From the award-winning Miss Violence to Oscar entry Little England, this year’s Delphi Bank Greek Film Festival is set to meet the expectations of even the most demanding cinephiles.
Taking off in Sydney on 14 October and in Melbourne on 15 October, the two-week festival will feature Greek cinema with a program that handles Greek family tragedies, carefully crafted dramas and tense thrillers with a strong, resilient hand.
Not that Greek cinematography has simply walked away from dealing with the crisis and its effects – prominent players in Greek movie productions in the past few years. It’s just that the crisis angle has now shifted to its effects on couples, families, with the festival featuring a number of movies that provide weight to the nature of changing relationships and confusion that comes with new beginnings.
This year’s festival program, now in its 21st edition, will showcase 18 feature films, four documentaries and 18 short films.
“For the last three years, we’ve set out searching for films quite nervously, concerned that maybe our program will compromise. However, the result has been impressive, with a strong list of films that will give audiences much more than a sample of current Greek and European life,” festival director Penny Kyprianou tells Neos Kosmos.
With Greek cinematography heavily influenced by the crisis in previous years, Kyprianou says the economic situation continues to have a dramatic effect on films produced in Greece.
The focus on economic climate is inevitable, but with a shift in storytelling.
“There is certainly still a focus on the economic climate and it’s inevitable that the effects of that will make its way into current Greek filmmaking. What we are beginning to see, however, is a shift in storytelling that includes the effect of the crisis on personal relationships, and more importantly, how it has been affecting relationships.
“This topic is captured beautifully in the documentary Love in the Time of Crisis, directed by Theopi Skarlatos and Kostas Kallergis, which looks in great detail at the catastrophic impacts of this crisis on relationships,” Kyprianou says.
With a throng of accolades to its name already, it will be Greece’s Oscar entry Little England that will kick off the Delphi Bank 21st Greek Film Festival at Palace Cinemas with a fusion of passion and timeless feelings of separation and loneliness. Directed by Greek veteran filmmaker Pantelis Voulgaris, the film will feature a second time with the 10th anniversary screening of one of his most successful movies, Brides (2004).
“A stunning period drama about love and betrayal set on the Greek island of Andros, the movie was the winner of Best Film and Best Cinematography at the Hellenic Film Academy Awards, and also Greece’s entry for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars.
“We are also fortunate to have secured the attendance of the film’s lead actor Andreas Constantinou and producer Giannis Iakovidis, who will join in opening night festivities in Sydney and Melbourne,” tells Penny Kyprianou.
“It is also the 10th anniversary of Voulgaris’ Brides, which opened the Greek Film Festival in 2005. On the occasion of the film’s anniversary we’ll be re-screening the film on the original 35mm print format.”
With a repertoire divided between feature films, documentaries and short films, every niche audience will find its own sessions of interest at the 21st Greek Film Festival.
Following its great reception at this year’s Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard strand, Panos H. Koutras’ queer road drama Xenia delves deeply into patriarchy, homosexuality and immigrant rights, affording this film the opportunity to strike a chord with both Australian and Greek audiences.
For those following Greek New Wave cinema, joining the list of award winning films is Miss Violence, a gruesomely disturbing tale of domestic and sexual abuse that swept this year’s Hellenic Film Academy Awards and won the Silver Lion for Best Director at the Venice Film Festival. Providing an implicit criticism of Greek society, Alexandros Avranas’ Miss Violence tracks slowly while viewers uncover the rotten core that reveals the causes of a young girl’s suicide.
Film noir hit-man thriller Stratos, the fourth feature from Yannis Economides, is a perversely lingering study of moral and spiritual decay in recession-era Greece told through the eyes of a brooding hired killer.
Wrapping up in true Grecian style, the closing night film Promakhos takes viewers on a journey to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece and bring justice to Athena. The movie, co-directed by Coerte Voorhees and John Voorhees, caps off the festival with an epic love story about the test of true love through sacrifice.
Returning as part of the 21st Greek Film Festival will be the Greek Australian Short Film Festival, now in its fifth year. For the first time, the program of the Short Film Festival will expand to include a session dedicated to international short films from Greece and beyond. Filmmakers will compete for Best Short Film prizes in local and international categories.
“The Greek Film Festival has for many years included a small selection of local and international short films. In 2013 we joined forces with the Greek Australian Short Film Festival, which already had a strong following, and decided to position the shorts program under the larger Greek Film Festival program. This year the program had expanded to include an international focus, and both sections will be competing for the top short film award. The short film program would not have been possible without the work of Stella Dimadis, Katerina Kotsonis and Jim Koutsoukos,” Kyprianou says.
With four movies in its documentaries sub-section, the festival will feature Evaporating Borders, which presents a new way of thinking about the impact of immigration and sees emerging documentary filmmaker Iva Radivojevic expose Cyprus’ too often ignored refugee crisis.
The documentary Following Shira’s Journey: A Greek Jewish Odyssey will shine a light on the thriving Jewish communities in Greece prior to World War II; while Love In The Time of Crisis investigates whether intimacy can act as a sufficient escape during calamitous times of political and economic crisis.
The Other Human looks at local hero Konstantinos Polychronopoulos and his soup kitchen, which has become a symbol of solidarity in crisis-ridden Athens.
Two more documentaries will be screened in Sydney – Playing With Fire elucidates the stark truth for women’s affairs and rights in Afghanistan through director Anneta Papathanasiou; while Time for Heroes highlights a Washington DC-based journalist whose struggle has seen him take a place in history as the only man who has dared sue the CIA.
Festival director Penny Kyprianou says that this year the festival won’t be short of Greek Australian movies, with the movie Following Shira’s Journey: A Greek Jewish Odyssey having its world premiere at the festival and the Australian program of short movies full of works by local filmmakers.
“Directed by Carol Gordon and Natalie Cunningham, this new documentary shines a light on the relatively ignored history of the Greek Jews prior to World War II, also featuring extensive interviews with Holocaust survivors.
“Sotiris Dounoukos’ French production A Single Body, which recently won Best Short at the Toronto International Film Festival, will screen in the International Shorts program. Additionally, the Australian program of shorts is full of award-winning shorts by local filmmakers that have screened at various prestigious film festivals. Look out for Maiden, Stephen Kanaris’ story of a battling greyhound trainer in 1970s Brisbane, By This River, Melissa Anastasi’s adaptation of a Christos Tsiolkas short story, and Shabd, Tony Nikolakopoulos’ hilarious story of an Indian Australian guy who gets himself into a sticky situation when his parents try to arrange his marriage.”
The 21st Delphi Bank Greek Film Festival is on in Sydney, 14 October to 2 November, at Palace Norton Street, 99 Norton St, Leichhardt, and in Melbourne from 15 October to 2 November at Palace Cinema Como, 299 Toorak Road, South Yarra. For more information about the festival go to www.greekfilmfestival.com.au
To book your tickets visit palacecinemas.com.au