Babis Tsokas is a genial the Greek-Swedish director who has produced and directed or been otherwise involved in hundreds of films but remains virtually unknown among most Greeks. That may change because he has directed a film about one of the most famous Greeks of the twentieth century and he is showing his film around the world.
The film is Our Maria Callas that he worked on for about three years without much financial assistance from anyone but with the help of about 250 volunteers. He is making the film available to every Greek embassy around the world and he just finished a tour of some North American cities that have large Greek populations.
His last stop was Toronto where the film was shown at the Polymenakio Cultural Centre, free of charge. That is how much he charges everyone for showing the film: nothing.
The North American tour (New York, Chicago, Boston, Montreal, and Toronto) was organized by the Pan-Messinian Federation of U.S.A. and Canada with hospitality provided by local communities in each city. One family gave up their beds, Tsokas told us, and slept on the floor in order to provide hospitality for Tsokas and some of the other eight volunteers who travel with him.
The film is a combination of classic documentary with dramatized scenes acted by amateurs. Myrto Kamvisidi plays the role of Maria whose life is covered from her parents’ home in Neochori, Messinia to her death in Paris and her final resting place in the waters of the Aegean where her ashes were dispersed at her request.
The Polymenakio Centre was quite full and even people who are not opera goers were deeply moved by the tragic life of Callas. She had an unhappy childhood with a mother who showed no affection towards her and she had to work to help the family. At the age of 13 she returned to Greece and lived there through the famine and horrors of World War II but emerged as one of the greatest sopranos of the world.