The 2021 Los Angeles Greek Film Festival (virtual) presents over 60 films, including 4 World Premieres, 23 North American premieres, 5 U.S. premieres, 6 West coast premieres, and 12 LA premieres.
The 15th Annual Los Angeles Greek Film Festival (LAGFF) on May 10-30, 2021 will present over 60 films. The LAGFF virtual edition offers New Greek Cinema with curated features, shorts, documentaries and animation films on a secure platform accompanied by a host of webinars and Q & As. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, LAGFF will run on-line and on-demand only.
“Even though we are looking forward to returning to the silver screen and our Egyptian Theater experience, we are taking full advantage of the virtual platform to showcase exciting and curated Greek films”, explains Festival Director Aristotle Katopodis. “We are proud to exhibit 4 World Premieres, 23 North American premieres, 5 US premieres, 6 West coast premieres, and 12 LA premieres. The breadth and depth of Greek cinema in all film forms is going to be available.” The LAGFF PASS provides access to all films, live events, Q&A with cast & crew, panels, social media live events, and a workshop. See details on all films and passes at www.lagff.org
Realities and Fictions
Never have reality and fiction been blurred to such a degree, as today.
DIGGER by Georgis Grigorakis – LA Premiere
A slow burning contemporary Western about a native farmer who lives and works alone in a farmhouse in the heart of a mountain forest in Northern Greece. For years now, he has been fighting with an expanding industrial Monster digging up the forest, disturbing the lush flora and threatening his property. Yet, the greatest threat comes with the sudden arrival of his young son, after a twenty-year separation. They turn into enemies under one roof. Father and son confront each other head on, with nature as their only observer, a showdown that ultimately yields an unexpected redemption for both.
GREEN SEA by Angeliki Antoniou – North American Premiere
Anna has lost her memory, but she hasn’t forgotten how to cook. In the kitchen, amidst the scents of spices and old forgotten recipes, she struggles to reconstruct her past. Her simple but delicious food awakens memories for the tavern’s regulars who in turn help her to reconnect with herself.
PARI by Siamak Etemadi – LA Premiere
Pari, an Iranian mother in her 40s, lands in Athens to visit her son, but quickly discovers he is nowhere to be found. Pari’s search for her son will follow his rebellious footsteps, taking her on a journey from the darkest corners of the city and the hidden depths of her soul to her ultimate freedom
THE MAN WITH THE ANSWERS by Stelios Kammitsis – LA Premiere
Victor is a twenty-something ex-diving champion now working in a furniture factory and living with his sick grandmother in a seaside town in Greece. Distraught after her death, he decides to dust off her old car and travel to Germany to visit his estranged mother. On the ferry to Italy, he meets Matthias, a talkative, inquisitive young German who is on his way home. Matthias persuades Victor to take him along and as they drive north, Victor's uptight, repressive personality clashes with the more free-spirited Matthias. But they soon find common emotional ground as their summer road trip takes unexpected turns. A tender story of self-discovery, love and family, in its many forms.
DANIEL’ 16 by Dimitris Koutsiabasakos – US Premiere
Daniel, a German teenager, is sent to Greece, in a juvenile offender community, to serve his sentence. There, in an abandoned village of Evros river area, near the border with Turkey, he experiences unprecedented emotions and has to solve difficult dilemmas... His final decision will surprise everyone.
BEING PRESENT by Yorgos Avgeropoulos – North American Premiere
Whilst still healing from the wounds caused by the ten year long economic disaster, Greece has to confront the biggest public health crisis of recent history. Against the backdrop of a disintegrated public health sector, the prominent protagonists managing the pandemic are entangled with the stories of its invisible heroes. Political decisions and behind-the-scenes manipulations are closely observed and juxtaposed with the struggles of the people who bear the brunt of this new crisis. Observing for one year the experience of his homeland, Avgeropoulos manages to capture a universal reality and poses critical questions about the post-Covid era the world is entering.
The Unknown Athenians by Angeliki Antoniou– North American Premiere
During 6 exhausting years of austerity, the documentary follows the daily routine of stray dogs struggling in the center of Athens and the people who take care of them. A hidden world emerges from the routes of the unknown Athenians and unveils the unexpected face and the heart of Athens, a city in the midst of change.
VASY’S ODYSSEY by Vasileios Papatheocharis – North American Premiere
Two lives, two different worlds and two unalike places. Vasi and Alexandra, two strangers, travel from Alicante to Greece, through France, Italy and Albania, on a trip where they will learn to face their mistakes and delve into their personal and family relationships. A journey through gastronomy, folklore, old traditions and the difficulty of communication between foreign languages. A search for happiness, dreams and hope.
