God Loves Caviar - New Film
Director Yiannis Smaragdis is currently producing his new film titled 'God Loves Caviar' which focuses on the fascinating life of one of the richest Greeks of the 19th century - Ioannis Varvakis (1745-1825) - who made caviar known to the rest of the world and financially supported the Greek Independence War.
Following the success of his earlier films on El Greco and Constantine Cavafy, Smaragdis has chosen to portray the personality, life and work of an historical figure less known to the public - even the Greek one.
Ioannis Varvakis was from the small island of Psara, in eastern Aegean and was a skilful sailor and pirate. After offering his services to the Russian fleet during the Russo-Turkish War of 1768-1774, he was forced to leave for Russia and seek an audience with Empress Catherine the Great. She gave him 1,000 golden rubles as a gift and an authorization for unlimited and duty-free fishery in the Caspian Sea.
He settled first in Astrakhan and then in Taganrog. He became rich by inventing a solution to preserve the freshness of caviar eggs while being transported by ship: he used boxes made of bass-wood, which did not cause alterations in the precious eggs and were absolutely waterproof. Until then the caviar had been preserved in caves.
Varvakis desired to promote education in the newly-established Greek state. Thus, he donated 1 million rubles for the building of a high school, which was named Varvakeion in his honour and has been one of the most prominent schools in Greece to this day.
The film, a co-production of Greece, Russia, and Spain is still in preparation and is expected to be screened in 2012.