New York.- By Vicki James Yiannias
Photos: GANP/Dimitrios Panagos
First it was non-stop laughter from the packed-house audience at the U.S. premiere of Greek director Thodoris Atheridis’ PERFECT STRANGERS on Opening Night of the 11th Annual New York City Greek Film Festival (NYCGFF), September 28.Then it was shock. But we won’t give out the reason why because PERFECT STRANGERS plays again on Sunday, Oct 1 at the Directors Guild Theater, 57th Street. It’s enough to quote Atheridis’comment to the audience about the film’s timely message. Particularly today, with the ubiquitous use of cell phones, he said, “… no one really knows anyone else. We are all strangers.Technology is the most democratic thing in the world,but it is a very difficult thing to handle.”
PERFECT STRANGERS, which opened in Athens on Christmas, 2016, went on to become a major hit in Greece, and it’s a great movie to open this year’s edition of the festival.
A satire, PERFECT STRANGERS is a comedy, yes, but the ebullient Atheridis, who was present at the showing with his partner, Greek film and TV star Smaragda Karidi (both star in the film) said he learned from the five Italian writers of PERFECT STRANGERS that while commedia dell’arte plots are funny, they are tragic, as well. Atheridis told the audience that he didn’t make any changes in his transcription of the Italian dialogue into Greek other than necessary additions to emphasize Greek situations, such the mention of olive groves on Aegina, because “There is nothing worse than changing someone else’s masterpiece.”
In a random survey of viewers at the exit everyone to a person said that the movie’s situational elements are “very funny”, and the “heavily Greek” (in Atherides’ words) repartee is “very funny”.The latter opinion hasn’t always been Greek Americans’ assessment of Greek humor, soit was clear that the New York City Greek Film Festival audiences are up for entertainment.It’s been proven that for Greeks film events are truly entertaining when food (and conversation) are included. The 11th Annual New York City Greek Film Festival Opening Night Gala more than satisfied that urge.
If you didn’t choose to take a cab, it was a balmy night to walk to Kellari Tavernaon 44th Street for the celebration of the founding and successful continuation of thisnow highly-anticipated annual celebration of Greek movies and Greek culture.
The NYCGFF is carried out by the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce with major support from the Onassis Foundation and under the auspices of the Consul General of Greece.Consul General of Greece Dr. Konstantinos Koutras and Mrs. Koutras; Nancy Papaioannou, President of the Atlantic Bank and president of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce (HACC); Amalia Cosmetatou, Executive Director and Director of Cultural Affairs of the Onassis Cultural Center;Greta Kamaterou, Director of the Greek Tourist Organization; and Ioannis Bouboukis, new Director of the Press and Communication Office in New York with his daughter, Eva, were among the guests spied through the crowd at the film and at Kellari Taverna. Executive Secretary of the HACC Stamatis Ghikas and Executive Director of the festival Jimmy DeMetro were enthusiastic hosts greeting guests.Tapping into the energy of the beginning of New York’s fall cultural season, drinks flowed, sumptuous arrays of Greek food kept appearing and wait-staff service catered to the lighthearted crowd.
Two films continuing the forward movement in the international recognition of films by Greek directors are on this year’s program, Oscar contender Yannis Sakaridis’ film AMERIKA SQUARE, about a conflicted nationalist and the social turmoil of a troubled Athens neighborhood, and Best International Narrative Feature winner at the Tribeca Film Festival, Elina Psykou’s SON OF SOPHIA, a mix of fantasy and reality in a Russian boy’s experience of relocating to Athens. PHAEDRA, Jules Dassin’s 1962 film for Melina Mercouri (following NEVER ON SUNDAY) with Tony Perkins (then “Anthony” Perkins) and Raf Vallone, with its memorable highway death scene. ROZA OF SMYRNA, about a forbidden past love. In THE OTHER ME, Pythagorean theory is used to to track down a serial killer.In THE BOY ON THE BRIDGE a 12-year-old Cypriot in the middle of a murder investigation comes of age. BORDER SOULS, Takis Bardakos’ powerful, just-completed documentary about monks on Halkidiki caring for refugees; DOGS OF DEMOCRACY, about Athens’ stray dogs and the people who care for them. Vassilis Loules’ IN THE MOUNTAIN PASTURES captures the beauty of the Greek outdoors as nomadic shepherds talk about their lives and their flocks. THE PATRIARCH’S ROOM reopens the case of the first patriarch of Jerusalem to be relieved of his dutiesin 2,000 years of Church history. “MY OTHER SELF is a genuine whodunit,”NYCGFF Jimmy DeMetro told GN, noting that this genre is relatively rare in Greek cinema, “It’s a very fine detective story involving a professor of criminology trying to crack a case involving serial murders, and the fact that the film exists is proof of a director trying to find an audience by working in a genre that is not overly familiar to Greek audiences.”
Just some hints of what’s coming. See you at the movies.
The NYCGFF was pleased to host directors, many from Greece: Takis Bardakos, director, BORDER SOULS; Hector Bardakos, BORDER SOULS post production; George Kordellas, director, ROZA OF SMYRNA; Clem McInstosh, director, and Zina Wilde (Anaplioti), writer and star of the short, PUZZLED; Alexander Jaschik and Iordanis Orfanidis, co-directors, BREAD AND OLIVES; Christos Godas, director, APOCALYPSE AGAIN
Robert Haufrecht, director of the short, SUBTERRANEAN LOVE: ILEANA AND PAUL.