THIS IS RIGHT; ZAK LIFE AND AFTER by Gevi Dimitrakopoulou
A short narrative documentary about the aftermath of Zak's murder from her community's perspective.
SOW THE WIND by Danilo Caputo – West Coast Premiere
Nica, 21, drops out of her university course in agronomics and returns home to Apulia in southern Italy after three years away. She finds her father deep in debt, a polluted, devastated region, and olive trees destroyed by a parasite. Everyone seems to have given up in the face of the vast ecological disaster, while her father is obsessed with uprooting the olive grove to make money from the land. Nica fights with all her might to save the ancient trees. But the pollution has also contaminated people's minds, and she will have to face unexpected obstacles…
STEFANOS ROKOS: NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS’ NO MORE SHALL WE PART, 14 PAINTINGS 17 YEARS LATER by Rinio Dragasaki and Araceli Lemos – West Coast Premiere
A documentation of three years of contemporary Greek painter Stefanos Rokos' work on the making of his exhibition "Stefanos Rokos: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ No More Shall We Part, 14 paintings 17 years later." His daily routines, artistic process, spontaneous inspirations, and his creative dialogue with legendary musician Nick Cave.
KALA AZAR by Janis Rafa – LA Premiere
A young couple’s ritualistic job routine of collecting and cremating animal bodies from their owners and the roadkills that they come across is challenged when they cause an accident themselves.
History & Tradition
Constantinople 1955, Pontian Genocide, Rebetica, Prespes, Kehajias, Askavlos, Markos, Weavers - Magical lands, Magical times, 17 tactile feelings.
SARMAKO – A TALE OF THE NORTH by Marco Papadopoulos – North American Premiere
Thessaloniki, October 1949. The Greek Civil War is supposedly over, but its impact is still felt by the people and a great divide exists between them. Antonis, the owner of the tavern “Makedonikon,” stays neutral and tries to distance himself from politics. But dreadful news summons his most feared childhood experience. While the war, the decade and a whole epoch come to an end, the band of musicians play their last classic Rembetika songs. And for Antonis the time for revenge has come.
PERSEPHONE by Costas Athousakis – North American Premiere
A Greek-Japanese Cine-Operetta, where the ancient Greek myth of the Abduction of Persephone comes alive before the eyes of a Japanese group, as the arrival of a stranger man forces the family members of the hostel ‘Persephone’ to identify themselves with the fate of the mythological heroes
ONCE UPON A RIVER by Haroula Rose
It's 1978 and Margo Crane, a 15-year-old part Native teen, must take to the Stark River on an odyssey. Akin to Huck Finn, this is a heroine like no other. Based on the best-selling novel ONCE UPON A RIVER by Bonnie Jo Campbell.
HEROES OF SALONIKA by Tom Barkay – North American Premiere
A moving and monumental film that sheds light on the practically unknown destruction that befell Jews in the Greek city of Thessaloniki during the Holocaust. The last survivors of the Salonika community from the Auschwitz extermination camp look straight into the camera and tell the story of the largest Jewish Sephardic (exiles from Spain) community in the Balkans simply and candidly. Dilemmas of family loyalty, faith, and survival at all costs arising in this film, which is also intended for a wider non-Jewish audience that is less familiar with the Holocaust.
SEVEN MINUTES OF SOUL by Panos Vlahos – US Premiere
Seven minutes of soul is a sports documentary that follows Panos Vlahos's journey to investigate the conditions under which the first modern Olympic games in Athens (1896) took place and debunk the myth of the very first marathon winner in history. In the first Olympic marathon race in history, in the 1896 Athens Olympics, a young water carrier by the name Spyros Louis was the first runner to cross the finish line after having run another marathon 5 days prior to the race. Actor Panos Vlahos sets out to reenact his achievement in order to shed light to this unprecedented achievement. After a series of medical and physical tests, interviews and unseen footage, Panos discovers extraordinary findings, historic documents and testimonies that shed new light on the sport and reveals what actually happened.
Kε•ha•'jas - MAN OF THE LAND by Giorgos Komakis – World Premiere
"Kε•ha•'jas - Man of the Land" is an ethnographic documentary filmed in Lemnos, the most lowland of the Aegean islands. Memories, oblivions, silences, and identities help to illuminate the rural, economic, and social history of the island.
