11 June 1921 (
Michael Cacoyannis Foundation
July 25, 2011, Athens, Greece
Central School of Speech and Drama
Panayiotis Loizou Cacoyannis, Aggeliki Cacoyanni
Zorba the Greek, Stella, Electra, Iphigenia, The Trojan Women
Irene Papas, Ellie Lambeti, Anthony Quinn, Alan Bates, Lila Kedrova
IPHIGENIA (by M. Cacoyannis)
Michael Cacoyannis (Greek: Μιχάλης Κακογιάννης, Michalis Kakogiannis; 11 June 1921 – 25 July 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 1921 in Limassol, Cyprus. His father, Sir Panayotis Loizou Cacoyannis, had been knighted in 1936 by the United Kingdom government for public services in Cyprus.
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. 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.
Michael Cacoyannis died on 25 July 2011 in Athens, aged 90.