Los Angeles -- And you just might think this is over the top...Holly Opa, it is. But this is a town where anything goes if you know how to market, package and present your image. The Los Angeles Greek Film Festival is no stranger to this marketing truism, returning right on the heels of the The Gabby's, the Chicago based celebration of the best and brightest (and the most financially influential) Greek Americans from the brain of marketing whiz kid Gregory Pappas, this year held in Hollywood at the famed Pantages Theater, brings together a seasoned line up of mature films that visually identify and communicate the current state of affairs in Greece and for that matter much of Europe. I had the distinguished pleasure earlier in the month to attend their annual luncheon unveiling this years film line up. Listed below is a film summary and links to their lineup page. Alex Kalognomos, this years Executive Festival Producer highlighted the fest's theme for 2013 "Cross Cultural Communication" by promoting Greek filmmakers through cultural exchange that bridge Hollywood with Greek movie makers This year's venue will be hosted at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills and the Real D Screening Room as well in Beverly Hills.
The jury for this year's film line-up includes many of the industry's top vets on both sides of the Atlantic. Get to know them by clicking on the link provided herein. Who knows you just may discover a bit of yourself in each and every one of these outstanding panelists.
Elizabeth Fotiadou, the Greek Consul General of Los Angeles aptly framed the sentiments of this year's theme by affirming her governments commitment in supporting the cinematic arts..."Cinema is an art."
She went further to list the financial and legislative efforts her government has made in the continuing effort to promote Greek filmmakers and their films through new laws that give producers better access to the country's historic antiquity treasures and legendary topography, streamlining the permit process and bureaucratic "red tape". An object lesson for Los Angeles law makers to duly note. She further commented on the establishment of an institutional infrastructure to educate, train and create better employment opportunities for the new crop of talented emerging filmmakers, both home and abroad.
It seems LAGFF has found a home in the latter by pioneering the efforts or importing the best of the best, part and parcel, with their creators from this lighthouse at the waters edge of Europe's southern most tip...a portal to the west and a window to the east, bridging cultures and political differences through the visual arts.
In keeping with the festivals mission, showcasing and networking, Aristotle Katepodis, LAGFF's 2013 Program Director outlined this year's line up, an amalgamation of over 30 films, that include a mixture of documentaries, features and shorts spread over a four day period.
Opening night's film "METEORA" is the story of an illicit love affair between a Greek Orthodox monk and a Russian Orthodox nun. The evening will also kick off a celebration of all things Greek that includes a dinner reception of Hellenic-California cuisine sponsored by Petros Restaurant, as well as wine tasting by Athenee Importers.
In addition, Kary Antholis, HBO's President of Miniseries & Cinemax Programming and LAGFF Advisory Board member will pay tribute to master director Elia Kazan's film masterpiece, the Oscar (R) winning biographical epic "AMERICA AMERICA", which incidentally you can screen on this web-zine in our Classical Page under the Movie Menu Screen.
Closing night's film 'MITSIGAN-HARSHIPS AND BEAUTIES" which recently screened at the 15th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, follow Mitsos "Mitsigan" Tsiganos, a modern day Greek cowboy, and empirical philosopher and the owner of one of the biggest farms in southwestern Greece, yes you got it, named what else but "Hardships & Beauties". As if a reflection of the protagonist's current circumstance, in a fit of hardship and beauty, a bitter sweet moment in an otherwise relatively successful middle class life so to speak. You will have to see the movie. I am not going to provide anyone with a spoiler alert. He takes a leave of absence from his farm to meet with old friends and new people. His road trip into the heart of Greece becomes a symbolic Quixotism, a metaphoric journey into a country trapped between ambivalence and uncertainty, that will never be the same again.
Finally LAGFF Programmer Araceli Lemos introduced a new initiative sponsored by Pabst Brewing Company and the Metropoulos Family, designed to encourage and help filmmakers of Greek and other Balkan descent with their new projects. Christened PROJECT DISCOVERY FORUM, a professional panel will critique and judge 5-8 finalist projects during a 20-minute, in-person presentation by the filmmakers themselves. The winning project will receive the $1,000 Aegean Award -- sponsored by the Metropoulos Family. An actual pitch meeting with industry execs. How cool is that?
