Wrap-up of the 17th Los Angeles Greek Film Festival: THI promotes Greek filmmaking

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Wrap-up of the 17th Los Angeles Greek Film Festival: THI promotes Greek filmmakingGreece has seen a plethora of new productions that have taken advantage of the generous government film incentives, with the demand for new productions to film in Greece continuing to grow

The 17th edition of the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival (LAGFF) featured some exceptional motion pictures and documentaries, a Masterclass for aspiring filmmakers by George Pelecanos, a workshop discussing guidelines for filmmakers interested in exploring international markets by entertainment attorney Carol T. Contes, and a panel discussion with cinematographers working primarily in Greece to compare working conditions with their American colleagues.

However, the groundbreaking event of the 17th LAGFF was a new collaboration between The Hellenic Initiative (THI) and the Global Greek Film Initiative (GGFI) that will literally bring Hollywood industry professionals to Greece! The importance of this partnership is that the newly-established GGFI is now associated with THI, one of the most respected Greek-American organizations with a successful track record of accomplishments, and THI now has access to the Hollywood entertainment industry via the well-established relationships that the LAGFF has built over the last 17 years.

Lia Bozonelis and Ersi Danou, Co-Founders of GGFI, drafted the two proposals and pitched them to the THI Executive Committee members. In my conversation with Tina Courpas, the Executive Director of THI, she said that the grant proposals fit exactly with THI’s mission of economic development in Greece and that the grants will provide essential training to Greek film industry professionals.

Greece has seen a plethora of new productions that have taken advantage of the generous government film incentives, with the demand for new productions to film in Greece continuing to grow. The first grant that THI will fund is worth $20,000 and it is for an Athens-based crew training that will take place in 2023. The 80-hour crew training workshops will qualify participants to work in international productions as grips. The second grant, also worth $20,000, will bring U.S. experts to Greece to train Greek filmmakers in 2023.

Discovery Days is an expansion of a program that the LAGFF has run in LA for the past nine years but now for the first time with THI’s funding, the program will be brought directly to Greece and Hollywood professionals will mentor Greek filmmakers to refine and develop their scripts. GGFI will partner with acclaimed Faliro House Oxbelly’s filmmaking educational institute in this effort.

GGFI Co-Founder Lia Bozonelis in her statement regarding the partnership said, ‘’Our organization has long admired THI’s mission to invest in the future of Greece and create a stronger, more dynamic community throughout the Diaspora. The Global Greek Film Initiative is designed to service these needs through our like-minded mission across the field of entertainment.”

The LAGFF Opening Night ceremony started with George Pelecanos receiving the 2023 Honorary Orpheus Award from his longtime collaborator, producer, and former HBO Executive Kary Antholis. Pelecanos is an acclaimed author of 21 books. Stephen King has called Pelecanos “perhaps the greatest living American crime writer,” but he is best known as a producer, story editor, and writer for HBO’s ‘The Wire’, a cop drama about the war on drugs in Baltimore.

In his statement, Pelecanos said that “Receiving the Orpheus Award was special to me because of the company I was in. It’s just different and in a way more meaningful when I am talking to my fellow Greeks and Greek-Americans. I’m completely honest when I say it was a high point of my career.”

The screening of Black Stone, a new film by Spiros Jacovides dealing with a Greek family in crisis, followed. Sofia Milos, an internationally recognized Greek-Italian actress, known for the hit shows CSI Miami and The Sopranos, spoke enthusiastically about the movie: “Black Stone, the opening night film was probably the best one I have ever seen of the Greek movies. The lead actress Eleni Kokkidou was truly exceptional, worthy of an international award. Great job in directing. Great writing and sense of humor in telling a relatable story on so many levels.”

Greek actor Christos Vasilopoulos, who is known for Banshee (2013) and Blindspot (2015), also enjoyed the movie, which received the Audience Award for Best Feature Fiction. The Closing Night screening featured another excellent film by director Maria Douza, ‘Listen’. This film deals with family dysfunction, prejudice against disability, and xenophobia. There are fine acting performances from all but especially the two leads Dimitris Kitsos and Efthalia Papacosta that earned her the Orpheus Award for Best Acting Performance. ‘Listen’ won the Orpheus Award for Best Feature Fiction.

The Audience Award for Best Documentary was given to the well-crafted documentary ‘Venizelos: The Struggle for Asia Minor’, directed by Nikos Dayandas.

Worth noting are two shorts that screened at the festival and were produced by honoree Pelecanos, ‘Miss Mary’s Room’, directed by Nicholas G. Pelecanos, and ‘The Thisvi Trilogy’, directed by Fay Efrosini Lellios. The film, inspired by director Lellios’ father’s photographs and her mother’s words, was shot over three years during the pandemic. Lellios said, “I wanted to realize a film both centered around the Septemvriana” happenings during World War II.

The two events that were the talk of the festival were the Filmmakers Brunch hosted graciously by Consul General of Greece in Los Angeles Ioannis Stamatekos at the consular residence, an opportunity for local and Greek filmmakers to meet and mingle, and the ‘Hollywood Scene & Be Seen Party’ in West Hollywood, with a live performance by Evangelia that was also a fundraiser hosted by THI, GGFI, LAGFF, and Power Muse Productions.

Read more at thenationalherald.com

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinationsGreek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

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