The 11th annual L.A. Greek Film Festival got off to a good start – perhaps a little anti-climactic after the big 10th anniversary, but it has come on strong with over 50 movies, discussion panels, and a master class among other innovations. The opening movie was Amerika Square, a black comedy directed by Yannis Sakaridis with rueful love.
Amerika Square is where the director spent his childhood in Athens. One of the characters counts up how many foreigners are living now in what was a totally Greek neighborhood not so long ago. But this is not an anti-immigrant film; one of the more sympathetic characters is a Syrian who is desperate to make a life for himself and his young daughter. But it does show the breakdown of society and the anger of some of the Greek citizens towards the foreigners.
The successful festival concluded on Sunday with the screening of director Elina Psykou’s second features, Son of Sofia.
When asked about his feeling about this 11th anniversary festival, Artisitic Director Aris Katopodis said, “I’m very pleased about the festival. It attracts a lot of people and generates a lot of excitement. Our team has seen new blood coming, and the positive reaction from the audience is gratifying. We feel gratified about the future.”
One of the busiest persons in the yard of the Egyptian Theater was Andriana Petratos, the Executive Producer/Creative Director of L.A. Hellenic Radio (lahellenicradio.com). “I’ve interviewed over 35 people – filmmakers, actors, directors, sponsors, organizers, you name it!” she said. “But my personal highlight was speaking to Steven Bernstein, a producer/director who is one of the parties in the process of creating a film school and major movie studio on the island of Syros.” (Note: more about Steven Bernstein in a future column).
Andriana was also pleased to share some news. Her station was voted, for the second time, a preferred international music genre radio program of choice by “Stream Licensing”, which is the licensing service for the U.S. Her radio station also came in second place as a preferred station of choice on the internet. The company wrote: “We take pride in the selection of featured stations and you should too, as it is a great accomplishment and it stands as proof of your hard work and dedication to this craft and is recognized by your industry peers.”
“We also have a FREE smartphone/tablet app available through the APP store or GOOGLE Play just by searching for L.A. Hellenic Radio,” said Andriana. “That way you can be tuned in to us 24/7 on your phone, tablet and car. Our live program is every Tuesday 7-9:30 pm PT and includes, new song releases, chart countdowns, editorials, interviews with personalities from the world of the arts, letters and entertainment and is in both Greek and English!
“We are thrilled,” she said, “because it has been a very difficult road with very few sponsors and advertisers. Although everyone loves the idea of having a 24-hour Greek program based in California, it has been financially painful for us, with lots of personal and financial sacrifice. But we keep trying.”
“As far as the LAGFF was concerned,” added Andriana, “each and every interview and guest was special, but the talent that I spoke to from Greece really made my day(s) because it’s such a thrill seeing my compatriots branching out into Hollywood, receiving awards, realizing their dreams in the heart of the entertainment industry. Nevertheless, every second of the five-day festival for me is enchanting, literally, having Hollywood Boulevard decked out in Blue and White! It’s very moving for a Greek person, it really is!
And the Orpheus Award Goes To …
AMERIKA SQUARE (Best Feature), THE PATRIARCH’S ROOM (Best Documentary), PLAY (Van Vlahakis Best Short Film), BOY ON THE BRIDGE (Best Performance), and THE OTHER ME (Audience) received Orpheus Awards at the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival (LAGFF) closing ceremonies at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday, June 11, 2017.
Elina Psykou‘s SON OF SOFIA, Dim Papageorgiou and Alexandros Spathis‘ JANUS: REFUGEE PASSAGE TO EUROPE and Konstantina Kotzamani‘s LIMBO received Special Jury Awards for the feature, documentary, and short categories. Evangelia Andreadaki also received a Special Jury Award for her performance in SMAC.
Turkish filmmaker Hasan Serin and Greek filmmaker Thelyia Petrakis‘ BRAZIL received the International Project Discovery Forum (IPDF) Aegean Award and the Mediterranean Film Institute scholarship respectively for their feature film projects I WILL NO LONGER BE SOMEONE ELSE and BRAZIL. For more details, visit lagff.org
Email the author: Mavis Manus