This year’s Greek Film Festival welcomed over 11,000 film fans nationwide, celebrating the latest and greatest Greek films.

The festival saw an increase in attendance compared to other years, with organiser Penny Kyprianou saying it was one of the “stronger years” for the festival.

“People were certainly taking quite a few risks on the [Melbourne] program, out of the whole festival we only had one comedy and yet we were still able to sell out many sessions,” Kyprianou told Neos Kosmos.

She said people were “very open” to the program and the main feedback had been about adding more cinema venues or extending the festival.

To mark the end of another successful film festival, audiences were treated to an encore screening of Manousos Manousakis’s Cloudy Sunday which shares the story of Thessaloniki’s Jewish community during World War II and the tumultuous relationship between a Christian man and a Jewish woman.

The festival screened an eclectic range of films including crowd favourite Roza of Smyrna, described as the ‘Greco-Turkish Romeo and Juliet’ from award-winning writer Christina Lazaridi, who was also nominated for an Academy Award for her short film One Day Crossing. The heart-clenching drama follows a love story during the turbulent Greek and Turkish relations of the 20th century.

The documentary Trezoros: the Lost Jews of Kastoria shared the life and times of Sephardic Jews during the Nazi occupation of Kastoria following the complete decimation of the Jewish community, leaving 35 Jewish survivors from a total of 900.

Also welcomed was the Greek Australian Short Film Festival, with the prize for most exceptional film awarded to Jamieson Pearce for his film Adult, an adaptation of award-winning Greek Australian author Christos Tsiolkas’s story Porn 1.

This year’s Greek Student Film Competition focused on interpreting the theme ‘only the children know what they are looking for’ – a quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince.

Fifteen entries were received from schools across Victoria as well as New South Wales, with the first prize for the Primary category going to Clemton Park for their film Η Αναζήτηση (The Search). First prize for the Secondary category was from the Greek Community of Melbourne’s Language and Culture School’s Alphington Campus for Κάνε μία ευχή (Make a Wish).

For next year, Kyprianou said organisers have been keeping an eye on the films that are close to completion for 2018 including titles from the
Thessaloniki International Film Festival that could be brought to Melbourne and Australia.

This year missed out on a retrospective but audiences may be lucky to see one on screen for next year’s festival.