Thursday, June 25, 2009

Global Greek Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou on the Parthenon Marbles

One of our Global Greeks, Greek Cypriot and British entrepreneur Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and known for his easyGroup of Companies, this time last year sent out an open letter to all parties concerned in the debate on the Parthenon Sculptures or Parthenon Marbles, as they are more widely known.

The letter was published in many British newspapers calling on the curators of the British Museum and the New Acropolis Museum, to convene and discuss the matter of the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles.

Refusing to get drawn into the question of legal ownership of the Sculptures, Stelios asked the two parties to
engage in a constructive dialogue on the Parthenon Sculptures and their reunification. Stelios’ enterprises have been actively involved in this campaign. EasyGroup has also sponsored a debate which was held by the Cambridge Union Society on the motion of the return of the Parthenon marbles to the New Acropolis Museum. That debate was won by the repatriation supporters.

Stelios, as he likes to be called, headed his open letter as follows:


Open letter from Stelios, Chairman of

To: The British Museum, London, UK

The New Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece

Re: The Parthenon Marbles

June 2008

Dear Sirs,

I've taken the liberty to write this open letter as someone almost uniquely positioned between the Greek and the British cultures, having spent most of my adult life 'flying' between the two capitals. I think the time has come for the curators of the two museums to have a constructive dialogue about the Parthenon marbles.

Away from politics and name calling, I feel there is now a win-win solution for both museums in the form of a cultural exchange. Therefore, art lovers worldwide might get the once in a lifetime chance to see these masterpieces reunited.

This is why I decided to paint 'Reunite the Parthenon marbles' on the side of our latest cruise ship.

Yours faithfully

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou

Bravo Stelio!

We don't know if there was any positive response to the letter, but if we judge from the lack of any tangible results and the continuing refusal of the British Museum Trustees to give an inch, as well as their absence from the Official Opening of the New Acropolis Museum on Saturday, well, it speaks for itself!
We do however applaud the initiative taken by this very Global Greek and hope that more of us take other such initiatives for the benefit of Hellenism and our Global Greek World!

About Stelios

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou – who prefers to be known as Stelios, a Serial Entrepreneur - is best known for creating easyJet in 1995, at the age of 28. In 2000, he floated - on the London Stock Exchange - the low-cost airline that revolutionized European air travel. Nowadays, the company has grown into one of Europe’s leading airlines with some 170 aircraft flying over 400 routes between 103 airports in 26 countries. Approximately 45 million people a year fly with easyJet enjoying more value for less!

Stelios is the son of a very successful Greek shipowner, the late Loucas Haji-Ioannou, who provided the seed capital for Stelios’ independent business career, which started when he created a shipping company - Stelmar - at the age of 25. Subsequently, Stelios floated Stelmar on the New York Stock Exchange in 2001; the company was successfully sold to a rival in 2005, creating significant shareholder value.

Today, Stelios remains the biggest single shareholder of easyJet PLC and a non-executive director. In parallel, before the IPO in 2000 - and true to his beliefs in serial entrepreneurship - he consolidated the ownership of the easy brand into his private company, easyGroup, and launched several easy-branded businesses. The group currently includes easyCar (car rental), easyHotel (budget hotels), easyBus (airport transfers), easyOffice (low-cost, serviced office rental for small businesses), easyPizza and easyCruise - all dedicated to offering more value for less to millions of consumers.

In 2006, at the age of 39, Stelios received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for services to entrepreneurship. Since then, Sir Stelios has expanded his dedication to making a difference to society by launching a number of philanthropic initiatives supporting entrepreneurship, higher education and environmental sustainability.

