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Composer Mikis Theodorakis, who did the music for a number of Cacoyannis’ films, was in the front row of mourners at the Orthodox ceremony in a central Athens church strewn with white flower crowns sent by friends and fans.

“Today we say goodbye to a great creator who brought Greek culture to the rest of the world,” Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou told the solemn gathering.

She hailed Cacoyannis’ cinematic achievements but also his work in theatre and cinema education via a foundation he created in Athens.

Also present were Greek and Cypriot political representatives, other directors and actors like Antonis Kafetzopoulos, Costas Ferris and Constantin Giannaris.

Dimitris Papaioannou, choreographer of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2004 Athens Olympics, was also present.

Greek actress Irene Papas told Greek media that Cacoyannis had joined “the grand theatre of the immortals”, while Ta Nea newspaper said the director, through Zorba the Greek, “did more for Greece than any tourism bureau in the world”.

Born in Cyprus on June 11, 1922, Cacoyannis shot to fame with the triple-Oscar winning “Zorba the Greek” in 1964, an adaptation of the Nikos Kazantzakis-penned novel which starred Anthony Quinn, Alan Bates and Irene Pappas among others.

He was also feted for the film “Electra”, based on the Euripides tragedy, which received two awards at Cannes in 1962. The director died at the central Evangelismos hospital on Monday where he was admitted 10 days earlier.

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