Closing remarks from Craig Praeter who returns as this year's Executive Director said, "Last year LAGFF experienced a 20 percent increase in attendance, selling out many of the screenings. We are already exceeding our 2012 GOLD PASS sales and anticipate reaching our allotment in sales for the popular all-access pass prior to the start of the festival on June 6. We are overwhelmed at the enthusiastic response we are receiving from cinema fans outside of the LA basin. We cannot wait to welcome our festival fans and newcomers on June 6."
WE STAND ALONE: NEW GREEK film line-up stand on the threshold of universal change. Greeks are among the reluctant players of this wave, just as they have often been in the past when the turning forces destroyed traditions, broke down customs, and brought about new institutions and ideas. But those who are caught in the torrents of the times are called to step away from the known and the usual – and respond. Necessity, violence, suffering – they move the artists of the world not only to reveal the truth of what has gone wrong and why, but also to act as beacons of hope for what may go right.
Greek filmmakers from Greece, Cyprus and the world – their aesthetic antennae vibrating in sync with the living forces of the here and now – challenge us to look beyond our familiar horizon into the age of the future.
USA, 1963, 174 min
Elia Kazan Tribute presented by Kary Antholis and Cinemax
Director/Writer: Elia Kazan
Cast: Stathis Giallelis, Frank Wolff, Harry Davis, Elena Karam
At the end of the 19th century in a small village in Turkey, when oppression against the Greek minority increases, a father, plotting his family’s escape, sends his young son to Constantinople to make money and get the family to join him. But the son’s own dream is different: America…
*1964 Academy-Award winner, Best Art Direction (B&W)
*1964 Academy-Award nominations for: Best Director, Best Picture, Best Writing, Story and Screenplay – Elia Kazan
A.C.A.B. (ALL CATS ARE BRILLIANT) – (Sygharitiria stous Aisiodoxous)
Greece, 2012, 83 min, US Premiere
Director/Writer: Constantina Voulgaris
Producer: Eleni Afentaki
Production Companies: Greek Film Centre, MITOS, ERT
Cast: Maria Georgiadou, Kostas Ganotis, Dimitris Xanthopoulos, Themis Bazaka, Dimitris Piatas, Alexis Charisis-Maerki
A young woman living in Athens tries to find herself amidst the demands of her boyfriend, who has a radical political agenda, and her parents, whose only hope is that their daughter begins a career. In the meantime, a tender relationship develops between her and an eight-year-old friend.
BOY EATING THE BIRD’S FOOD (To Agori Troei to Fagito tou Pouliou)
Greece, 2012, 80 min, LA Premiere
Director/Writer/Producer: Ektoras Lygizos
Production Companies: Stefi Productions, Guanaco
Cast: Yannis Papadopoulos, Lila Baklesi, Kleopatra Perraki
A personal take on Knut Hamsun’s classic 1890 novel “Hunger to the Modern Day” follows a young man desperately trying to preserve his sense of dignity and overcome demoralizing hunger and loneliness in the streets of Athens.
*2012 Karlovy Vary Int’l Film Festival, Special Mention for Yannis Papadopoulos
*2012 Toronto Int’l Film Festival, Association Quebecoise des Critiques de Cinéma Award
*2013 Crossing Europe Linz, Crossing Europe Award – European Competition
*2013 Hellenic Film Academy, Best Film, Best New Director, Best Actor,
South Africa/Greece/USA, 2012, 96 min, LA Premiere
Director: Harry Patramanis
Writers: Jonathan Kyle Glatzer, Harry Patramanis
Producers: Eleni Asvesta, Stefanos Fotiadis, Marios Fotiadis, Philip Key
Cast: Warrick Grier, Jessica Haines, Susan Danford, Sthandiwe Kgoroge, Cara Roberts, John Herbert, Chad Philips
On a lavish and remote property in South Africa, within the walls of a glass house, six lives intersect and lay bare their secrets in this twisting drama.
