The Greek Film Festival (GFF) marks two decades when it kicks off in Brisbane tomorrow night before making its way to Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra throughout November.
The festival kicks of with opening night movie What If… by writer/director Christoforos Papakaliatis. His debut feature, Papakaliatis is well known in the Greek TV arena. A Sliding Doors type of story, Demetris (also played by Papakaliatis) faces two very different paths, one as a bachelor and one as a man in love, each hinging on whether or not he takes his dog for a walk one particular night.
Box office gold in Greece, festival director Penny Kyprianou says it was the perfect choice for opening night. “It’s very accessible, with a bit of romance and drama, and it offers a different perspective to the Greek financial crisis; how financially that situation affects love and relationships.”
Marking the anniversary, Kyprianou has selected a hit list of nine festival favourites from past years, including two from writer/director Constantinos Giannaris, One Day In August and From the Edge of The City. The New York Post branded the latter a Greek version of My Own Private Idaho. Tassos Boulmetis’ A Touch Of Spice will also return to reignite the taste buds.
The Greek diaspora have their voices heard during GFF too, with closing night given over to French Greek filmmaker Costa-Gavras. Le Capital stars popular French comedian Gad Elmaleh. “Gavras is well-known for political thrillers,” Kyprianou says. “This looks into the corporate banking world and its very quick success and then demise. He’s an amazing storyteller.”
One of Kyprianou’s top picks this year is the kooky The Eternal Return of Antonis Paraskevas, written and directed by Elina Psykou. Antonis, a veteran TV host plagued by plummeting ratings, stages his own kidnapping to revive public interest. “Of course things go awry,” she says. “It’s a very original story and I think it will appeal to people who enjoy dark humour.”
For the fourth year running GFF incorporates the Greek-Australian Short Film Festival, showcasing nine shorts back-to-back in one meaty session. Australian audiences will get a second chance to see Melbourne-based filmmaker Natalie Cunningham’s You Know What I Love You, after it screened at this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival.
A simple affair that follows a day in the life of Cunningham’s 94-year-old Greek-speaking grandmother, Giannoula Panagiotopoulos, it’s a heart-warming glimpse into a life that will be instantly recognisable to Greek Immigrants and yet has a certain universality.
“Yes, it’s in Greek, and she has her own particular experience, but I think it speaks to so many people,” Cunningham says. “We’re very close and I’ve spent my whole life listening to her stories. I’m studying at the VCA, and we had the task of making a ten-minute short last year, which seemed like the perfect opportunity to make a film about her.”
Cunningham and assistant director Kylie Beale spent the entire day shooting, including capturing a gold moment involving a rather large log for the fire which Giannoula deals with ingeniously. “You can imagine the volume of material we had to work with, and all the memories. It was really hard to get it down to 10 minutes.” Maybe there’s a feature in it? “She’s got enough stories.”
Stephen A Russell
For more information about the 20th Greek Film Festival, go to http://www.greekfilmfestival.com.au