Nikos Kachtitsis in a scene from Hollywood Cut, 1967
Kosta Klonis's 1936 Packard used in Hollywood Cut
Nikos Kachtitsis in my film Hollywood Cut, on location in Mont Saint-Bruno, 1967
I met Nikos Kachtitsis in Montreal in 1967. He was an extraordinary man; lean, frugal in a signature dark suit with a hooked-handled umbrella and a copy of a literary review tucked under his arm. He was a master of the quiet but compelling existential observation, the haunting anecdote, the occasional unexpected confession of self-doubt. He was a stickler for punctuality that put me in his disfavor on at least one occasion. Nikos and I were good friends for all too short a time before his untimely death in 1970. He would visit me at my unfurnished Saint-Urban street apartment and we would trade stories, read poetry aloud. He had an immediate impact on my poetic sense of the world.
With a vague notion of a film narrative in my head, a wind-up 16mm Bolex camera, a couple of rolls of black & white film and a few amateur actors at hand we set out to make a short film together. After a few days shooting in the Mont Saint-Bruno region south east of Montreal we had part of what was to become my first film - Hollywood Cut.
Nikos had purchased a small manual typeset printing press and installed it in his Outremont home basement and began publishing a little magazine called The Palimpsest. He published books of his own poetry, short stories and the work of others. They were hand-bound on fine textured paper with arcane graphics and the promise of new editions to come.
I have before me, as I write this tribute, one of his self-published books entitled Vulnerable Point, 1949, Fourteen Poems of Youth, published by his Anthelion Press, Montreal, 1968. It consists of english versions of some of his poems and vignettes. Some time ago I was disgusted with myself, thinking I had lost the copy of his book he had given me. When it turned up hidden under a stack of poetry books in my study, I felt I had saved an object of distinct sentimental value from the ravages of my own negligence.
I can see and touch the Braille-like dents of the hand-set type in the paper.
There is something wonderful in knowing that it was by his will and his love of life and literature that this book was created so many years ago.
His literary works include L'Hotel Atlantic, The Balcony and The Beautiful-Ugly Woman.