Greek Film Festival

Feature by Willard Manus

Greek film takes center stage in California this month, thanks to major film festivals in Los Angeles and San Francisco. A combined fifty features, documentaries and shorts by Greek filmmakers will be showcased at the two festivals, which will run June 6-12 in S.F., June 25-29 in L.A.

Although most of the festival films are the work of up-and-coming Greek film artists, several screenings of classic Greek films have been scheduled as well. The 2nd Annual L.A. fest will kick off with a showing of a newly re-mastered print of ZORBA THE GREEK at the Egyptian Theatre (6712 Hollywood Blvd). First released in 1964, the Michael Cacoyannis production (adapted from the famed novel by Nikos Kazantzakis) stars Anthony Quinn, Alan Bates and Irene Pappas.

The 5th Annual S.F. fest will pay tribute to director Jules Dassin (who died this past January at the age of 96) by mounting HE WHO MUST DIE, his adaptation of yet another Kazantzakis novel. The film will be shown as part of a double feature (with Chariton's Choir) on Sat. June 7th at the Delancey Street Theatre.

Other highlights of the two festivals include:

--A Tribute Night Gala to John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands on June 27th in L.A. The affair will honor Academy Award-nominated the late filmmaker John Cassavetes and Academy Award-nominated actress Gena Rowlands, who is confirmed to attend. The evening will commence with a panel discussion including Seymour Cassell, Phedon Papamichael Sr. and Al Ruban, with a screening of Cassavetes's FACES to follow.

--On Sat. morning June 28, LAGFF will host a screenwriting panel discussion headed by Christina Lazaridis (Columbia University professor and scenarist). Jury members Stratton Leopold (exec producer of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE III) and Kary Antholis (HBO) will discuss the winning script of the International Screenwriting Competition, with the prize to be awarded at the Closing Night Ceremonies. Orpheus Awards will also be given to the best new films in the dramatic, documentary and short-film categories.

--San Francisco's opening-night reception will take place on June 6, immediately following the screening of EPHEMERAL TOWN by Giorgos Zafiris. The film won several major prizes at the 2000 Thessaloniki International Film Festival.

The other features scheduled to be shown at SFGFF include: URANYA by Costas Kapakas, FALSE ALARM by Katerina Evangelakou, SOUL KICKING by Yannis Ikonomidis, PAREES by Sotiris Goritsas and THE GUARDIAN'S SON by Dimitris Koutsiabasakos.

Topping the list of features at LAGFF is LITTLE GREEK GODFATHER, an "existential comedy" about "Mediterranean cuisine, endangered porcupines and other mysteries." The script was co-written by director Olga Malea and Nicholas C. Papandreou, son of Greece's late Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou.

LITTLE GREEK GODFATHER is based on Nicholas Papandreou's first novel, A Crowded Heart, which was short-listed for the 1999 Los Angeles Times' First Fiction Award and was a runaway bestseller in Greece. The story deals with the young son of a famous Greek politician who is sent to Crete to baptize the child of a local party bigwig.

The SFGFF is sponsored by the Modern Greek Studies Foundation, the Center for Modern Greek Studies and the Nikos Kazantzakis Chair at S.F. State University. For tickets and information contact or call (415) 338-1892.

LAGFF can be reached at or (818) 728-0720. The co-directors are Angeliki Giannaopoulos and Ersi Danou.