Thessaloniki, early 80s.
Old man Andreas, a typesetter in a printing house, witnesses the transition from polytonic to monotonic spelling,
along with the marginalization and slow death of traditional printing.
The old movable type is being sold by the pound to be molten into lead. Faced with the catastrophe of this emotionally valuable property, Andreas decides to steal as much as he can in order to save them. His accomplice in this act – without really knowing it, is Thanassis, a young apprentice typographer. They get caught in the act, and old man Andreas will find himself in an unexpected situation.
Excerpt from the critical evaluation of Grand Temoin of 34 Festival of the Greek Short Films, Božidar Zečević, film critic and theoretician from Belgrade, held on Sept. 24, 2011. at the Festival premises in Drama
Finally, at the end of this short survey of this year Greek competition, stands the film that could be regarded as a landmark in the contemporary production. It is Movable Type by Andreas Siadimas, a film that made a great impression on me.
Being a publisher and an editor for the past forty years, dealing almost daily with a printing press I saw not less then three technological epochs succeeding each other in traumatic shifts. The first was slow but inevitable disappearance of so called typo press, a Gutenberg galaxy of Marshall McLuhan, with its leaden-casted letters, which were operated either manually or in machine- made layouts. The painful ending of this Gutenberg Empire of words and signs came with electronic offset blueprints of the early eighties of the last century. And as soon as that was established I was an eyewitness and participant in the new global shift to digital printing, which almost brushed away everything previously established.
The three shifts of different, even opposed printing civilizations in one single human life, my own! I sometime wonder how I remained normal under those circumstances. Or I didn’t?
The Movable Type is a film-essay expressed in two metaphorical levels. On the first one it is a story of the resistance given by humanistic attitudes against the dictatorship of new technologies. A rebellion of books against hardware as Umberto Eco might say. A revolt of human mind against hollow technologies as depicted a long ago by Arnold Toynbee. On the second level it is a global metaphor on resistance of an individual against the ruling powers of oppressive society. Both levels flow into a challenge of Civilizations Clash within the changing social context. Can we ask more from a single short? This little masterpiece opens vistas to past and future.
Evening of January 11th, 1982.
Greek parliament pass a law which will radically change the way the Greek language is written. Three accents that had been in constant use since the second century BC, are abolished into history. One single accent remains in the Greek language. Within the next few weeks, Greek printing houses have to get rid of tons of now obsolete typographical elements. All vowels with the obsolete accents are now just wasted space. A big part of Greek typography gets sold by the pound and is lost forever.