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aka - Mia Oikogeneiaki Ypothesi
Greece/Australia 2015
Directed by
Angeliki Aristomenopoulou
82 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Sharon Hurst
4 stars

Family Affair, A

Synopsis: This stirring documentary follows three generations of the Xylouris family, who are proponents of traditional Cretan music. The family also has a close bond with Australia.

I’d better make a full disclosure up front – I am a Hellenophile with a deep love of all things Greek (well, not their politics!) and have visited Crete, and indeed the small village of Anogeia from where the Xylouris family hail. I have heard the type of music featured in the film on Cretan radio and loved it so much I have immediately hit the iTunes store to buy it. So, call me prejudiced if you will!

We meet the Xylouris family in 2012 when George and his Australian wife, Shelagh, are preparing to send their daughter, Apollonia, to Australia to join her brothers to study here. George has been in demand all his life in Crete and around the world, whilst his father, Psarantonis, is somewhat of a legend in Cretan music. They play the laouto, a kind of  lute, and the lyra - stringed instruments with hundreds of years of tradition. George’s sons, Nikos and Antonis, also play and Appollonia sings. With the kids settled in Australia finally the family comes together to put on a concert at WomAdelaide – three generations performing together.

Meantime, we have been introduced to George as a 7-year old appearing on US television. We hear how George first travelled to Australia in 1988 with his father. We see archival footage of the adult George performing at weddings and functions in his home village. There is a bit of background about Anogeia being a village of shepherds and how aspects of the music reflect this lonely life along with the rugged beauty of the Cretan landscape. Other music styles played have a near frenetic, trance-like quality that is quite unlike our usual concept of Greek music. There is also a surprising musical connection with Shelagh’s family who are of Irish origin, and in one fun segment, the Greeks get together with the Irish for a jam session.

Through everything we get an undeniable sense of the connectedness of this family. This is such an unusual, uplifting and refreshing thing to see in an era of fragmented families and hurried lives. The boys especially, who are such Aussies in their everyday lives, access whole other personae that are quintessentially Greek and defined by their music and language.

Even if you are not a Greek freak, or a music fiend, you cannot fail to be impressed by the way this film documents what it means for a family to be bonded through the generations by a shared love and tradition.

Postscript: Anyone wanting to understand more about Cretan music should visit before seeing the film.




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