THE JOURNEY OF ASKAVLOS by Yorgos Arvanitis – World Premiere
Following the ancient Greek bagpipe, The Journey of Askavlos takes the viewer on a journey from stone-built villages, where the instrument’s origins lie, to the concrete jungles of modern towns and cities. He becomes a witness to this revival and discovers a thing almost lost: the customs and an ethos of a people of another era, and an oral tradition that was once a way of life. The bagpipe is being assimilated by the contemporary music scene and is integrating with modern sounds, beyond the realm of traditional festivals, thereby gaining a younger audience and enjoying great resonance around Greece and worldwide.
SPIROS AND THE CIRCLE OF DEATH by Lino Kafidas and Dimitris Kafidas
Spiros is the last remaining motorcycle acrobat performing in the Circle of Death. He lives a nomadic life with his family, his caravan, and a team of riders who often abandon him. His father was a Circle of Death legend, as were his grandfather, uncle and brother – a family tradition unbroken for over 50 years. In today’s uncertain Greece will Spiros manage to make ends meet, and will this vanishing profession get a second wind? Are his sons willing to take the wheel? A human portrait of an old-school lover of speed and risk in a rapidly changing world.
THE UNLOST HOMELAND by Eftychia Fragou – LA Premiere
This documentary follows the story of 12 Greeks from Istanbul who lived through the pogrom of 1955. Who were the Greeks of Istanbul? How did they continue the Byzantine legacy? How did they manage to keep their language, religion, and identity intact for 500 years after the fall of Constantinople?
AMALGAMATION by Sylvia Nicolaides and Nicolas Iordanou
'Amalgamation' is a soulful portrait of a female choir revisiting traditional songs in a contemporary way, bridging past and present, with a strong voice and a deep sense of community and friendship.
PRESPA LAKES TWO DROPS IN A WATERWORLD by Androniki Christaki – World Premiere
The municipality "Prespa" is geographically located in the north-west of Greece and borders Albania and North Macedonia. A special value ecosystem of great global importance consisting of small and large Prespa Lake with a multitude of rare animals and more than 1,500 plant species. Prespa is home to the largest colony of silver pelican in the world, making it one of the most important habitats in Europe.
PASSAGE TO EUROPE by Dimitra Kouzi – LA Premiere
For 30 years now, Fotis Psycharis has been a primary teacher at a state elementary school in the heart of Athens. Reflecting the diversity of the neighborhood population, the majority of his pupils are refugee and immigrant children from Africa, the former USSR, the Balkans, the Middle East, and Asia, who often regard Greece as an unavoidable but also convenient stop on their journey across Europe. Cultural differences, the lack of a common language, the Ramazan, Bollywood, the life lessons learned during the rehearsals for the graduation day performance, the hopes and fears for the future, all make up the unique reality of this class, consisting of 17 pupils from 7 countries.
Markos by Nikos Skarentzos – LA Premiere
Α company of musicians travel to the Greek island of Syros, the birthplace of legendary folk musician Markos Vamvakaris, where they are invited to perform in an homage to his work. Parallel to this journey, all sorts of composers, musicologists, and artists from around the world reveal the musician’s important legacy in the 21st century, rendering his rebetiko sounds a constant source of inspiration and a reference point of modern culture. This is a documentary about the influence of Markos on the contemporary soundscape of Europe.
THE WEAVERS by Dimitris Koutsiabasakos – US Premiere
In 1963, IM, a Swedish charity, established in Vlasti, a mountainous village in Greece, a model weaving center. For 25 years this intercultural venture will support the women of the village which was a charismatic place, severely affected by wars, poverty, and abandonment. The Weavers chronicle offers a bittersweet look at topical questions about the development of the Greek countryside.
DRAW WITH ME by Constantine Venetopoulos – North American Premiere
The coming out journey of Brendon Scholl, a youth who identifies as Trans, and about how their art became their outlet for self-expression, while on the complex journey of having to be yourself in a world that at times struggles with diversity. The film features Jennifer Lopez - Brendon’s aunt - in a special introduction.
MY REMBETIKA BLUES by Mary Zournazi – LA Premiere
My Rembetika Blues is a documentary film about the power of music and what makes us human.
2 MILES FROM HOME by Julia Speropoulos – World Premiere
This documentary recounts events of the 1914-1923 period in Turkey, and the arrival of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk at Samsun in May 1919, which marked the climax of the genocide that killed more than 353,000 Pontic Greeks of the Black Sea.
