By J1 Reporter Melina Piperis
Atop a misty mountain in the Mediterranean, sunshine greets the village of Anogeia. A herd of sheep ambles along the rocky terrain, while birds glide across the morning sky. The deep hum of a lauto is steady and strong, as the melodic lyra joins to recite a familiar tune. Hand in hand, a family begins to dance.
George Xylouris was born in Anogeia, Crete, in 1965. The son of a world famous lyra player and nephew of a legendary singer, George has dedicated his life to the Cretan tradition. The Xylouris legacy and the music of Crete are blissfully captured in “A Family Affair.”
Angeliki Aristomenopoulou’s documentary communicates the relevance of folk music in a contemporary world. The English/Greek film offers artist and audience perspectives of the lasting Cretan musical tradition. “A Family Affair” is an hour and 23 minutes of captivating performances, insightful interviews, and an accurate portrayal of the international music scene.
“A Family Affair” shares the story of the Xylouris family from the voices of three generations. The film primarily follows George Xylouris, and his musical impact on his three children. I was specifically impressed by Aristomenopoulou’s use of contrast in this film. The juxtaposed perspectives of George and his children show the evolution of Cretan music’s relevance. While the Xylouris children show great dedication to preserving their family’s folk tradition, “A Family Affair” highlights the role of Cretan music in the 21st century. After practicing their lyra and lauto for the day, Nikos and Adonis open their laptops to study modern music production. On her way to perform alongside her grandfather, Psarantonis, Appolonia blares electronica from her headphones. As time passes, and music continues to evolve, “A Family Affair” documents the continued relevance of folk music in the modern world.
While the story of the Xylouris family is fascinating enough, Aristomenopoulou’s visuals in “A Family Affair” broaden its appeal even more. The effortless shift between modern and vintage footage beautifully captures the stories of Greece. The combination of performances, interviews, and scenery show a glimpse of the history and importance of Cretan folk. “A Family Affair” is a wonderfully executed film, and the rightful winner of the 2015 Hellenic Film Academy Award for Best Documentary.
“A Family Affair” is available for rent and purchase on Prime Video, Youtube, Google Play, Vudu and iTunes.
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