Michael Cacoyannis, the Cyprus born-filmmaker who directed Anthony Quinn in the 1964 Oscar-nominated film, Zorba the Greek, died of complications from a heart attack and chronic respiratory problems on Monday at an Athens hospital, according to the Associated Press. He was 89.
After studying law in London and working for the BBC, Cacoyannis made his debut as a director with Windfall in Athens (1954). Two years later, he won a Golden Globe for best foreign language film for Stella, starring Melina Mercouri. His greatest hit would be Zorba, based on Nikos Kazantzakis’ novel and starring Anthony Quinn. Cacoyannis earned three Oscar nominations – for Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture – and the film won three trophies, including one for Best Supporting Actress (Lila Kedrova). His final film was The Cherry Orchard (1999), which starred Charlotte Rampling, Alan Bates, and a young Gerard Butler.
“His movies received awards at the most important film festivals in the world,” Greece’s culture minister Pavlos Geroulanos said. “His work became the vehicle that took Greek culture to every corner of the earth, and served as a source of inspiration for Greek and foreign artists.”