He studied law in Athens but after military service he went to Paris to attend the Sorbonne. He soon dropped out to study film at the IDHEC before returning to Greece. Back home he worked as a journalist and film critic until the coup.
He made his first short film in 1968 and went on in the 1970s to make long films concerned with modern Greece - Meres Tou 36, O Thiassos and I Kynighoi. He quickly established a characteristic style, marked by slow, episodic and ambiguous structure and long, "sequence shot" takes. He moved into less political works after the end of the dictatorship, gaining Italian funding.