Greek films shine in gloom

Source: SMH

Still from Joy, starring  Amalia Moutoussi

Amalia Moutoussi gives a powerful performance in Joy, one of several films that triumphs over Greece’s economic hardship.

Twenty years ago, Eleni Bertes was part of the inaugural Greek Film Festival in Melbourne, working as a volunteer at an event she helped to found. Now, she is back as an invited guest at this year’s festival, accompanying a Greek movie she has produced.

It is a good feeling, she says, “to come full circle, after starting something 20 years ago with some fellow collaborators”.

Bertes, who lives and works in Athens, helped to start the Greek Film Festival in 1993, along with Costas Markos and Costas Karamarkos. She is a lawyer, who went from “a very dry legal background” to work as legal and business affairs manager at Film Victoria. There, and in subsequent roles, she learnt about financing and other aspects of the film business, so it was almost inevitable she would move into production or executive production, she said. “And trying my luck in Greece seemed like a natural progression.”

She moved to Athens in 2003.

Since then, she said, she knows that the festival has grown and evolved, and she is even more closely aware of how much Greek cinema has been flourishing in recent years. This has taken place as the country has gone through a devastating recession in the wake of the global financial crisis.

In particular, Greek films have had a strong impact at international festivals – with filmmakers such as Yorgos Lanthimos and Athina Rachel Tsangari, and movies such as Dogtooth, Alps, Atten-berg, Wasted Youth and Boy Eating the Bird’s Food, this year’s Greek entry at the Oscars for best foreign film.

“These films are made with a great amount of difficulty and very little money,” Bertes said. “The economic environment in Greece is particularly challenging.”

The work she brings to the festival is Joy, for which she was the executive producer. It was written and directed by Ilias Yannakakis, and it is his second feature, after several years working in documentary and television. The idea for the film came from a news brief.

When he approached her about producing the film, Bertes said, Yannakakis was ready to discuss all kinds of possibilities, but he had two elements that were non-negotiable: he had a particular actor in mind for the lead, and he wanted to shoot on 35-millimetre black and white film.

It is not hard to see why he was so certain about Amalia Moutoussi – a well-known theatre actor but with limited exposure on screen. She gives a powerful, engrossing performance as Hara, a middle-aged woman who walks into a hospital and emerges with a three-month-old baby.

And the austerity and clarity of black-and-white have an undeniable impact. They help to define Yannakakis’ exploration of how individuals, society and the law deal with Hara’s actions, and how she responds. The film is both assertive and ambiguous – an exploration of the maternal impulse that turns into a tale of complexity, rhetoric and silence.

Joy screens on Wednesday, November 13, at 9pm.

The Greek Film Festival is at Palace Como until November 24.

Writer Odysseus Lappas sues over Justin Timberlake film ‘plagiarism’

Source: BBCNews

Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried in In Time

In Time, released in 2011, starred both Justin Timberlake and Mamma Mia’s Amanda Seyfried

A Greek writer is suing the makers of Justin Timberlake’s sci-fi thriller In Time, saying they stole his idea.

Odysseus Lappas is demanding $4.5m (£2.8m) from 20th Century Fox and New Regency, according to papers filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

In Time was set in a future world, where humans stop aging at 25, and must buy, borrow or steal time from other people – otherwise they die.

Lappas claims he wrote an “uncannily similar” synopsis in 1996.

His story, which was filed with the Writer’s Guild of America, was called Time Card.

Still image from In Time

In the film, the protagonists’ remaining time on earth counts down via a clock on their arm

According to his legal case, it was “an action-adventure love story about a man and a woman who live in a future world wherin the human life span had changed and people would die after reaching their 25th birthday”.

“Specifically, the Time Card synopsis outlines the main character as being broke and out of time, yet in love with a very rich woman who is virtually immortal,” the filing continues.

“The similarities are striking”.

Lappas said he met with a representative from 20th Century Fox, who offered to buy the rights to his idea for £80,000 (£49,733).

He refused, as he wanted to either write or produce any film arising from his story – but said the two parties entered into an “implied-in-fact contract”, suggesting he would be compensated if his synopsis was used.

In Time, released by Fox in 2011, made $173m (£107.5m) worldwide. It was credited to screenwriter/director Andrew Niccol, who previously penned the scripts for The Truman Show and Gattaca.

There has been no comment on the legal case by Fox or New Regency.

