Vicki James Yiannias
The Director of the Greek Press and Communication Office in New York, the innovative Polyxeni Mastroperrou, has come up with just the right idea to acquaint the public with contemporary Greek cultural production, Greek Film Nights, complete with popcorn.
The monthly showings arecatching on fast and itʼs easy to explain why: chatting with friends at the pre-show gathering, munching on movie snacks, delicious Greek food with drinks, and view inga terrific movie add up to an all-round super evening for Cinema lovers.
There have been two Greek Film Nights so far, one on Friday, February 20, and the second on Friday March 27, both of the film shown are more than worthy of national distribution.
The first film, director Olga Maleaʼs seemingly flawless First Time Godfather (Proti Fora Nonos), is about Alex, a California-born, 11 year-old, eldest son of a prominent Greek political family who is sent to Crete to act as godfather to the child of an aspiring parliamentary deputy. Alex undergoes various trials, both touching and highly amusing, to prove to his father that he is a worthy son. Alex is perfectly played by Tex Pardue, a student at American Community Schools in Athens who says it was great fun being in a movie.
The second film, director Tassos Boulmetisʼs several award-winning A Touch of Spice (Politiki Kouzina), shown on Friday, March 27, a nostalgic bitter-sweet comedy (with a terrific score) about self-awareness, people leaving their homeland, and personal conflict , talks about love and life through the metaphor of cooking, mostly the elemental nature of spices and their effect on human consciousness – observations that would have doubtless impressed the philosopher Rudolf Steiner. Look for A Touch of Spice at Cinema Village in Manhattan sometime in May.)
The 2007 screening of the Canada/Greece film Fugitive Pieces, the first film Ms. Mastroperrou showed in the new Greek Press Officefirst gave her the idea that screenings could take place in the space. “The idea of a regular Greek night came later”, said Mastrperrou as she shared her thoughts about theGreek Film Nights and Greek film in general with the GreekNews.
GN: What motivated you to initiate the Greek Film Nights?
PM: After two years in New York Iʼve realized, not without surprise, that modern Greece is not present in the cityʼs cinemas. You can watch all kinds of foreign films from all over the world except from Greece. So I decided to give it a try and have a regular screening in our office. What I had in mind was to help build an audience for Greek movies and to acquaint as many people as possible with recent production. Our primary target audience is, of course, the media, whether that is UN, American, or Greek American Media.
GN: How do you decide on the films that you show?
PM: Deciding what to show is not easy, although I have seen many films and have an idea of recent productions from reading the papers. So far our decisions have mostly been based on what critics say, what awards the films have received, and their general popularity.
After starting the Greek Film Nights we received requests. People are asking if we are going to show certain films. We cannot always accommodate requests but we try.
GN: Is it difficult to obtain the films?
PM: Another important factor in deciding what films to show is obtaining the consent of the production companies for our screenings; I donʼt want to have a public screening without the consent of the production and distribution company of each film.
We have started with two popular films, The Little Godfather (Proti Fora Nonos) and now Touch of Spice (Politiki Kouzina), both of which have been loved by broad audiences and we intend to proceed with different choices, as well.
GN: Have you gotten feedback on the films?
PM: We just had our second night, but yes, we already have had feedback. People like the film nights and they talk about them. Of course, the office capacity is small and we cannot accommodate many people, but so far we have gotten a great response — especially from non-Greeks — and that was a very pleasant surprise. For the second film we had more UN people in our audience — especially journalists –, which was great.
Apart from that Iʼve also noticed that the Greek Film Festival has raised a lot of interest, not only in the Greek American community, but also to Americans and a number of foreign journalists.
GN: How many Greek Film Nights do you plan to have?
PM: We were planning to have one per month and I hope weʼll make it.
GN: How do you think Greek films compare with other European films?
PM: I strongly believe that Greek films are high quality and can be compared favorably to many other European productions… Greek movies are just great. Iʼm very fond of cinema and Iʼm glad that I can watch so many good Greek films. You might not like one or two films… itʼs always a matter of taste and aesthetics, but we certainly have very talented directors.
The Greek Press and Communication Office, Permanent Mission of Greece to the United Nations, Consulate General of Greece, is located at 305 East 47th Street.