film Zorba the Greek. He directed the 1983 Broadway revival of the musical based on the film. Much of his work was rooted in classical texts, especially those of the Greek tragedian Euripides. He was nominated for an Academy Award five times, a record for any Cypriot film artist. He received Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film nominations for Zorba the Greek, and two nominations in the Foreign Language Film category for Electra and Iphigenia.

Cacoyannis was born in 1922 in Limassol, Cyprus. His father, Sir Panayotis Loizou Cacoyannis, had been knighted in 1936 by the United Kingdom government for public services in Cyprus. His sister was the politician Stella Soulioti.

In 1939, he was sent by his father to London to become a lawyer. He graduated from law school and joined the BBC World Service, soon taking charge of its new Cyprus Service. His deputy was Beba Clerides, sister of the RAF fighter pilot and future President of Cyprus, Glafkos Clerides. However, after producing Greek-language programs for the BBC World Service during World War II, he ended up at the Old Vic school, and enjoyed a brief stage career there under the name Michael Yannis before he began working on films. After having trouble finding a directing job in the British film industry, Cacoyannis moved to Greece, and in 1953 he made his first film, Windfall in Athens.

He was offered the chance to direct Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando in the film Reflections in a Golden Eye, but he declined.[citation needed] Between 1959 and 1967, he was in a relationship with Yael Dayan, a progressive Israeli politician and author. Cacoyannis translated some of Shakespeare’s plays Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus and Hamlet into Greek, and Euripides’ play The Bacchae into English.

Cacoyannis died on 25 July 2011 in Athens, aged 89.

Awards and nominations
Cannes Film Festival

1954 : Golden Palm for “Windfall in Athens” – nominated
1955 : Golden Palm for “Stella” – nominated
1956 : Golden Palm for “A Girl in Black” – nominated
1957 : Golden Palm for “A Matter of Dignity” – nominated
1961 : Golden Palm for “The Wastrel” – nominated
1962 : Golden Palm for “Elektra” – nominated
1962 : Grand Jury Prize for “Elektra” – won
1962 : Technical Award for “Elektra” – won
1977 : Golden Palm for “Iphigenia” – nominated
Berlin International Film Festival

1960 : Golden Bear for “Our Last Spring” – nominated
1963 : David O. Selznick Award for “Elektra” – won
Academy Award (Oscar)

1963 : Best Foreign Language Film for “Elektra” – nominated
1964 : Best Picture for “Zorba the Greek” – nominated
1964 : Best Director for “Zorba the Greek” – nominated
1964 : Best Adapted Screenplay for “Zorba the Greek” – nominated
1977 : Best Foreign Language Film for “Iphigenia” – nominated
Golden Globe

1956 : Best Foreign Language Film for “Stella” – won
1957 : Best Foreign Language Film for “A Girl in Black” – won
1965 : Best Director for “Zorba the Greek – nominated
British Academy Award (BAFTA)

1966 : Best Film for “Zorba the Greek” – nominated
1966 : UN Award for “Zorba the Greek” – nominated
New York Film Critics

1964 : Best Film for “Zorba the Greek” – nominated
1964 : Best Director for “Zorba the Greek” – nominated
1964 : Best Screenplay for “Zorba the Greek” – nominated
David di Donatello Award

1964 : Special Plaque for “Zorba the Greek” – won
Thessaloniki Film Festival

1960 : Special Contribution Award – won
1961 : Best Director for “Our Last Spring” – won
1962 : Best Film for “Elektra” – won
1962 : Best Director for “Elektra” – won
1977 : Best Film for “Iphigenia” – won
1999 : Union of Film and Television Technicians Award for “The Cherry Orchard” – won
Moscow Film Festival

1956 : Silver Medal for “A Girl in Black” – Won
Edinburgh Film Festival

1954 : Diploma of Merit for “Windfall in Athens” – won
1962 : Diploma of Merit for “Elektra” – won
Montreal World Film Festival

1999 : Special Contribution Award – won
Jerusalem Film Festival

1999 : Lifetime Achievement Award – won
Cairo International Film Festival

2001 : Lifetime Achievement Award – won

The Cherry Orchard (1999): director, screenwriter, producer
Up, Down and Sideways (Pano kato ke plagios) (1993): director, screenwriter, producer
Sweet Country (Glykeia patrida) (1986): director, screenwriter, producer
Iphigenia (1977): director, screenwriter
Attilas ’74 (1975): director, producer
The Story of Jacob and Joseph, director
The Trojan Women (1971): director, screenwriter, producer
The Day the Fish Came Out (Otan ta psaria vgikan sti steria) (1967): director, screenwriter, producer
Zorba the Greek (Alexis Zorbas) (1964): director, screenwriter, producer
Electra (1962): director, screenwriter, producer
The Wastrel (Il Relitto) (1961): director, screenwriter
Eroica (Our Last Spring) (1960): director, screenwriter, producer
A Matter of Dignity (To telefteo psemma) (1957): director, screenwriter, producer
A Girl in Black (To koritsi me ta mavra) (1956): director, screenwriter
Stella (1955): director, screenwriter, producer
Windfall in Athens (Kyriakatiko xypnima) (1954): director, screenwrite