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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 24 October 2015
NEWS 10 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 24 OCTOBER 2015 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM After the premiere with family, crew and Greece’s Consul General of Greece for SA Mr Andreas Gouras. A hero in every family Nicolaos Demourtzidis’ loving tribute to his grandfather is a movie we should all see THEODORA MAIOS "My pappou will always be my biggest hero," says Nicolaos Demourtzidis, whose documentary Istoria encourages us all to look deeper into the eyes of those who struggle with Alzheimer's disease. The Adelaide producer is not a typical 30-year-old. With his Greek heritage truly embedded and inspired by his late pappou Elias, Nicolaos has created a feature-length film about how Elias and his family were impacted by Alzheimer's. Compelled by Elias’ suffering from the disease, Nicolaos journeyed back to Greece with him to delve into his earlier life, and particularly Elias' experience of the civil war. "My pappou was my best friend until the day he left us. He was a big storyteller and a very wise man," Nicolaos tells Neos Kosmos. Elias migrated to Australia in his early thirties after losing both parents to tragic deaths during the war. Like most Greek migrants of his generation, Elias worked hard and achieved success both personally and professionally. For his family though, Elias was more than that. He was the man who was holding the answer to all the family's wonders. "I still remember being a little boy and jumping excitedly on my bike just to go meet pappou and fall in love with his stories." As the years passed, Nicolaos saw a noticeable change in Elia's behaviour and mental clarity. Seven years ago, Elias was diagnosed with dementia. Watching the disease taking over, Nicolaos felt the need to learn and share his family history. "It took a lot of courage to share my family's story,” says Nicolaos. "But I am a big believer that Istoria’s producers: Brad Halstead (cinematographer), Nicolaos Demoutzidis (producer), Peter Demourtzidis (executive producer) with Athena Demourtzidis, and David Ockenden (director). you should do good, when you can, and in my heart I feel that this is a good thing." Holding on to his pappou's soul while his mind and body was dying, Nicolaos, who studied cinematography, decided to take him back to where it all started. "Against all the odds and doctors' advice not to travel, when I suggested a trip to Greece, my pappou said 'Πάμε τώρα' (‘let's go now’)." Filmed in South Australia as well as the Florina village of Pelargos where Elias came from, the three-man crew was made up of David Ockenden (director/producer), Brad Halstead (director of photography) and Nick Demourtzidis (executive producer). "It wasn't easy to film in Greece due to Elias’ condition, but I felt that this is where my pappou needed to be in order to put to rest the emotions and have closure," says Nicolaos, who admits that after that last trip to Greece there was no further mention of going back home again. "We never told pappou about his disease," says Nicolaos. "It gradually came to a stage An eager audience lines up for the premiere of Istoria at East End Cinema, Adelaide, earlier this month. where we literally 'lost' him. The way I look at it is that I was extremely blessed to meet my pappou through all the stages of his life; as an adult, and as a happy child." The premiere of Istoria was held in Adelaide on 11 October at Palace Nova East End Cinemas. Reaction to the film was profound, with 750 people walking from the theatre with eyes full of tears and gracious smiles. "There are moments in life where we walk between the realm of reality and dreaming. This is where I was for the premiere," says Nicolaos, who hopes that people will walk away from the film carrying the message of remembering their ancestors and upholding what they went through. "Forty hours of raw footage of my pappou is not enough but all I hope for is that through Istoria, I can take people on an emotional journey and inspire the youth to get closer to their grandparents. There is a hero in every family. Just ask." Nicolaos is working closely with Alzheimer's Australia, which plans to screen Istoria in Melbourne and Sydney in the next few months.
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