The 11th Los Angeles Greek Film Festival (LAGFF) awarded its top prize – the ‘Best Feature’ Orpheus award – to Amerika Square, an ensemble drama depicting crisis-stricken Athens.

A commentary on the transformation of modern Greek society and the fragility of the social fabric, Amerika Square, directed by Yannis Sakaridis, has been making the rounds of film festivals since its release last year, gaining acclaim.

The LA festival has become a point of reference for the Greek diaspora cinematic community, given its ties to the US film industry. Although Sakaridis was not in attendance at the festival, present was one of the film’s stars, Vasilis Koukalani. As for the aforementioned ties of the festival to the broader cinema community, one can look no further for proof but to the recipient of the honorary ‘Orpheus’ award, acclaimed director Alexander Payne, one of the champions of the US independent film scene, whose latest feature Downsizing is released by Paramount Pictures.

“I love Alexander so much I went to Paramount just to be with him again,” joked the company’s chairman and CEO, Jim Gianopulos (formerly of Fox) Amerika Square was the LAGFF’s opening film.

Its closing film, Elina Psycou’s Son of Sofia is a drama about the current refugee wave of arrivals in Greece and received the runner-up Special Jury Prize for features.