Internationally acclaimed film director, screenwriter and producer Michael Cacoyannis died in and Athens hospital in the early morning hours on Monday at the age of 89.
The director of the award-winning film 'Zorba the Greek' and 'Stella', Michael (Michalis) Cacoyannis was born in Limassol, Cyprus, and was sent by his father to London in 1939 to become a lawyer, but after producing Greek-language programmes for BBC World Service during WWII he developed an interest in film instead, ending up at the Old Vic school and enjoying a brief stage career as "Michael Yannis", before beginning to work on films.
Having trouble finding a directing job in the British film industry, Cacoyannis moved to Greece and in 1953 made his first film "Windfall in Athens".

He is best known for his 1964 film 'Zorba the Greek', and in 1983 directed a Broadway revival of the musical based on Zorba.

Most of his work is rooted in classical texts, particularly those of the Greek tragedian Euripides. He was nominated five times for an Academy Award (Oscar), receiving the 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'.

Cacoyannis worked on many occasions with renowned Greek actress Irene Papas, teaming up with her in 1971 for the film 'The Trojan Women' starring Hollywood legend Katharine Hepburn, and was a close friend of Darryl F. Zanuck and George Cukor.

A pioneer of post-war Greek cinema and director of international hits, Cacoyannis refused a career in Hollywood, opting for quality theater. He also founded the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation for the study and support of the film and theater arts.

He died early Monday at Evangelismos Hospital in central Athens, where he had been hospitalised for 10 days.

Cacoyannis funeral on Thursday; political reactions

The funeral of internationally acclaimed film director, screen writer and producer Michael Cacoyannis will be held at public expense on Thursday, with a service at the Church of St. Dionysus Areopagite at 4:00 p.m.
His remains are to be buried in the courtyard of the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation bearing his name, in accordance with his wishes.
Cacoyannis set up the foundation at the end of 2003, wishing to create a cultural body having modern means and innovative ideas in order to support the arts, especially film and theatre. Having achieved its first target, which was to build an arts centre, the foundation now intends to offer scholarships to talented young people and thus broaden the artistic potential of the country.
Cacoyannis, director of the award-winning films 'Zorba the Greek' and 'Stella', died in an Athens hospital in the early morning hours on Monday at the age of 89.
He died early Monday at Evangelismos Hospital in central Athens, where he had been hospitalised for 10 days.
The news of his death was met with messages of condolence and grief from most of Greece's state and political leadership.
President Karolos Papoulias stressed that he was an artist that inspired and a man that moved others.
"In the case of Michael Cacoyannis, life and art were not separate. Michael Cacoyannis was deeply politicised and his entire career had strong social references," Papoulias said, noting that the director had never once hesitated to clash with establishment in order to promote his ideas and his vision.
Parliament President Philippos Petsalnikos spoke of a "great Greek, citizen of the world, whose film work promoted Greece and Hellenism to all ends of the earth".
According to Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos, Cacoyannis had helped "enrich domestic and global film and theatre" with his talent, serving both with an "primary passion, devotion and integrity over an entire lifetime".
The main opposition New Democracy party highlighted his position as "one of the unique artists of modern Greece that honoured and promoted our country abroad, without any political or state support".
According to the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), meanwhile, his work was "inseparably linked to life, through a deep social realism" and the issues it addressed those of ordinary people.
Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras described Cacoyannis as a "many-talented worker of culture" that helped bring Greece acclaim on an international level.
Announcements concerning the film director's death were also made by the Democratic Left, Democratic Alliance and Ecologists-Greens parties, as well as Athens Mayor George Kaminis.

PM, ND leader on Michael Cacoyannis' death

Prime Minister George Papandreou and main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras issued statements on the passing away of Cypriot born Greek director Michael Cacoyannis.
"People like Michael Cacoyannis remind us of the creativity and determination of Hellenism, its ability to wage victorious battles in every part of the globe and always come out stronger," Papandreou noted in his statement, adding that Cacoyannis' "life and work which was internationally recognised, constitute a luminous example in our course."
On his part the main opposition leader termed Michael Caco-yannis "a proud Greek", "a pioneer of Greek cinema" who acted as "a herald of Hellenism all over the world."
Cacoyannis, director of the award-winning films 'Zorba the Greek' and 'Stella', died in an Athens hospital in the early morning hours on Monday at the age of 89.