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Michael Cacoyannis

Michael Cacoyannis
Born Michalis Kakoyiannis
(1921-06-11)11 June 1921
Limassol, Cyprus
Died 25 July 2011(2011-07-25) (aged 90)
Athens, Greece
Other names Michael Yannis
Occupation Film director
Years active 1954–1999
Website Michael Cacoyannis Foundation

Michael Cacoyannis (Greek: Μιχάλης Κακογιάννης, Michalis Kakogiannis; 11 June 1921 – 25 July 2011)[1] was a Cypriot filmmaker, best known for his 1964 film Zorba the Greek. He directed the 1983 Broadway revival of the musical based on the film. Much of his work was rooted in classical texts, especially those of the Greek tragedian Euripides. He was nominated for an Academy Award five times, a record for any Cypriot film artist. He received Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film nominations for Zorba the Greek, and two nominations in the Foreign Language Film category for Electra and Iphigenia.


  • Life 1
  • Death 2
  • Filmography 3
  • Awards and nominations 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Michalis Kakoyiannis was born in 1921 in Limassol, Cyprus. His father, Sir Panayotis Loizou Cacoyannis, had been knighted in 1936 by the United Kingdom government for public services in Cyprus.[2][3]

In 1939, he was sent by his father to London to become a lawyer. He graduated from law school and joined the BBC World Service, soon taking charge of its new Cyprus Service. His deputy was Beba Clerides, sister of the RAF fighter pilot and future President of Cyprus, Glafkos Clerides.[4] However, after producing Greek-language programs for the BBC World Service during World War II,[5] he ended up at the Old Vic school, and enjoyed a brief stage career there under the name Michael Yannis before he began working on films. After having trouble finding a directing job in the British film industry, Cacoyannis moved to Greece, and in 1953 he made his first film, Windfall in Athens.[5]

He was offered the chance to direct Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando in the film Reflections in a Golden Eye, but he declined. Between 1959 and 1967, he was in a relationship with Yael Dayan, a progressive Israeli politician and author.[6] Cacoyannis translated some of Shakespeare's plays Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus and Hamlet into Greek, and Euripides' play The Bacchae into English.


Michael Cacoyannis died on 25 July 2011 in Athens, aged 90.


Awards and nominations

Cannes Film Festival

  • 1954 : Golden Palm for "Windfall in Athens" – nominated
  • 1955 : Golden Palm for "Stella" – nominated
  • 1956 : Golden Palm for "A Girl in Black" – nominated
  • 1957 : Golden Palm for "A Matter of Dignity" – nominated
  • 1961 : Golden Palm for "The Wastrel" – nominated
  • 1962 : Golden Palm for "Elektra" – nominated[8]
  • 1962 : Grand Jury Prize for "Elektra" – won[8]
  • 1962 : Technical Award for "Elektra" – won[8]
  • 1977 : Golden Palm for "Iphigenia" – nominated

Berlin International Film Festival

  • 1960 : Golden Bear for "Our Last Spring" – nominated[9]
  • 1963 : David O. Selznick Award for "Elektra" – won

Academy Award (Oscar)

  • 1963 : Best Foreign Language Film for "Elektra" – nominated[10]
  • 1964 : Best Picture for "Zorba the Greek" – nominated
  • 1964 : Best Director for "Zorba the Greek" – nominated
  • 1964 : Best Adapted Screenplay for "Zorba the Greek" – nominated
  • 1977 : Best Foreign Language Film for "Iphigenia" – nominated[11]

Golden Globe

  • 1956 : Best Foreign Language Film for "Stella" – won
  • 1957 : Best Foreign Language Film for "A Girl in Black" – won
  • 1965 : Best Director for "Zorba the Greek – nominated

British Academy Award (BAFTA)

  • 1966 : Best Film for "Zorba the Greek" – nominated
  • 1966 : UN Award for "Zorba the Greek" – nominated

New York Film Critics

  • 1964 : Best Film for "Zorba the Greek" – nominated
  • 1964 : Best Director for "Zorba the Greek" – nominated
  • 1964 : Best Screenplay for "Zorba the Greek" – nominated

David di Donatello Award

  • 1964 : Special Plaque for "Zorba the Greek" – won

Thessaloniki Film Festival

  • 1960 : Special Contribution Award – won
  • 1961 : Best Director for "Our Last Spring" – won
  • 1962 : Best Film for "Elektra" – won
  • 1962 : Best Director for "Elektra" – won
  • 1977 : Best Film for "Iphigenia" – won
  • 1999 : Union of Film and Television Technicians Award for "The Cherry Orchard" – won

Moscow Film Festival

  • 1956 : Silver Medal for "A Girl in Black" – Won

Edinburgh Film Festival

  • 1954 : Diploma of Merit for "Windfall in Athens" – won
  • 1962 : Diploma of Merit for "Elektra" – won

Montreal World Film Festival

  • 1999 : Special Contribution Award – won

Jerusalem Film Festival

  • 1999 : Lifetime Achievement Award – won

Cairo International Film Festival

  • 2001 : Lifetime Achievement Award – won


  1. ^ Paul Vitello (25 July 2011). "Michael Cacoyannis, Director of 'Zorba the Greek,' Dies at 90".  
  2. ^ National Archives, Colonial Office Honours List, Birthday 1936: List by country of honours and names; Retrieved 13 April 2013
  3. ^ Supplement to London Gazette, 23 June 1936; retrieved 13 April 1936.
  4. ^ Cacoyannis obituary, The Independent, 27 July 2011; accessed 6 December 2014.
  5. ^ a b Erickson, Hal (2006). Allmovie Biography
  6. ^ In conversation with Yael Dayan
  7. ^ Fiche IMBdThe Story of Jacob and Joseph
  8. ^ a b c "Festival de Cannes: Electra". Retrieved 22 February 2009. 
  9. ^ " Awards for Our Last Spring". Retrieved 16 January 2010. 
  10. ^ "The 35th Academy Awards (1963) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 1 November 2011. 
  11. ^ "The 50th Academy Awards (1978) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 16 June 2012. 

External links

  • Mihalis Kakogiannis at the Internet Movie Database
  • Obituary of Michael Cacoyannis, The Daily Telegraph, 25 July, 2011]
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