*2013 Berlin Int’l Film Festival, Official Selection
*2013 Slamdance Film Festival, Kodak Vision Award for Best Cinematography
*Durban International Film Festival
Germany/Greece/France, 2012, 85 min, US Premiere
Opening Night Presentation
Director: Spiros Stathoulopoulos
Writers: Asimakis Pagidas, Spiros Stathoulopoulos
Producers: Philippe Bobber, Susanne Marian, Spiros Stathoulopoulos, Asimakis Pagidas, Theo Alexander, Yolanda Markopoulou
Cast: Theo Alexander, Tamilla Koulieva
In the plains of central Greece, Byzantine monasteries are perched atop sandstone pillars, suspended between heaven and earth. A young Greek monk and a Russian nun have devoted their lives to the strict rituals and practices of their community, but a growing affection for one another puts their monastic life under question. Torn between spiritual devotion and their human desire, they must decide which path to follow.
*2013 Berlin Int’l Film Festival, Official Selection
THE DAUGHTER (I Kori)
Greece/Italy, 2012, 87 min, LA Premiere
Director: Thanos Anastopoulos
Writers: Thanos Anastopoulos, Vassilis Giatsis
Producers: Fantasia LTD, Mansarda Production
Cast: Myrto Alimani, Aggelos Papadimas Father Symeonidis, Ieronymos Kaletsanos, Ornela Kapetani, Theodora Tzimou
When a 14-year-old girl finds out that her father has fled to avoid his debts, she kidnaps the 8-year-old son of her father’s business partner. The Greek economic crisis touches and changes forever many facets of the family’s nucleus. How will the new generation react? How is it reacting?
*2013 Berlin International Film Festival, Forum Screening
*2013 Hellenic Film Academy Awards, Best Directing, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography
WELCOME TO ALL SAINTS (Ap ta Kokkala Vgalmena)
Greece, 2011, 88 min, LA Premiere
Director: Sotoris Goritsas
Producer: Constantinos Moriatis
Cast: Argiris Xafis, Dimitris Immelos, Anna Kufsaftiki, Kostas Berikopoulos, Minas Xatzisavvas, Giorgos Simeonidis, Dimitri Xanthopoulos, Vangelis Mourikis
A young medical intern begins his career at the “All Saints Hospital” in Athens, only to discover that everyone who works in the Greek public sector is part of a monstrous bureaucracy and an absurd tragicomedy.
AMNESIA DIARIES (Imerologio Amnesias)
Greece, 2012, 105 min, US Premiere
Director/Writer/Cinematographer: Stella Theodorakis
Producers: Stella Theodorakis, Thanos Anastopoulos
The filmmaker reflects upon her leisurely past and frantic present, gradually coming to a realization that concerns each and every one of us, just as intimately as it does her.
*2013 Hellenic Film Academy Awards, Best Documentary
FOOD FOR LOVE
Greece, 2013, 52 min, US Premiere
Director: Marianna Economou
Producer: Lilette Botassi
Some Greek mothers show their love by regularly preparing veritable feasts for their children, who attend university some distance away from home.
Greece, 2013, 52 min, US Premiere
Director: Nikos Dayandas
Writers: Nikos Dayandas, Yuri Averof
Producers: Rea Apostolides, Yuri Averof
A 35-year-old unemployed Athenian settles on the remote island of Ikaria. There, he discovers a society with a unique culture based on autonomy and cooperation, and blessed with peace and exceptional longevity.
*2013 Thessaloniki International Documentary Film Festival: WWF Award, ERT3 Broadcast Award
MITSIGAN – HARDSHIPS & BEAUTIES (Mitsigan – Omorfies & Dyskolies)
Greece/France, 2013, 60 min, US Premiere
Closing Night Presentation
Director/Writer: Kimon Tsakiris
Producers: Christos V. Konstantakopoulos, Kimon Tsakiris
When Mitsos Tsiganos, nicknamed “Mitsigan”, a modern-day Greek cowboy and owner of “Hardships & Beauties” vegetable farm, is struck by both professional and personal crisis, he decides to go on a short road trip in search of signs of hope.
ONE STEP AHEAD (Ena Vima Brosta)
Greece, 2012, 126 min, US Premiere
Director: Dimitris Athiridis
Producers: Maria Drandraki, Dimitris Athiridis
Yiannis Boutaris, a successful winemaker and the maverick mayoral candidate for Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, faces his enemies within and without with equal courage and uncompromising honesty.
