He studied film direction in Greece and worked in more than 40 films as an assistant director. In 1965 he made his first short film The Thief (1965) and in 1967 his second short film, Jimmy the Tiger (1966) won many awards in several festivals. In 1972 he made his feature film debut, Anna's Engagement (1972) (Anna's Engagement), which won several wards in the Berlin Film Festival, London Film Festival and more. He spent six months in exile during the Greek junta in 1973. Then he made O megalos erotikos (The Great Love Songs) after Manos Hatzidakis's request about this documentary based on his music work.

In 1977 he directed the controversial political allegory Happy Day . In 1980 he directed _Eleftherios Venizelos: 1910-1927 (1980)_, a film based on the life of the Greek politician. In 1985 he directed Petrina hronia (Stone Years), a strong emotional drama in politically turbulent times based on a true story, which won a best actress award in the Venice Film Festival and was a great commercial success. In 1989 he directed The Striker with Number 9 (1988), a film about a soccer player.

In 1992 he directed _Isyhes meres tou Avgoustou_ (Quiet Days in August), which won a special mention in the Berlin Film Festival. In 1996 came _Akropol_ based on the Greek theatre of the 50s and then in 1997 he directed It's a long road.

Father of director/actor Alexander Voulgaris and director Constantina Voulgaris.