Stelios has pledged 200 scholarships over 10 years to the London School of Economics and Cass Business School in London - his almae mater - supporting young, exceptional scholars who want to make a difference in their chosen fields. Similarly - in partnership with Leonard Cheshire Disability in the UK - Stelios created the "Disabled Entrepreneur of the Year" award given to exceptional entrepreneurs who have overcome significant physical and perceptual limitations in starting their businesses. (

In Cyprus, the birthplace of his parents, Stelios co-founded CYMEPA in 1992 ( - an association dedicated to preserving the marine environment. In his own birthplace, Greece, he continues his commitment to environmental protection by supporting the Pendeli Reforestation project. Additionally, in Greece, Stelios strives to further inspire entrepreneurship through the Kouros award, a 50,000EU prize given to the outstanding business start-up of the year. Building on his many years of support for the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), Stelios has recently been appointed to the Council of Ambassadors of the WWF-UK.

More likely to be on an aircraft than in an office, Stelios is 42 years old and lives in Monaco.

To read more about Stelios: Click here

To read more about the current International Campaign for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens headed by Alexis Mantheakis :
Click here

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Global Greek Families - Introducing Stavros Flatley , or, Britain's Got Global Greek Talent!

'Dance? Did you say Dance? Come on, my Boy!' quote from Mihali Cacoyiannis' Academy Award winning Zorba the Greek, based on Nikos Kazantzakis' famous novel. Unforgettable music by Mikis Theodorakis.

A few weeks ago, a new Greek Something talented duo appeared on Britain's got talent and took the world by storm with their own very special version of Michael Flatley's Irish dance troupe Riverdance!!

Although they didn’t win Britain’s Got Talent, Greek-Cypriot Britons, wonderful father and son duo, Demetrios Demetriou and 12-year-old Laki, or Lagi, adding a touch of Greek culture to Britain’s Got Talent and performing as Stavros Flatley, wowed everyone, including the judges, with their 'tribute' to Michael Flatley!

With the map of his home country, Cyprus, tattooed across Demetri’s lower chest...and Zorba the Greek's famous quote on his back, he and Lagi put on a great show - they did what centuries of our ancestors have done, they danced! Not only did they dance, they danced so well that they succeeded in getting those very sceptical judges smiling and clapping, surprising them almost as much as Susan Boyle did!

Demetrios and Laki shared an integral part of their (and our) Greek culture with Britain and the rest of the world, and in so doing shared with the world another, much more important characteristic of our culture - the close bond shared by members of the traditional Greek Family!
They told us that they spend a lot of time together and it was obvious to everyone that they have that very special bonding...a bonding which impressed even the judges , with one of them commenting 'You two just have the most fantastic relationship..'

It was the nature of the father-son relationship that also impressed the many viewers who hastened to leave very positive comments on the relevant videos on You Tube...We quote just a few of these:

What can i say FUNNY FUNNY FUNNY!!! What a lovely man, and how much he loves his son, its great!!!

Stavros Flatley made me laugh till I cried. The funniest thing I’ve seen in ages. Good old fashioned entertainment at it's best.

Absolutely hilarious!! My family were laughing their socks off watching these two, what a wonderful father, son bond and so entertaining - can't wait to see what they come up with next - best of luck - we are all cheering you on!!

While Susan elevated my soul THESE GUYS gave me the tonic I needed to get through these depressing times...............Fab

WHAT a refreshing thing to see a Father & Son with such a close bond and all together hilarious.....had me in stitches ;).

Demetrios, who ran a family restaurant in the past, and entertained clients with his performances, told ITV2′ s Britain’s Got More Talent: “Laki was just a baby when I had the restaurant and performed, so he can’t remember it. But we saw the advert for Britain’s Got Talent and he said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if you went on as Stavros Flatley”, and I suggested we do it together.

“I thought the wife would go mad, but she said, ‘Go on, do it!’”

And they did it ...with such success that in the semi-final they got the overall top spot thanks to the public vote and their hilarious Zorba the Greek dance routine. Their backing dancers were family friends and they used to work at their restaurant too.

At the end of their routine, we were all overcome with emotion, as was the crowd, when Demetri told his son ,
“No matter what happens, thanks for asking me to dance with you. I’ve had the time of my life, I swear,”

Even the The Lord of the Dance himself, Michael Flatley, was impressed and spoke to the Daily Mirror, sending his own good luck message to his 'proteges'

“Demetrios and Laki’s family spirit is something that has touched everyone and is to be much admired. Best of luck in the final, Stavros Flatley!”