*2012 IDFA, Official Selection
THEY GLOW IN THE DARK (Lampoun sto Skotadi)
Greece, 2013, 69 min, US Premiere
Director/Writer/Cinematography: Panagiotis Evangelidis
Producers: Amanda Livanou, Panagiotis Evangelidis
Two HIV-positive middle-aged gay friends barely make a living in post-Katrina New Orleans by selling hand-made figures of the Cajun pantheon. Their extravagant past lives fade before their present commitment to survive together until death do them part.
*15th Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival, Fipresci Prize
Cyprus, 2012, 15 min, US Premiere
Director/Writer/Producer: Stylianos Constantinou
Cast: Antonis Katsaris, Zoe Wintershaussen
Precise and meticulous, the embalmer begins preparing a body. But the job he has been serving for so many years has something in store for him, something out of order.
*2012 Rome International Film Festival
Greece, 2012, 15 min, US Premiere
Director/Writer/Producer: Georgis Grigorakis
Cast: Stelios Xanthoudakis, Giannis Tsortekis, Eleytheria Komi, Bakar Albakar
Athens, August 2012. 45 degrees. It’s getting dark, but the city is still in the grip of the relentless heat – and so is a family that finds itself between a rock and a hard place.
USA, 2013, 38 min, World Premiere
Director/Producer: Chris Emmanouilides
Documentary essay inspired by a family trip to Greece, reflecting on the end of traditional photography and the birth of the digital universe.
CAVO D’ ORO
Greece, 2012, 28 min, US Premiere
Director/Writer: Siamak Etemadi
Producers: Siamak Etemadi, Elina Fessa
Cast: Kiriakos Hadjiioannou, Elena Mengreli
A love story of two strangers who meet by chance, on a barren, isolated beach, and develop a brief but extreme relationship driven by lust, fear and anger.
*65th Locarno International Film Festival, Official Selection
Greece, 2012, 15 min, US Premiere
Director/Writer: Neritan Zinxhiria
Producers: Yorgos Lykiardopoulos, Bujar Alimani, Neritan Zinxhiria, ERT
Cast: Yota Chatzioannou, Fotis Armenis
A strong-willed old woman, her stubborn mule, and a soulless body. She is alone against the harsh elements of the northern Greek winter, and the cycle of life.
*2012 Athens International Film Festival, Golden Athena – Best Short Film
*2012 Drama International Short Film Festival, Golden Dionysus – Best Short Film, Best South and Eastern Europe Film, Greek Union of Film Critics Award
*2012 FilmFest Dresden, Golden Horseman Fiction
* 2013 Hellenic Film Academy, Best Short Film
Canada, 2013, 30 min, US Premiere
Directors: Peter James, Philippos Balabanos
Writers: Philippos Balabanos, Peter James
Executive Producers: Angelis Sarbanis, Gregory C. Pappas
Cast: Constantine Kourtidis, Leonidas Pappas, Peter James, Karine Dashney
The leader of the Montreal chapter of the ultranationalist Golden Dawn is on the hunt, and the only obstacle in his way will turn out to be a man just like himself.
Greece, 2012, 18 min, US Premiere
Director/Writer/Producer: Gregory Rentis
Executive Producer: Maria Tsiga
Cast: Yannis Stankoglou, Alexis Danezis, Katia Goulioni, Giorgos Symeonidis
A 10-year-old boy has to trick his estranged father into discovering their bond.
EXIT K1 (Exodos K!)
Greece, 2012, 15 min, US Premiere
Director/Writer/Producer: Janis Rafailidou
Cast: Irfan Mouhamad Arif, Takis Spiridakis
An off-road journey into the world of clandestine immigrants in the suburbs of Athens, where nostalgia takes the form of decorated pigeons.
Greece, 2013, 6 min, World Premiere
Director/Writer/Producer: Manos Gerogiannis and Yannis Zoumakis
Aloof witnesses or protective observers, the giant Jachalays stand by humanity in a time of dissent towards something not yet understood.
