Directed and Edited by Joel Checkley and Produced by Belinda Ensor for Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria, 2015.Contributors
Reproduction of this content for public purposes must be approved by the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria.Copyright
Copyright Joel Checkley + Belinda Ensor, 2015.
Peter Yiannoudes established Greek Cinema in Victoria in the 1950s.
A Greek-Cypriot, Peter travelled around Victoria with a portable projector and showed Greek films wherever he could find Greek audiences. He also showed films from other cultures such as Indian films. Peter helped shape the identity of the first generation of Greek Victorians.
Over time, Peter bought several movie houses around Melbourne, which were showing Greek films until 1984. Peter still owns one of these.
This film also includes an interview with James Tatoulis, today a renowned heart surgeon, who spent his youth in the Greek cinema and credits it for contributing to his sense of identity as a Greek Australian.
Peter Yiannoudes has a very real sense of history and of his role in creating a multicultural Victoria. Fortunately Peter has maintained an enormous collection of films, posters, movie machines and has written a book.
1. Peter Yiannoudes as a young man, courtesy of Peter Yiannoudes.
2. Peter Yiannoudes Cannes International Film Festival pass from 1977, courtesy of Peter Yiannoudes.
3. Backyard barbecue, 1948 (picture), State Library of Victoria.
4. Greek cinema poster, courtesy of Peter Yiannoudes.
5. Nicholas Hall, courtesy of Peter Yiannoudes.
6. Finos Films Archival Document, courtesy of Peter Yiannoudes.
7. Greek cinema poster, courtesy of Peter Yiannoudes.
8. Peter Yiannoudes in his office, courtesy of Peter Yiannoudes.
9. Greek cinema poster, courtesy of Peter Yiannoudes.
10. Greek cinema poster, courtesy of Peter Yiannoudes.
11. Melbourne Town Hall at night, (picture), photographed by Edwin G. Adamson, State Library of Victoria.
12. Greek cinema advertisement, courtesy of Peter Yiannoudes.
13. Milk Bar, 1950s (picture), State Library of Victoria.
14. Interior view of Mrs Dewar milk bar, State Library of Victoria.
15. Fruit picking in Victoria, c. 1954, State Library of Victoria.
16. The Princess Theatre, courtesy of Peter Yiannoudes.
17. Greek cinema advertisement, courtesy of Peter Yiannoudes.
18. Peter Yiannoudes and various business colleagues, courtesy of Peter Yiannoudes.
19. The National Theatre in Richmond, courtesy of Peter Yiannoudes.
20. The Sun Theatre in Yarraville, courtesy of Peter Yiannoudes.
21. The Paramount in Oakleigh, courtesy of Peter Yiannoudes.
22. The Kinema in Albert Park, courtesy of Peter Yiannoudes.
23. The Empire Theatre in Brunswick, courtesy of Peter Yiannoudes.
24. The Westgarth Theatre in Northcote, courtesy of Peter Yiannoudes.
25. Greek cinema poster, courtesy of Peter Yiannoudes.
26. Peter Yiannoudes with roles of film, courtesy of Peter Yiannoudes.
Peter Yiannoudes: My name is Panayiotis or Peter Michael Yiannoudes and I born in a small village in Cyprus, Vouni, in Limossol.
Peter Yiannoudes: I was involved in the cinemas when I was nearly 15 years old, starting, working as a ticket seller in a cinema in Limossol, Cyprus and since then it become part of my life.
James Tatoulis: My name is James Tatoulis. I have lived in Australia for the last sixty years and came as a young kid, as a migrant. Great experiences throughout and one of the powerful experiences was being involved, in the very start of Greek cinema in Melbourne.
Peter Yiannoudes: I came in Australia in 1956. I remember there were not many Greeks in those days.
James Tatoulis: There was very little sort of social possibilities, so family gatherings, houses, for name days and eventually engagements and weddings became very important as did film and cinema.
Peter Yiannoudes: They used screen Greek films every Saturday in a small church hall, they called Nicholas Hall in Lonsdale Street, the city.
But before I left Cyprus my boss, Raiola, he used to be the agent of Finos Films and so he told me ‘Look, if at any time you wanted to be an agent Finos Films, tell me and I will arrange that, and so when I came here I became their sole agent for Finos Films for many years.
And then I started of course, in 1957, I started my own business with this, with this, the film Golfo. But in Melbourne, unfortunately, not any theatre was willing to rent any cinema to anybody, for foreign films, but because I was working to the Hoyts Theatres, one of the projectionists gave me the idea of hiring Melbourne Town Hall.
James Tatoulis: The cinemas were in fact the Town Halls so it was an interesting environment.
Peter Yiannoudes: That was two and a half thousand seats in the centre of the city, beautiful place, then I have a big success out of that.
James Tatoulis:But there’s a real energy when you see a thousand people descend on Swanston Street on a Saturday night in the 1950s, you can imagine Swanston Street was pretty dead and suddenly you know there’s all these people there.
Peter Yiannoudes: And I remember that opposite was the, the Capitol Theatre and I remember the man came and said ‘What’s happening there, what’s, how many people? And, they said ‘it’s a Greek Film’.