The close family bond between the two, the way that Laki or Lagi looked up to his father and even the way he protected him, as it were, from the judges' indiscreet comments on his weight were particularly warming.

His answer to one judge's question
How much do you look up to your Dad?
I look up to him so much, he's just a role model for me
was a timely reminder of something that so many of our Greek families have to this day - the way we are brought up, the closeness and continuous support of our families, the intertwining of several generations - grandparents, parents and chidren - helps to create an unbreakable bond which holds the family together, which makes each member secure in the knowledge that no matter what happens in their lives, good or bad, their family will always be there for them.

Our families are the most important things in our lives, they shape our experiences, our thoughts, it is in the context of our families that we grow to become the people we are, and the people we become is usually a reflection of the input that has gone into bringing us up. One of the characteristics which people loved in Nia Vardalos' My Big Fat Greek Wedding, was the close family environment reflected in the movie.

Sometimes this can be oppressive, sometimes over the top and we may even resent it, but in most cases, the knowledge alone, gives you such a nice warm feeling, something like being wrapped in a comfortable security blanket, that in today's troubled times few people could wish for more.

How many of us, whenever we rebelled against this over-protective closeness, got a reality check from some non-Greek friend who marvelled at the way our parents cared about us and showed it? I still remember one of my friends commenting one day at school, when I was busy resenting the fact that our Father was waiting at the corner for us to appear one night, that we were lucky our father cared enough to do it, because hers couldn’t have cared less... a very sobering thought indeed and we never complained again!
We thank Demetri and his son for demonstrating this very precious Greek family bond to the entire world. It doesn't matter that they didn't win the contest! They did something far more important - they won our hearts!

For all of us who have grown up in our wonderful Global Greek Families - we have only one thing to say

Zito i Elliniki Oikogeneia!

Thank You for all the love and care!!!

Global Greece - LAGFF Special Event - Beyond Borders - Greece on the International Film Stage

The Los Angeles Greek Film Festival will present Beyond Borders: Greece on the International Film Stage, a special panel discussion sponsored by Greece's Ministry of Tourism on Saturday, June 27, at the Linwood Dunn Theater. Greece's Minister of Tourism Kostas Markopoulos will attend the event as guest of honor. Panelists include actor Nia Vardalos (MY LIFE IN RUINS), President of Fox International Productions Sanford Panitch, cinematographer/director, Phedon Papamichael (ARCADIA LOST), Director of the Hellenic Film Commission Markos Holevas, Top Cut Founder Stamatis Athanassoulas, to be moderated by producer Terry Dougas (BRIDES).

The panel w
ill discuss recent productions in Greece and how the Greek culture and new infrastructure aided in the telling of their stories. In addition, advantages, challenges as well as future possibilities of foreign film production will be expanded on. "With the recent success of MAMMA MIA! and the recently released MY LIFE IN RUINS, starring Nia Vardalos, the Greek culture is making its way to the mainstream through the art of filmmaking," said Angeliki Giannakopoulos, Festival Co-Founder and Director.

"Greece is experiencing a rise in tourism this su
mmer which is being attributed to the success of last summer's hit MAMMA MIA! Audiences enjoy seeing the images of Greece and the unique personality of the Greek people. The LA Greek Film Festival is delighted to encourage more productions there." MY LIFE IN RUINS director Donald Petrie adds, "Greece was an amazing place to shoot a film from the breathtaking locations, to the warm and welcoming attitude of both the Greek government, and the people."

Over the years, Gree
ce has attracted the interest of various international producers who have taken advantage of the country's old culture, unique light and beautiful landscape. These films include BOY ON A DOLPHIN (1957) starring Sophia Loren and Alan Ladd, THE GUNS OF NAVARONE (1961) with an all-star cast that included Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn and Irene Papas, THE LION OF SPARTA (1962) by Rudolph Maté , ZORBA THE GREEK (1964) with Anthony Quinn and Alan Bates, SUMMER LOVERS (1982) starring Peter Gallagher and Daryl Hannah, BIG BLUE (1988) directed by Luc Besson and starring Jean Reno and Jean Marc-Barr, and the Academy Award-winning Italian film MEDITERRANEO (1992).

