He was born in Crete in 1946 and studied film in Greece and Paris, France. He appeared in 1972 with his short film Two Three Things... which received the first prize in the Athens Festival as well as a Special Mention in the Montreal Film Festival. Yannis Smaragdis has taught Mass Media courses at the Panteion University of Athens, as well as film direction and screenwriting at film schools in Greece. He has published 2 books: Poetic Geography (1995) and Cavafy (1997) - a literary form of the script of the film Cavafy. Yannis Smaragdis is an honorary member of the Directors Guild of America.
1975 - Zero Cell – Feature Film. Official participation in the Carlovy-Vary Festival.
1976-1980 - Documentaries for Greek State Television, ERT in North Greece, and many episodes of police series, Ypopsies (Suspicions).
1981 - A Good Night to You Mr. Alexandre – TV Film. A tribute to the life and work of Greek author Alexandros Papadiamantis. It has been broadcast in numerous television stations abroad and has been bought by many museums. It has been broadcast in Greece 30 times.
1982 - Alaloum – Feature film. Box Office record. The most popular film in Greece the last 20 years.
1989 - Hush...Our Country is Sleeping – Television series. Thirteen 45 minute episodes. Highly acclaimed, it is considered the best TV series since the beginning of television broadcasting in Greece.
1990-1993 - Thus Spake the City – Thirteen film essays, 30 minutes each. Poets and Cities. It has been broadcast by many TV stations abroad and bought by many universities including Harvard University and Boston College in the United States. It has also been shown in numerous museums internationally. Best Photography Award for Nikos Smaragdis.
1996 - Cavafy – Feature film about the life of the Greek poet Cavafy. State award for Best Feature film as well as three more state awards. Two international awards for the score of Vangelis in the film festivals of Ghent, Belgium and Valencia, Spain. An official participation in the film festivals of Berlin, Toronto, London, Jerusalem, San Francisco as well as 50 more international film festivals. It was released in cinema theatres in Paris 9 years ago where it is still screened. A box office record in Greece. The Greek nomination for the 1997 European Film Awards.
1997 - Opera of the Shadows – Opera, directed by Yannis Smaragdis. Performed at the Athens Opera House.
1998 - I've Brought to Art – Forty 5 minute segments of cultural content for the Greek Television ET1.
2001 - Ta Haidemena Paidia – TV series. Eighteen 32 minute episodes for the Greek Television ET1. Best Actor Award for Sotiris Moustakas.
2003 - Christian Monuments – Documentary on Christian Monuments of Greece, with the participation of Archbishop of Greece. Participation in the Film Festival of Amsterdam.
2004 - Spyros Louis – A tribute on the first Greek modern Olympic Winner, Marathon runner Spiridon Louis (50’). First International Award Guirlande d’Honneur 2004 in the Sports Movies Festival in Milan, Italy.
2007 - El Greco - An International co-production (Greece, Spain, England, Hungary, Italy) about the life of Greek painter, El Greco (Doménicos Theotokópoulos). It is the most expensive co-production in the history of Greek cinematography. Vangelis composed the original soundtrack. Starring: new British actor Nick Ashdon, Greek actor Lakis Lazopoulos, Spanish actors Juan Diego Botto and Laia Marull and others.