Italian Rebetiko Enthusiast to Portray Legend Markos Vamvakaris in Animation Film


The late Markos Vamvakaris is widely known as “the father of rebetiko” and has such a reputation within the genre that most fans simply refer to him by first name.

But never before have they seen him on the big screen — in animated form.

Yet that’s where his likeness will be portrayed — due to the creative genius of an Italian filmmaker who fell in love with rebetiko music.

That Italian is Thomas Kunstler, a Rome native who is bringing the deceased Vamvakaris back to life in his forthcoming stop-motion animation film titled “Markaki.”

The film remains in production phase and its tentative release is scheduled for 2020.

Kunstler studied film production with a focus in the documentary genre at Farnham University for the Creative Arts in Kent, England. It was there where he discovered, or rather was introduced to, his love of rebetiko — and particularly Vamvakaris.

During his studies Kunstler roomed with Greeks, who all but “baptized” him into the world of Greek blues.

In an interview with Athens Voice newspaper, Kunstler explained how his “baptism” unfolded.

“I was living with two Greeks, Antonis and Dimitris. Before that I didn’t even know what Greek is. I knew “kalimera”, “kalispera” and “malaka,” he said. “When my friends showed me rebetiko it sounded very fresh and new. But it’s not just rebetiko, Greece has a thrilling music tradition.”

Before moving to Athens last year, the Rome native spent approximately four years frequently visiting Greece — whether for vacation or film-related projects — and returning to his home city.

In the beginning, Kunstler made short claymation films only using his cellphone and camera. But then he showed his creations to his father — who gifted him his own camera. Since then, Kunstler has not looked back.

His claymation portfolio includes short films such as “Rebetiko,” which has since gone relatively viral — garnering more than 80,000 views.

See the film

After seeing the success of his first video, Kunstler decided to release a follow up titled “Den Les Kouventa,” meaning “You Don’t Say a Word” in English.

That film went on to screen in the 10th International Animation Film Festival (Anima Syros) on Syros island in 2017.

See the film

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