Greece is an integral part of the European Union and has a visual wealth of natural landscapes in regions like Thrace, Epirus, Thessaly , the Greek mainland, the Peloponnese , Crete and the picturesque islands in the Aegean and the Ionian seas. Many of these locations are blessed with historical monuments and traditional architecture. There are no large studios in Greece, but the country now offers a modern infrastructure for handling international film productions, experienced crews and service companies.

The Greek Film Centre, which is supervised by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, has supported the production and promotion of Greek films and fosters the participation of Greek producers in foreign productions. Since 2007, within the framework of the organization, the Hellenic Film Commission Office provides an array of services that make filming in Greece one of the most enticing places for production in Europe. MAMA MIA!, MY LIFE IN RUINS, FOREVER THE MOMENT, WANTED DEAD AND ALIVE, and ARCADIA LOST, as well as, several documentaries and TV programs, are some of the projects the organization has recently served.

The Greek Film Centre provides conditional funding for cinema productions in Greece, which are co-produced by Greek producers. The Greek Ministry of Tourism also conditionally supports foreign productions. A VAT (value added tax) rebate system is currently being implemented in Greece. Citizens from EU countries as well as countries with which Greece has signed double-taxation treaties, qualify to enjoy the benefits of these agreements.
Guest of honor Kostas Markopoulos was recently appointed Minister of Tourism, after an active career in politics and in the medical profession as a thoracic surgeon. He is a member of the Greek Parliament's National Defense and Internal Affairs Committee and Permanent Social Issues Committee.

Panelists include:

Nia Vardalos (writer/actor), who made filmmaking history with the success of her independent film
MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING (2002). The movie was nominated for an Academy Award® for best original screenplay. Vardalos' other credits include the television series My Big Fat Greek Life, CONNIE AND CARLA (2004) and the recent release MY LIFE IN RUINS, which was partly filmed in archaeological sites in Greece.

Sanford Panitch, who is currently the President of Fox International Productions, a division of 20th Century Fox that produces and acquires local language films all over the world with strategic focus on markets with rapidly expanding local market share. He previously served as the President of Filmed Entertainment for New Regency Enterprises. He has supervised over 75 feature films such as JUMPER, DAREDEVIL, and the highest grossing movie in New Regency's history MR. AND MRS. SMITH. Prior, Mr. Panitch was Executive Vice President of Production at 20th Century Fox where he worked on the highest grossing movie of all time TITANIC.

Phedon Papamichael, who is a top Hollywood cinematographer and director. He has worked with directors such as Oliver Stone, Wim Wenders, Jon Turteltaub, Alexander Payne, Nick Cassavetes, and Diane Keaton. Some of his cinematography credits include W. (2008), 3:10 TO YUMA (2007), THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS (2006), WALK THE LINE (2005), THE WEATHER MAN (2005), SIDEWAYS (2005), IDENTITY (2003), MOONLIGHT MILE (2002), PATCH ADAMS (1998), MOUSEHUNT (1997), PHENOMENON (1996), and UNSTRUNG HEROES (1995). Papamichael recently completed his fourth feature as a director, ARCADIA LOST (2009), starring Haley Bennett, Nick Nolte and Carter Jenkins, which was filmed entirely in Greece.

We look forward to the results of this panel discussion. There is a wealth of Greek Something talent in the film industry and we believe that this is a great way forward for Greece to showcase it's most exportable product, the breathtaking beauty of our homeland along with it's unparalleled history and culture. Quality films made in Greece for international audiences, let's call them Global Greek films, can only enhance our image abroad, and we greatly look forward to seeing more such films in future. It goes without saying that in order for this to happen, the investor-repellant bureaucracy and the red tape required must be reduced to a minimum - the minimum that is necessary to ensure that all ancient sites are preserved and not exploited harmfully, either physically or commercially!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My Life in Ruins - Greek Something Nia Vardalos Latest Film Hits the Cinemas on June 5th - Don't Miss It!!! (see below for release dates)

"It was a dream come true to shoot in Greece, It was surreal on the set, to stand by the Acropolis, close my eyes before they say 'Action' and feel the wind blowing through the columns. It doesn't get any better."