James Tatoulis: It was the social point of the week because, as you might imagine, all these people, my parents in those days they’re in their thirties so they’d be working, you know, pretty hard in pretty menial tasks during the week and so it was you know the outlet, so Saturday night – it was almost like Saturday Night Fever.
Peter Yiannoudes: It was like to be in their own country. Come to the cinema, meet people, listen to their own language.
James Tatoulis: The films were good and I think the audience really empathised with the characters and they were very much part of it.
Peter Yiannoudes: It is very hard to, to explain how nostalgic you be when you are away from home. You think that is something that you can’t describe that.
James Tatoulis: So, you know, I think it had a tremendous influence in creating a basis for future Greek cultural events in Melbourne.
Peter Yiannoudes: The people who came from 1950s to 1959, 1960 it was not easy. They came, they had to work hard and they wanted to do something in their life for the future.
James Tatoulis: I doubt that many societies, apart from perhaps Australia and Canada and perhaps the US to some degree, you know, you could in one generation go from a sort of penniless migrant to your sort of being the top of you game in your profession.
Peter Yiannoudes: They gave to their children every thing possible the chance to become a professional.
James Tatoulis: I think the opportunities afforded were just absolutely fantastic and it’s based on education and merit, rather, rather than status and family.
Peter Yiannoudes: Everybody, they wanted to make their own business. The only place to go to make business is the country. This is why we found so many people, like Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Shepparton, Albury; but I couldn’t get any cinema there. I had decided to convert the film from 35 to 16mm. Then I went around Australia and New Zealand and Tasmania with one projector and one screen and I’ve been around Australia.
Peter Yiannoudes: In 1958 we went in partnership with the other, two other gentlemen – Mr Papodopolous and Mr Raftopoulos. They used to import their own films and we have decided that we make a group to be able to join forces s to be able to bring a professionalism in the Greek cinema business.
Peter Yiannoudes: Then, 1960, we bought the National Theatre in Richmond and then 1961 we bought the Sun Theatre, Yarraville and 1965, we bought in the same year the Paramount Theatre, Oakleigh, Kinema Theatre, Albert Park and the Empire Theatre, Brunswick and Westgarth Theatre, Northcote. So we bought really in every area there used to be Greeks, we opened a cinema.
James Tatoulis: So in a sense it was a semi-commercial, semi-altruistic, giant social work sort of happening and it was very successful.
Peter Yiannoudes: Really those days the cinema was the main entertainment.
James Tatoulis: Later on as the community became larger and more established then they established clubs.
Peter Yiannoudes: And then, of course, the community became older, the second generation they start to grow up, they wanted a different type of entertainment.
James Tatoulis: That really took you know ten to fifteen years to happen. So in the fifties and early sixties the, basically the church and cinema especially were the only, social sort of venues.
Peter Yiannoudes: Until 1979-80 when video came in and that was the end. Really we finish completely in 1984 really, we close all the theatres.
Peter Yiannoudes: The Greek cinema plays a major role really, in my opinion giving to the Australian immigrants something to remember and something to have ah, to cherish you know for the rest of our lives.
James Tatoulis: It had profound influence in bringing people together and, and really shaping, to some degree, the course of the Greek identity in Melbourne.
Peter Yiannoudes: For me, it was part of my life. It’s in me.
James Tatoulis: Certainly from a personal point of view, I’ve always been interested in cinema and whether that was the genesis of it or not I don’t know but even to this day, I’ll see probably a film a week.
Peter Yiannoudes: Still I am involved and still I love it and I will love it until my end.
Midnight at the Movies
Dance to Remember
This is How it Started
Those Women Who Cannot Love
A Windfall in Athens
Murder At Kolonaki
The Neighborhood Girl
The Little Mouse
The Lilly Of The Harbour
I Am Miserable
Greek Cinema Tickets
Wesote Nutki (Merry Notes) Polish Dancers
Wesote Nutki (Merry Notes) Polish Dancers in Traditional Costumes
Wesote Nutki (Merry Notes) Polish Dance Group
Wesote Nutki (Merry Notes) Polish Dance Performance
Wesote Nutki (Merry Notes) Polish Dancers Perform at Highpoint Shopping Centre
Wesote Nutki (Merry Notes) Polish Dancers Performing Outdoors
The Polish Community of Ardeer Building their Community Hall
Story education resources
Education Migrants Enriching Australia - Kinimatografos
This education resource links to relevant learning outcomes in the year 10 Australian History Curriculum. It utilises a range of primary sources including images, video and essays; interviews with members of the Greek community; inquiry and research-based activities; and assignment tasks and an assessment rubric.
The resource was created by Catherine McLay, 2015.
Education Migrants Enriching Australia - Polish Dance
This education resource links to relevant learning outcomes in the year 6 Australian History Curriculum. It utilises a range of primary sources including images, video and essays; interviews with members of the Polish community; inquiry and research-based activities; and assignment tasks and an assessment rubric.
This resource was created by Catherine McLay, 2015.