I first met George in Guangzhou, China. I was sitting in a restaurant (I couldn’t order food, as I could barely speak a word of Chinese) and in walked an odd-looking, guitar-carrying Greek-Canadian. He sat down to chat with me, and then he surprised me by turning around and ordering us a full meal in fluent Mandarin. The waitresses were all stunned—one by one, they all crowded around our table, blushing and giggling, listening to this hairy foreigner speak Chinese.
Then to everyone’s surprise, George whipped out his guitar, and started to sing folk songs…again, in fluent Mandarin. Suddenly, I was sitting with Elvis! (You know the TV concert where all the girls sit on the stairs around Elvis, as he sings and plays the acoustic guitar? That Elvis) To me it was like watching Neil Diamond, or Don Ho, but to the waitresses this was ELVIS, clapping, singing and swooning dreamily along. His impromptu concert shut down the restaurant for 45 minutes and opened up an entirely new China to me. I decided there and then I wanted to make a film about this guy.
So imagine how I felt when I when met up with George in Canada…and learned that “Elvis” still lived with his mother. He was no longer the troubadour ladies man I had met in China, but instead a government statistician! I was a bit confused, since this George was so different from the one I’d seen charm the ladies in China.
Then he told me about his Olympic dream: to perform at the closing ceremonies of the Athens Olympics, as Athens passed the torch to China. As the “only Greek in the world who can sing in Chinese”, it was his duty to sing at the Olympics. And it was my duty to follow George on his quixotic journey through Greece, China and Canada, chasing his dream, during an exhausting, extraordinary 2-year period.
Chairman George is about a man finding his place in our chaotic, globalized planet. Where a Greek-Canadian statistician can learn Mandarin, print up some trilingual business cards and re-invent his life in China. Where he can aspire to bring the ancient cultures of Greece and China together for a brief moment at the Olympic games. Let George be your guide through this strange new world…