The New Greek Americans 1960-2018 Makes its Debut
By Giuliana Harris
On May 5, 2019, the Greek Heritage Society of Southern California (GHS) premiered its long-awaited film The New Greek Americans 1960-2018in Beverly Hills, CA. This film serves as Part III in a trilogy which first premiered in 2002 with The Pioneers 1900-1942, and Part II premiering in 2009: The Promise of Tomorrow 1940-1960. Held at the Writer’s Guild Theater, the event was sold-out and enjoyed by many members of the Greek-American Community at large.
At the premiere event, Angelo Tsarouchas, Greek-Canadian comedian and actor, filled the role of Master of Ceremonies. In speaking, he shared his personal experience of becoming a “New Greek-American.” Other speakers who took the stage included Greek Heritage Society of Southern California’s Founder, Zoye Marino Fidler, in which she spoke about the beginnings of GHS and GHS’ Oral History Project. Shelly Papadopoulos, the President of GHS and Executive Producer of the film, introduced the Board and expressed thanks to the Board, Production Team, and the Premiere Committee for their commitment to the project. Also present to speak, were Producer Antonia Lianos and Director and Writer of the film Anna Giannotis.
The New Greek Americans 1960-2018 beautifully celebrates how those of Greek descent in America view themselves by way of identifying with their heritage. The film is narrated and hosted by Olympia Dukakis (Academy Award Winner of Best Supporting Actress in 1987 for Moonstruck), and is interspersed with personal oral histories and narratives where various interviewees of Greek descent recount their personal experiences and stories. Interviews featured all generations, and many from varying professions, including but not limited to: branches of the Military, prominent professional/entrepreneurial leaders, community members, and celebrities/entertainment industry professionals.
The first film in the trilogy, The Pioneers 1900-1942 had a major focus on the assimilation process into America by those who emigrated from Greece to America. The second film, The Promise of Tomorrow 1940-1960 detailed the duality of the first generation of Greek descent to be born in America (Executive Producer and GHS President Shelly Papadopoulos eloquently shares more on this in her interview in this Edition of The HJ). The third film, The New Greek-Americans 1960-2018, further details how the culture and traditions are practiced and moved forward with the current generation – which encompasses many of the 2nd and 3rd generation, as well as the 1st generation.
The beauty of The New Greek Americans 1960-2018 is how the present generations continue the traditions and customs of their Greek Heritage. The film excellently details various organizations which were founded upon the ideologies of celebrating and continuing the Greek Culture as well as the many ministries of the Greek Orthodox Church that also promote the values of the Greek Heritage. This encompassing Camps, Folk Dancing, Greek School, and more.
Interviewees shared their personal memories against the respective historical era, providing historical context as a tapestry woven through. In service to the U.S., there was a wonderful exhibition of various generations who have served in the Military. This was a great continuation from the first two films where World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Balkan War, and the Civil War in Greece were all discussed. In The New Greek Americans 1960-2018, the Veterans also discussed their roles and works in the service. The Veterans spanned all ages and some shared personal memories of how their culture and faith accompanied them along the way, especially when they were far from their homes and communities.
Another case of personal narrative and historical context together, came in the form of a nice segment of the Olympics returning to Athens in 2004. There was a great round of discussion of history, the significance of the Olympics going back to Greece, and athletics as a whole in the community. Within this it featured spoken commentary from Stella Sampras Webster, Valorie Kondos Field, Dimitra Korri, and Nicholas Scarvelis, to name a few. Adding to this, there was a great juxtaposition of featuring Olympic Athlete of Greek Descent Pete Clentzos, who was a part of The Olympics in the early 1930s. It was a stand-out moment to highlight athletes of all generations alongside the ancient legacy of the Olympic Games.
Another highlight of the film included seeing the overall love for and dedication to the Greek Culture, especially the moving segment where community members discussed the preservation of their names. As a viewer of the film that is of Greek Descent, I couldn’t help but to continuously relate to the many voices of the film in the passion for the culture, the honoring of traditions, and the reverence for our ancestors who came to the U.S. from Greece and held onto the customs of the patrida.
The overarching theme was how Greek-Americans identify with their culture and heritage today. Through this, the interviews included all ages, and what was especially touching was the children and grandchildren of the 1st Generation Greeks. Whether one was born with full Greek descent, half, or a quarter, The New Greek Americans 1960-2018 exemplifies how the love of our culture is so profound. Seeing the youth that were interviewed in the film speak the Greek Language so fluently, or performing a folk dance with such style and sharpness, it is clear that the flame, or floga, as they discuss in the films, is truly burning bright.
Upcoming Screenings of The New Greek Americans 1960-2018 will take place on October 22, 2019 at the New York City Greek Film Festival (official entry) in New York, NY, November 2, 2019 at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA and November 17, 2019 at the St. Demetrios Culturual Center in Seattle, WA. Stay tuned for a screening in Spring 2020 in the Bay Area, CA and additional screenings.
For more information, please visit greekheritagesociety.org
Follow the Greek Heritage Society of Southern California on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/greekheritage.societysoutherncalifornia/
*Featured Image on Home Page: GHS Board (L to R): Jim Dimitriou, Christina Bogdanou, Antonia Lianos (producer), Shelly Papadopoulos (GHS president/executive producer), Zoye Marino Fidler (executive producer/founder), George Spanos, Anna Giannotis (director/writer), Bessie Lazaris and Helen Ellis [Photo Credit: Zoi Palla]
Email the author: Giuliana