A Family Affair

A FAMILY AFFAIR, Greece/Australia, 2015, starring The Xyloouris Family: Antonis, Georgis, Shelagh, Nikos, Antonis and Appolonia. Directed by Angeliki Aristopoulomenou. Rated G.

There will not be too many people around Australia, let alone the world, who have not been hearing about and thinking about Greece in recent months, even years. And that is all about finance, debts, repayments, currencies and the European Union. And divisions between yes votes and no votes.

This is a film, however, A Greek-Australian co-production that will have everyone saying yes.

The settings for the film are Crete with its long historical traditions, especially its music traditions, and Australia where many Greeks have settled and brought the music with them. Which means that this is a multi-cultural film experience, a pleasure for Greek audiences, especially in Crete, and a pleasure for multi-cultural Australian audiences who appreciate different styles of music, different instruments and skill in playing them.

As for the title, this is definitely a family affair. The Xylouris family has developed a very strong tradition, the music and performance techniques being handed on from generation to generation. The film focuses particularly on Georgis Xylouris, well respected in Greece, a musician who has toured the world (and there are scenes from his playing in several Western European countries). He has also visited Australia, and in this film, there are scenes from 2012, the Womadelaide Festival as well as concerts in the Forum Theatre in Melbourne and some rehearsals and radio interviews. Accompanying Georgis is his father, a strong patriarch, an expert player from George inherited his talent.

But, the film, veering between mountainous landscapes at home and the vast open terrain of Australia, the film has quite a number of Australian connections. George is married to his Australian wife, Shelagh, who lives in Crete and has brought up three children. But, the two boys, talented musicians in themselves, have come to Australia for university studies and, as the film opens, the younger sister, Apollonia, is moving also to Australia, for study but also for performances. She is a touch nervous as she practises, especially in the presence of her grandfather.

Any documentary about a close family has its attractions, as does this one. When there are loving bonds which are lived every day through music, strings and lute, the bonds are even stronger.

The film serves as a positive reminder of the best in Australian multiculturalism.

Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.


Released 2 July 2015.

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