53’(25 fps)



Nikos Perakis
Nikos Perakis
POLIS poster

POLIS is the first and last documentary I shot and it was not even my idea but came from Patrick Hörl and Bavarian Television, which had planned a series of 26 films under the title "Schauplätze der Weltkulturen", in free translation «Sites – or Theatres – of the World’s Cultures». The originality of the venture, which would make it different from dozens of other travel or archaeological series was the use of native writers and directors who would shoot very personal films about the culture of their city or homeland. The editorial executive had already secured the co-operation of a German-Japanese lady director for Kyoto (and the Culture of Zen), an Egyptian director for Egypt (and the Nile Valley) and a Mexican director for Teotihuacan (City of Gods). In addition to this novelty the films would be shot on 35 mm negative film, so that the final image would have the high resolution necessary for the then new HD screens. Therefore I'd have to shoot with the new ARRI 535B camera that digitally encoded the negative for transfer – without cutting it - to video.

I liked the idea and had no other proposals, except commercials. Greek movies were sinking in the cinemas while home video had become the joy of the whole family, and I wanted to be in Athens for my own more serious reasons. Instead of the treatment I was asked to write, I went to Athens and wrote directly a very detailed script with texts and photos of locations and persons I would have in the movie, because a treatment allows a lot of discussion and since I would be the first to shoot I was afraid of becoming the "pilot" of the series. The executive editor of the channel read and approved it positively with no remarks, while my attached budget needed a lot of negotiation and cuts. Finally I signed 30 pages of contracts for script, direction, production, and a budget of 27 pages, and returned to Athens. The inadequate financing was handled with the help of STEFI Film, who provided a package of personnel and equipment services at cost. When I sent the first edited version to Munich, my principals discovered that I had included no reference to the Socratic dialectic and I realised that the specification that the series be the subjective viewpoints of the indigenous makers had been sacrificed to the needs of the TV market and the average viewer, who German humanism wants believing that Socrates swallowed the hemlock out of excessive democratic sensibility. Fortunately, my supervising editors compromised on an additional scene, of a homeless post-Socratic who descends with his student into the deep construction pit for the University Metro station to teach him Socratic dialectic and the Platonic allegory of the cave. The rest of the cultural sites in the series were shot by the native authors and directors of the Bavarian Television.


The documentary POLIS has no other plot than the passing of a day in the city. I believed in the initial concept of the series and tried to shoot a tour on locations where the Athenian democracy functioned and meetings with interesting people persons in more or less interesting sights I would show to a foreign friend. The day begins with a flying lady reporter who gives drivers information on the morning traffic and ends with fanfares and bombastic epilogue of the "Sound and light" spectacle on the hill of Pnyx.


GUESTS (in order of appearance)

Iro Kariofylli
Manolis Korres
Yiannis Arbilias
Jules Dassin
Dionysis Photopoulos
Stavros Toufexis
Tapa Sountana
Katia Gerou
Giorgos Kotanidis
Anna Mandylara
Elisabeth Ascoli
Christiana Luke
William Stead
Olga Zachariadou
Avgi Proulaki
Manolis Rasoulis
Dionysis Efthimiopoulos
Dionysis Savopoulos


Nikos Perakis
editor-in-chief Bayerischer Rundfunk
Patrick Hörl
executive producer BR
Walter Flemmer
director of photography
Takis Zervoulakos
Giorgos Mavropsaridis
Nikos Mamangakis
production managers
Fotis Thomas, Apostolis Ioannidis
assistant directors
Nikos Skoulidas, Sabine Moser, Joanna Kalistratou
Giorgos Panousopoulos, Yiannis Valeras, Joanna Skyftou
assistant director photography
Stefanos Efthymiadis
camera assistants
Dionysis Efthymiopoulos, Spyros Papatriantafyllou, Christos Karamanis, Michalis Zorgias
Platon Andronidis, Marialena Xanthou
Kostas Kagioulis, Panos Kourkoutis
lighting electricians
Yiannis Sotiriou, Christos Karamanis, Stavros Pietroutsakos, Yiannis Chatzioannou, Thanasis Tsegas
art director
Vanessa Zouganeli
sound engineers
Nikos Barouxis, Marinos Athanasopoulos, George Kidson
sound mixer
Sigbert Stark
Katharina Hensel
head post production
Roland Weese
production secretary
Lili Triantafyllou
production assistant
Christoforos Bouras
Giorgos Vakaliarelis
negative processing
production services
STEFI,Cine&TV Productions Athens


Nikos Perakis Filmproduktion München
for Bayerischer Rundfunk München



duration 53’(25 fps)
EASTMAN Color 35mm
Dolby Surround



As soon I finish uploading the site materials, I’ll see to the English subtitling, e.g., for the Allegory of the Cave. For the moment, and for those who don’t speak ancient Greek, I quote a free translation.

The voice over I wrote for the German narration says: In the Herodes Atticus theatre, Katia Gerou attempts to recite a choral song from Sophokles' "Antigone" in ancient Greek. And while Greek philologists are still arguing about the probable pronunciation, famous poets like Hölderlin did wonderful translations.



Τhen when I was preparing to shoot POLIS I had problems with the definition of documentary, and now again, as I just saw a dozen nominated for the Greek Film Academy Awards. Fortunately the genre includes docu-fiction or docu-drama and not all of them resemble television reports and research.

This time as well, but for purely organizational and time economy reasons I did my scribbles, especially for some vast or archaeological sites.