Markopoulos Unbound | Bleader

Markopoulos Unbound


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


  • Courtesy the Temenos Archive and the Austrian Film Museum, Vienna.
Tonight at 6 PM the Gene Siskel Film Center's experimental film series, "Conversations at the Edge," will present a rare screening of Eniaios II, the second installment in a 22-film cycle by the Greek-American filmmaker Gregory J. Markopoulos (1928-1992). Once an instructor at the School of the Art Institute, Markopoulos established himself as a key figure in the New American Cinema movement but then left the U.S. in 1967 and eventually withdrew his work from circulation, for the most part allowing it to be screened only on a hillside theater in Lyssaraia, the Greek village where his father had lived before emigrating to Toledo, Ohio. "Alluding to ancient Greek religious traditions, he called the place he had selected for his theater a temenos," wrote the critic P. Adams Sitney in a 2004 review for Artforum, "a sacred precinct, literally a place 'cut off' and dedicated to a divinity, where usually an altar, a temple, and a cult image would be erected."

Markopoulos made some 28 films between 1947 and '67, and in the late 70s he set out to reedit what he felt were his 16 most important works into the "Eniaios" cycle, which would run about 80 hours. Favoring the ones he'd shot in color over those in black-and-white, he dropped the films' original soundtracks and added footage from 65 more films that he'd made in Europe, many of them studies of sacred sites. Sitney called Eniaios II "as astonishing a revelation of cinematic power as anything I had seen over the course of my nearly five decades in active pursuit of extraordinary films."

Amy Beste of "Conversations at the Edge" reports that Eniaios II, which was unavailable for preview as we went to press on Tuesday, will be screened from "a gorgeous 16-millimeter archival print." The program will include a discussion with SAIC professsor Bruce Jenkins and, via Skype, Sitney, a professor of visual arts at Princeton University and author of Visionary Film, the standard history on postwar avant-garde filmmaking in America. On Friday, November 18, at 7 PM, University of Chicago Film Studies Center will present a program of Markopoulos's last U.S. works, including Ming Green (1966), Bliss (1967), Through a Lens Brightly: Mark Turbyfill (1967), and Genius (1970).