Territory emergency staff to aid Typhoon effort including Darwin-based Dr Len Notaras

Source: ABC

Territory emergency staff to aid Typhoon effort

By Ruby Jones

Updated Mon 11 Nov 2013, 5:51pm AEDT

Fallen trees and destroyed houses

A team of Northern Territory medical and emergency workers trained in disaster relief are preparing to travel to Tacloban City in the Philippines with a portable hospital and supplies following typhoon Haiyan.

In Tacloban 10,000 people are reported dead and thousands more are injured.

The 36 workers – who are part of the Darwin-based National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre – will leave Darwin within 24 hours.

The Centre’s head, Dr Len Notaras, said the team will treat thousands of people injured in the typhoon, and their operation will be fully self sustained.

“They’ll go up there for a minimum of two weeks to start with,” Dr Notaras said.

“They’ll have a sixty bed, fully deployable hospital, which is air conditioned, its own generators, its own power sources, and fuel, and as well as that they’ll have their own sleeping quarters, their own food and so on.”

Dr Notaras said it is expected the team will treat up to three and a half thousand people in the first two weeks.

“It will be a confronting scene but by the same token these are highly trained individuals who are well equipped to respond to events such as this and will be, as soon as they touch down, able to provide assistance to the people of the Philippines.”

The Federal Government has approved a $10 million dollar humanitarian assistance package to the Philippines.

The Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles said his Government will also donate $10,000 to the relief effort.

Medical team prepares for emergency airlift
Photo: Members of the NCCTRC medical team gather as supplies are prepared for their emergency mission to the Philippines. (ABC News)

Peter Mac researchers reveal new treatment option on the horizon for women with lethal form of ovarian cancer

Media Release

Researchers from Melbourne’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre have revealed a potential new treatment option for some women with the most lethal form of ovarian cancer, using a class of therapies already clinically approved to treat blood cancer.

Senior author of the study, Professor David Bowtell, says the findings, published this morning in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveal that in a subset of women with high-grade serous carcinomas, the growth of their cancer is dependent on the activity of the BRCA1 gene.

‘In women with high-grade serous ovarian cancer, ten to 20 per cent of cases are driven by amplification of the Cyclin E1 gene, and about 20 per cent of patients have mutations that inactivate BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes — recently it has been shown that BRCA1 mutations and Cyclin E1 gene amplification rarely occur in the same patient.

‘By screening tens of thousands of genes, we found that cancers with Cyclin E1 amplification were particularly dependent on an in-tact BRCA1 gene — if the tumour has amplified Cyclin E1 and also mutation of BRCA1, then the cancer cells can not survive.’

Lead author, Dr Dariush Etemadmoghadam (pictured) says researchers sought to exploit the dependency of Cyclin E1 amplified cancers on BRCA1 to develop a new therapeutic approach for these tumours.

‘Recent research has shown a class of drugs known as proteasome inhibitors — approved to treat multiple myeloma in humans — are very effective at inhibiting the pathway involving BRCA1 and our laboratory experiments confirmed these drugs are effective for treating Cyclin E1 amplified tumours.

Professor Bowtell says there is great need for new therapeutic approaches for women whose ovarian cancer has Cyclin E1 amplification.

‘Women in this subset generally have poor response to standard treatment and reduced survival rates, so we are hopeful this new approach can be tested in a clinical trial in the near future.

‘We now know ovarian cancer is a very diverse disease, analogous to a Russian babushka doll — it looks like one doll until you take it apart and find layer after layer — but we’re confident when we have finally separated this cancer into all its molecular groups, we will have a much better chance of improving survival for all women.’

Queensland scientists researchers uncovers breast cancer switch


Queensland scientists have identified a genetic “switch” which indicates whether breast cancer is aggressive and likely to spread.

The discovery may provide a clearer prognosis for breast cancer patients and pave the way for new treatments.

Teams from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and the Institute of Molecular Bioscience (UQ) have found a particular RNA (Ribonucleic acid) molecule goes missing in aggressive cancers.

QIMR Berghofer’s Dr Nicole Cloonan says the discovery will make it easier to identify aggressive tumours.

“Essentially, this particular gene fragment, or microRNA, normally acts like an emergency brake in our genetic program, ensuring our cells continue to reproduce normally,” Dr Cloonan explained.

“But we’ve identified that this “emergency brake” fails in invasive, aggressive tumours. Its sudden absence in cancer tests would be a clear marker that a tumour is likely to spread.

