Dinos Katsouridis: Quintessential Cinema

An active filmmaker until the end of his days, Dinos Katsouridis passed away aged 84, taking with him one the most significant chapters in Greek cinema.

Dinos Katsouridis was never a director, a producer or a union leader alone. He was never just one thing. It’s as if he conceived cinema as a series of key positions, something a lot closer to his heart than could never be expressed by a series of job descriptions. It took a lot of pages out of the relatively short history of Greek cinema to explain what it was that he actually did.

Dinos Katsouridis began his career in film in 1951 as an assistant director on “Bitter Bread” by Grigoris Grigoriou, soon after he arrived in Greece. Born in Nicosia, Cyprus, in 1927, he moved to Athens to study medicine and upon completing his degree, he signed up at the newly-founded Stavrakos Film School. For an entire decade, he worked as a still photographer and camera operator in 21 features alongside Alekos Sakellarios, Yorgos Tzavellas and other significant names in the golden age of Finos Films, before he was eventually promoted to director. At the same time, he would get involved in production, editing and cinematography whenever and wherever he could.
Having gained confidence in his own point of view through first-hand experience, Dinos Katsouridis directed his first film “I’m Innocent” in 1960 based on “The Dreyfus Affair” a stage play penned by Manolis Skouloudis. On that same year, he delivered “Murder Backstage”, one of the best film noirs in Greek history, making his presence known at the Thessaloniki Film Festival, with a Best Cinematography (D. Caridis-Fuchs) and a Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Zorz Sarri) Award.

1963 was the year he released “Tis Kakomoiras”, the film that would prove his idiosyncratic talent in comedy and would turn character Zikos, as interpreted by Costas Hajihristos, into a seminal figure in Greek cinema.

Later on, his name was intricately entwined with another funnyman, Thanasis Vengos, who Katsouridis first met while working on “The Dragon by Nikos Koundouros” as assistant editor. In fact, he was so impressed he cast him in 9 feature films between 1970 and 1982. Katsouridis’ best film “What Did You Do During the War Thanasis?” was among them, shot in 1971 during the Greek junta and followed up by “Thanasis Take Your Gun” in 1972. The two films became the ultimate double bill, breaking box office records and saving Vengos from getting typecast for the rest of his life.

Katsouridis’ last work, “Oneiro Aristeris Nichtas” was marked by intense disagreements with co-director, co-screenwriter and leading man Nikos Kalogeropoulos that culminated in a very eventful screening at the Thessaloniki Festival in 1982.

Since then, Katsouridis had been working as an editor (Quiet Days in August, It’s a Long Road), cinematographer (Poisonous Women, Acropole) and union leader, heading the Greek Directors’ Guild as well as holding an honorary position at the Film Directors-Producers Guild of Greece. He had been opposed to the new film law but not the radical change he felt was needed to finally allow Greek Cinema to breathe.

Dinos Katsouridis passed away on Monday morning, November 28th, 2011.