Nia Vardalos - USA Today

Born Antonia Eugenia Vardalos, the Greek-Canadian-American writer and star who brought us so many laughs with the antics of her family-that-could-have-been-ours in My Big Fat Greek Wedding is about to do it again!

With special permission from the authorities and filmed against a magnificent and unparalleled backdrop - the Acropolis, Olympia , Delphi and other archaelogical sites of Greece, My Life in Ruins Nia's latest movie is 100% pure Greek! The best thing that could happen to Greek tourism after last year's Mamma Mia with Meryl Streep and Piers Brosnan.

Nia, who co-wrote the screenplay and has based part of it on her own experiences, stars as Georgia, a Greek-American who has moved back to Greece and who has lost her 'kefi' or zest for living. Discouraged by her lack of direction in life, she works as a travel guide, leading a group of tourists as she tries to show them the beauty of her native Greece. Just as she has decided that it's not going to work out, the inevitable happens...

Apart from Nia Vardalos, the film stars Academy award winner Richard Dreyfus and Alexis Georgoulis, a Greek actor that she picked out from a magazine and who is perfect in the role of the tour bus driver. (Nia describes him as the George Clooney of Greece in an interview to USA Today. When women on the production team saw his audition tape during a lunch break, "we didn't move, breathe or chew," Nia Vardalos said. "When the scene was finished, everyone jumped up and down and said, 'We've found him!' " )

Greek American Rita Wilson with Richard Dreyfuss in a scene from the movie

Executive producers are Tom Hanks and wife, also Greek-American, Rita Wilson, who has a brief role in the film. This is the fourth time Wilson and her husband have collaborated with Nia. "We don't have a deal with Nia," she says to USA Today. "We just love her. Actually, the script came to us, and it just happened to take place in Greece. We wanted her to rewrite it, and it was just serendipitous."

My Life in Ruins - a hilarious comedy which will leave you with a smile on your face and a let's go-on-holiday feeling - had it's world premiere in Greece in April and has just opened at cinemas all over Greece. It opens in the USA on June 5th!

Don't miss it !!

As Nia says on Twitter
'My Life In Ruins is the small movie vs. 2 biggies. Hey, see all 3. Just please see My Life In Ruins on June 5th. We don't have billboards, we need your mouth!'

Click here to watch Nia speak about the film and other things on Good Morning America just before the American Premiere this week...

Click here to watch Nia and Alexis tell us about the movie...

Click here to watch the official trailer of My Life in Ruins...

Click here to follow Nia on Twitter.

Click here to read more about Nia on Wikipedia.

is heavily involved in the Global Greek Community, promoting and working passionately for causes which are dear to all our hearts. Thanks a million, Nia !!!

She will be at the Gabby Awards on June 19 in Chicago, and
as a member of the Advisory Board, at the 3rd Los Angeles Greek Film Festival being held June 25 to 28, in LA, along with other prominent, and not-so-prominent but equally important, Greek-Americans involved in the movie industry.

Release dates for My Life in Ruins by country...some have already been but we are including them to give the total picture.

France 15 May 2008 (Cannes Film Market)

Germany 6 February 2009 (European Film Market)

USA 3 May 2009 (Tribeca Film Festival)

Greece 28 May 2009

USA 5 June 2009

Australia/ New Zealand 16 July 2009

Bulgaria 7 August 2009

Spain 7 August 2009

Netherlands 27 August 2009

Portugal 27 August 2009

Czech Republic 3 September 2009

Germany 3 September 2009

France 9 September 2009

Good Luck Nia! Kali Epityhia! Καλή Επιτυχία!


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