Dir: Elia Kazan
Scr: Elia Kazan
Pho: Haskell Wexler
Ed: Dede Allen
Music: Manos Hadjidakis
Prod Co: Warner Bros. Pictures
Cast: Stathis Giallelis, Frank Wolff, Harry Davis, Gregory Rozakis
1963 / B/W / 35mm / English / 168min*
* Amendment: Please note that the duration of this film is 168 minutes
In what is easily his most personal film, Elia Kazan follows a young Greek man in his desperate efforts to escape a life of hardship and persecution in Turkey for one of hope and opportunity in America. The screenplay was adapted by Kazan from his own book and is based in part on his own uncle's life. Stavros Topouzoglou lives a desperate and dangerous existence as a derided minority Greek living in Anatolia in the 1890s. While Stavros can only dream of heading West to begin a new life for himself, he is entrusted with his parents' savings and sent to Constantinople to work for his uncle's carpet company. However, along the hazardous journey, Stavros is robbed of his belongings and arrives in the Turkish capital penniless, but more determined than ever to escape this land and make a new life for himself.
This sprawling epic is anchored by a heart-wrenching central performance by unknown 22-year-old Greek actor Stathis Giallelis, who appears in almost every frame of the film. Plucked from obscurity by Kazan after a worldwide search for "a ferret, not a lion", Giallelis was resoundingly praised for his role as the spirited and determined young Stavros. His performance is captured beautifully by Haskell Wexler's stunning black and white photography, which in turn helped Gene Callahan to Oscar glory for his vividly authentic production design.
The production itself suffered from a hazardous journey from the screen, beginning when the production's original financiers pulled out shortly before filming began. While on location, the Greek director and his crew combated repeated hostilities from Turkish authorities as well as onlookers, with power players in the country voicing their particular concerns about the negative portrayal of the country's history. In 2001, America, America was selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry and is frequently praised as one of Kazan's very best films, alongside the likes of On The Waterfront and East Of Eden.
America, America is new print persevered from UCLA. Preservation funding provided by Warner Bros. in association with The Film Foundation and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
||Cinema, Hong Kong Film Archive
*Post-screening talk with Matthew Cheng, in Cantonese
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