Australia, 2012, 17 min, World Premiere
Director/Writer: John Evagora
Producer: Polly Staniford
Cast: Steve Mouzakis, Anthony Taufa, Claudio Carelli, Katerina Kotsonis
He steals, he sells, he scores. Day in, day out. But today is a special day.
Greece, 2012, 11 min, US Premiere
Director/Writer: Christos Nikou
Producers: Iraklis Mavroidis, Angelos Venetis
Cast: Evi Saoulidou, Aris Servetalis
Stuck in a car, a couple seems to experience the intense end of their relationship.
MIGUEL ALVAREZ WEARS A WIG
Mexico/USA, 2012, 16 min
Director/Writer: Araceli Lemos
Producer: Giulia Caruso
Cast: Felipe Cortes, Jose A. Solorio, Maria Carlton, Eva Walker, Pasqual Torres
In the Mexican border town of Tijuana, a man is faced with having to cross to the ultimate other side: He has cancer.
*Tampere Int’l Film Festival, Official Selection
*Rio de Janeiro Int’l Short Film Festival (A New America), Official Selection
ONE TOWN, ONE TEAM, MY TEAM – PLATANIAS (Mia Polis, Mia Omada, i Omada mou)
Greece, 2013, 16 min, World Premiere
Director/Writer: Lakis Matthiopoulos
Producer: Lakis Matthiopoulos, Takis Dimopoulos
History and dreams, reality and wishes, joys and sorrows of a town and its soccer team, Platanias, in Chania, Crete.
OUT OF FRAME (Titloi Telous)
Greece, 2012, 10 min, US Premiere
Director/Writer: Giorgos Zois
Producers: Giorgos Zois, Maria Drandaki
In Greece, billboard advertisement has been outlawed. There are hundreds of blank billboards going to waste. But the empty frames are now the message. And we are out of frame.
*69th Venice Film Festival (2012), European Film Award
Sweden, 2013, 14 min, US Premiere
Director/Writer: Nicolas Kolovos
Producer: Olle Wirenhead, Helena Wirenhead
Cast: Nina Zanjani, Johan Friberg, Anna Persson, Angelina Liljekvist
A red Porsche, a fashionable mom and a toddler. Place them all in a parking lot, apply a degree of rush and watch the story unfold, while you wish for more.
SANTA WHO? (Poios Vassilis?)
Greece, 2011, 24 min, World Premiere
Director/Adaptation: Dimitris Moutsiakas
Producer: Dimitris Spyrou
Cast: Dimitris Bikiropoulos, Charis Fragoulis, Andreas Konstandinou, Dimitra Trikka
On a Christmas Eve, an old barber and a little girl encounter a dangerous Santa…
Greece, 2012, 19 min, US Premiere
Director/Writer/Producer: Konstantinos Karamaghiolis
Cast: Manos Vakousis, Elias Moulas, Euthimis Zisakis, Alexandros Chrysanthopoulos
A youth flirting with becoming a member of a fascist group, experiences a reality check.
THE LITTLE PALACE OF AORIA (To Palataki ton Aorion)
Greece, 2013, 24min, World Premiere
Director/Producer: Vassilis Panagiotakopoulos
Over the last two decades, a ghost town in the Cretan mountains is restored and turned into a bustling village through the locals’ solidarity and self-determination.
Greece, 2012, 20min, US Premiere
Director/Writer/Producer: Leonardo Cariglino
Production Company: Motel de Ville
Cast: Stella Ermi, Xaralambos Devetzis, Paulos Melikidis, Efi Bairaktaridou
A young woman’s hectic day is just another expression of her mental “traffic” and mounting anxiety.
Greece, 2011, 5 min, US Premiere
Directors: Nikos Branidis, Yiannis Bougioukas
Writer: Kathrin Freytag
Producer: Yiannis Bougioukas
Cast: Kathrin Freytag, Nikos Branidis
Life happens within the four walls of a tiny bathroom.
Greece, 2012, 6 min, US premiere
Director/Writer/Producer: Salvador Georgantas
Cast: Argiris Thanasoulas, George Krasadakis, Spiridon Milionis, Vangelis Fotinakis
A guy’s unfortunate resemblance to an infamous politician results in a farcical chase through the streets of Athens.
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