The Delphi Bank 23rd Greek Film Festival kicked off on Wednesday in the presence of hundreds of community members and representatives with the much-awaited Australian premiere of the film Worlds Apart.
The Melbourne opening night gala took place at The Astor Theatre in St Kilda, where audience and esteemed guests were welcomed with canapes and ouzo cocktails from the team at Bahari Restaurant.
Penny Kyprianou, Greek Centre for Contemporary Culture’s programs manager, took to the stage before the screening to guide us through the long and ever-evolving history of the Greek Film Festival and to announce this year’s speakers.
Greek Community of Melbourne and Victoria president Bill Papastergiadis noted that “the festival is a cultural product that I believe truly reflects our organisation the GCM”.
“It’s fresh. It’s global. It’s exciting. It’s relevant. And why is this film festival all of these things?” he asked. “Because each year we get to experience a world far removed from ours – warts and all.”
The festival, the president continued, is an open door to Greece and also a window into the Greek Australian reality.
“We have here a festival which speaks to us on so many other levels about our lives as Greek Australians,” he said.
“So for two weeks, let’s all lose ourselves and also perhaps in this process, refind ourselves. It’s a journey. And as Greeks we are good at journeys. Just ask Homer about Odysseus; ‘journeys of epic proportions’ are very Greek.”
Greek ambassador to Australia Mrs Ekaterini Xagorari and Marina Hrysoveloni, Greece’s Deputy Minister of Infrastructure, Transport and Network, both thanked the Greek Australian community for its efforts in promoting Greek culture and the arts.
Acclaimed actor and director Christopher Papakaliatis’ film, starring Academy Award winner J.K. Simmons, kept the theatre engaged, and moved the Astor Theatre audience so deeply many of the guests left crying.
Set in modern-day Greece, the movie tells three separate love stories, each between a Greek and a foreigner. The narratives represent a different generation falling in love during the European crisis, which eventually connect to a single, confronting and relevant story depicting Greece’s modern reality.
Famous Greek actor Giannis Aivazis from Dream of a Shadow and Nikita Ballas also made their appearance on the red carpet alongside GASFF Co-curator and actor Katerina Kotsonis and filmmaker Luka Lesson. David Parker from Cascade Films, Helen Marcou from Bakehouse Studios and directors Ana Kokkinos and Alkinos Tsilimidos were present too.
Following the screening, the Greek Film Festival’s committee had arranged a buffet with Greek wines, beers and delicious desserts.
The special opening session celebration for Worlds Apart, which took place on the same night at Palace Cinema Como, was also sold out.
Featuring a selection of the latest features, documentaries and shorts made in Greece or directed by Greek Australian filmmakers, the festival offers a proud survey of contemporary Greek films. The Delphi Bank 23rd Greek Film Festival this year runs until 23 October, 2016 at Palace Cinema Como and The Astor in Melbourne, and also travels to Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra and Brisbane.
To find out more about sessions and book your tickets go to www.greekfilmfestival.com.au