HAPPY DAY (1976) [Feature]

Greece (MIFF 1977 )
Director: Pantelis Voulgaris

Greek director, Pantelis Voulgaris, who made The Engagement of Anna in 1972, was afterwards imprisoned by the military junta on the island of Makronissos. During the Civil War following the Second World War, the island was used as a prison camp, holding eighty thousand Greeks. Nearly all of them were accused of political crimes, and common criminals were engaged by the military as guards and torturers.

Happy Day unwinds a series of vignettes about life on the island. The prisoners are forced to perform demeaning tasks, such as catching flies. They are engaged in rehearsing a play for the benefit of a visiting official, to create the impression that the prisoners are being gently reformed. When the men are asked to sign an oath of loyalty to the colonels' regime, and are promised to be released if they do so, one man refuses. He is badly beaten, thrown into the sea, is presumed dead, and his family is told that he has committed suicide. But he survives, and is found during the o'/bcial's inspection tour. His presence destroys the myth of 'happy days' on the island, and the Commanding Officer explains to the prisoner that he is officially dead . . .

Director Voulgaris says, he has not aimed for an effect of documentary realism. ‘What I hoped to do, was to find a way of creating my own language, using the light and space of Greece, the roots I have here. The challenge to my generation is to rid ourselves of forces and trends outside Greece.'

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