Confessions of a TIFF virgin–the film “God Loves Caviar”


Minos Matsas (left) who wrote the original musical score for the film “God Loves Caviar” and the director of the film, Yannis Smaragdis (right). Picture was taken on 15 September at the Cineplex Theatre – Yonge and Dundas Streets, at the World Premier of the film in Toronto

The film “God Loves Caviar,” at the 2012 TIFF, is the story of an eighteenth-century pirate, named Ioannis Varvakis, who becomes a highly successful merchant. Though the pace of the movie is slow at times, it weaves an interesting tale of a man who lives life in grand style, beyond the boundaries of society, while trying to do the right thing. It is when he is employed by the Russians, ruled at the time by Catherine the Great, that he discovers the delights of caviar. He devises a plan to market it throughout all Russia and eventually across Europe. As a result of this enterprise, he becomes the richest man in Russia.

He loves Greece, the land of his birth, and when he is an elderly man, he plots to free it from Turkish rule, having his son lead the revolution. The movie has a tragic ending yet is upbeat and leaves the viewer with a pleasant feeling toward the whims of fate.

In the question and answer session following the screening, Vannis Smaragdis provided insight into the ideas that guided him while he was directing the film.  One viewer asked him if the title hinted at a religious motive and if the final scene was symbolic of the Eucharist. He replied that this was not the case. He was thinking more of Plato’s idea that we are all born into the primeval light and if we live our lives trying to do good, we return to this primeval light. Viewers knew what he meant in terms of the film.

Another viewer inquired how he was able to convince Catherine Deneuve to play such a minor role in the film, that of Catherine the Great. The director replied that she eagerly sought the part, really wanting the play Russian Tsarina. He said it was “Catherine playing Catherine.” He also said that when she appeared on the set in full costume, the entire cast applauded as she looked so regal, as if she really were a queen. Having watched the movie, this was easy to believe.

The main character of the film, Ioannis Varvakis, is today a folk hero in Greece. After its world premier in Toronto, the film will be screened in Greece, and I am certain that it will generate much interest. I must confess that I feel that although it is not a “great” film, I enjoyed it and was intrigued by the story.

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The director and the composer of the original score employed in “God Loves Caviar.”

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The CNE Air Show is over for another year and the Ex is closed.

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The new Toronto Aquarium at the base of the CN Tower, due to open in simmer – 2013

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Construction at Clarence Square on the east side of Spadina, north of Front Street.

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The northwest corner of Queen and Spadina where a McDonald’s is located.

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The history of the site of the Dragon City Mall on the southwest corner of Spadina and Dundas Streets.

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The historic home now occupied by Paul Magder Furs

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The 1890s church of St. Margaret’s Anglican on Spadina south of Queen street. The church is now hidden from view by a modern addition across the front of it.

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The iconic Balfour Building at Spadina and Adelaide Streets

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House on Spadina south of Dundas Street – today it is difficult to believe that it was once a prestigious residential building

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The vanished underground men’s washroom from the early nineteenth century, located in the middle of the street at Queen and Spadina.

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The site of the Consumers’ Glass Building at 239-241 Spadina, south of Dundas Street. It is presently under restoration.

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