“And we know that primary breast cancer rarely kills; it is those aggressive tumours that spread, or metastasise, which result in poor outcomes.”

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Australian women.

Survival largely depends on the timing of diagnosis. If the cancer is limited to the breast, 96 per cent of patients will be alive five years after diagnosis, according Cancer Council Australia.

Dr Cloonan says, although the research focused on breast cancer, it has wider implications.

It is clear the microRNA is also missing in aggressive liver, stomach, brain and skin cancers, she said.

“What we’ve uncovered seems to be a common cellular process which could be a new drug target,” Dr Cloonan said.

Scientists discover a “tumor-prone” cell that can lead to brain cancer


A new study has revealed a rare cell type that gives rise to a type of brain cancer called medulloblastoma.

The unusual cells, called “nestin-expressing progenitors” (NEPs), are more efficient at generating medulloblastoma than other brain cells.

The research, published in Nature Neuroscience and conducted by Sanford-Burnham researchers in collaboration with scientists at Fox Chase Cancer Center, provides critical insight into how normal cells transform into tumors and may yield new approaches for targeting brain tumors. Medulloblastoma is an aggressive tumor that is located in the cerebellum, and accounts for 18 percent of all pediatric tumors.

Medulloblastoma is thought to arise during development of the cerebellum, from cells called granule neuron precursors (GNPs) that reside in the external granule layer (EGL) on the outside of the cerebellum.

Until now, most scientists believed that GNPs were the only cells that could give rise to medulloblastoma.

The study team, co-led by Robert Wechsler-Reya, Ph.D., of Sanford-Burnham, and Zeng-jie Yang, Ph.D, of Fox Chase Cancer Center, used genetically engineered mice to identify a new cell type in the EGL—NEPs. Like GNPs, NEPs are committed to generating granule neurons—very small neurons that make up 75 percent of all brain cells.

But unlike GNPs, NEPs have high levels of a protein called nestin, which is commonly found only in stem cells. The presence of nestin suggested that NEPs might be more primitive than GNPs, and like stem cells, more capable of long-term growth and survival.

“Another major difference between NEPs and GNPs is that the DNA repair mechanisms of NEPs are less active,” said Wechsler-Reya. “Since DNA repair protects cells from becoming cancerous, we speculated that NEPs might be more likely than GNPs to give rise to brain tumors.” To directly compare the tumor-forming ability of NEPs and GNPs, the researchers performed a series of transplantation experiments, using NEPs and GNPs carrying a cancer-causing mutation.

When they transplanted large numbers of cells, both NEPs and GNPs gave rise to tumors. But when they transplanted very few cells, GNPs did not cause tumors, whereas NEPs were still capable of doing so.

These results confirmed that NEPs have an increased capacity to form tumors. “Identifying the cells that can give rise to medulloblastoma allows us to compare tumor cells to their normal counterparts, so that key differences and vulnerabilities of tumor cells can be identified.

Our study describes a novel ‘tumor-prone’ cell population that may provide new insights into the mechanisms of cancer development. By studying these cells, we may find new approaches to targeting brain cancer,” Wechsler-Reya said. About Medulloblastoma Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumor, affecting about 500 children in the United States annually. Current treatment options for medulloblastoma include aggressive surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

Today, over two-thirds of children are successfully treated. However, survivors generally suffer long-term side effects such as cognitive and developmental disabilities due to the aggressive treatment, and in many cases the tumor reappears within a few years after treatment. Li P, Du F, Yuelling LW, Lin T, Muradimova RE, Tricarico R, Wang J, Enikolopov G, Bellacosa A, Wechsler-Reya RJ, & Yang ZJ (2013). A population of Nestin-expressing progenitors in the cerebellum exhibits increased tumorigenicity.

Eurovision 2014: Αυτά είναι τα επικρατέστερα ονόματα για την Ελληνική συμμετοχή!


Στην δημοσιότητα βγήκαν τα επικρατέστερα ονόματα της ελληνικής συμμετοχής για τον φετινό διαγωνισμό της Eurovision στην Κοπεγχάγη.

Σύμφωνα με ρεπορτάζ της εκπομπής «Μελέτησέ το» τα ονόματα που θα διαγωνιστούν είναι ο Λούκας Γιώρκας, ο Μύρωνας Στρατής, οι Wedding Singers, ο Κώστας Μαρτάκης με τον Νίκο Ζωιδάκη και η Κρυσταλλία.

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