Animation – Family (Free)
BUCKET HAT! by Demetrios Tzamaras – North American Premiere
Brothers Tot and Meech try desperately to convince their jokester Papou (Greek for Grandfather) to buy them ice cream while on a trip to the beach. But they have to act fast, because the Ice Cream Man could leave any minute!
THE LAZY DRAGON by Fokion Xenos and Joan Zhonga – North American Premiere
The tale of a Lazy Dragon encountering tiny humans for the first time.
THE PARROT LADY by Michalis Kalopaidis
The parrot lady' is inspired by a true story. The film works as an artistic interpretation of a woman life who chose to live on the streets with her parrots, afraid of dying alone in her home.
THE TWO SINGLES by Marios Ioannidis
Two single characters begin a journey together.
CAST-OUTS by Alexandros Romanos Lizardos and Akis Melachris – LA Premiere
Through faulty handling that leads to the collapse of a penitentiary and mass escapes, newly appointed Jail-R suffers multiple fractures and loses his job. While convalescing, he is hired as a bank security guard. When the three masterminds behind the prison break hit the branch on his morning shift, Jail-R is called to rise to the occasion, with plaster cast and all.
FROM HEART TO HEART by Sofia Kalantzi and Aristarchos Papadaniel – North American Premiere
Α story about the true inner strength that can transform anger, jealousy, arrogance into understanding, serenity and harmony. The essence of being without prattle brings a Spring, the Spring inside you!
Animation – Older Kids (Free)
CABO DA ROCA by Maria Livana and Alexis Lagkaditis – North American Premiere
This is a music video for Circus Caravan's song "Cabo Da Roca" was created during the quarantine days. It started as a creative way to get through the quarantine days and ended up a meaningful way to depict the feelings the song evokes. The fast-paced, restraining big city lifestyle and the need to escape from it.
ALS, OUR OWN SEA by Babis Alexiadis – North American Premiere
An animated short dedicated to the sea. Triggered by the Homeric word ALS, the film tells the personal story of its creators, members of the Alternative Community “Paremvasis”, that is connected with the sea environment, the “saltiness’’ of one’s childhood, the oceans of emotions and the beauty of the big blue that moves us deeply. The sea as described in the movie is tempestuous and calm, it is life itself and anticipation, rebirth and transformation. This alternation represents the course of the people that give their own battle in life, dare to take a long journey and have the goal to change. In the beginning it all seems like a dream but it shortly becomes very real.
GREAT EXPECTATIONS by Mariza Litina – North American Premiere
A man and a woman meet on a dating website. The website watches and assists them through a small bird called «lovebird». They transform making their bodies curvier and when they meet in person, they fall in love.
SEVARAMBES by George Kontos – US Premiere
In the city of Sevarambes, where giant machine hands impose the law, any artistic expression by the human workers is pursued and terminated. When Er is seized while attempting to play music, he manages to escape inside the apparatus of a sinister machine. Until he realises that he is not alone.
ALL YOU CAN EAT by Dimitris Armenakis
A tribe of cartoons are being taken by force from their natural habitat, only to fulfill the voracious intentions of humans. Green and Red are in love, but are their emotions stronger than reality?
59 DAYS by Zina Papadopoulou
Coronavirus. Lockdown. Staying Home. Three Kids. Stephanos 3 years old, Dionisis 5 years old and Sotiris 9 years old. They can't see their grandparents. They don't go to school. A diary. A small documentary. A short animation.
THE TICKET MAKER by Mario Kkounnous – North American Premiere
The Ticket Maker is a short story about a man who finds himself overcome with the fear of being alone. Desperate, he sits on a train platform waiting in case someone turns up. A storm hits and he runs towards the woods for safety. Will he find solace or will he have to face his own demons? The story underlines events in my life that I wanted to explore and tell a story through animation. The film addresses a variety of issues that underpin the learning activity and professional practice for an individual working on an animation project within education. The film explores a hybrid of techniques that one person can use to help complete a project within their financial and technical limitations.
1000MODS – LUCID by Yannis Ntousiopoulos – US Premiere
Animated lyric video for the band 1000mods. Inspired by Dadaism and Surrealism, this animated collage touches modern society issues, such as equality, human rights, sexism, refugee crisis, suicide and the media. All in a visual absurdity.
ELEVATOR ALONE by Anastasia Papadopoulou– North American Premiere
"Elevator Alone" is a comedic short film using stop motion animation technique. Inspired by everyday life and by the difference in people's behavior when they are alone, in contrast to the socially acceptable behavior that individuals adopt when in public space and especially in the confined and always awkward setting of an elevator.
UPSIDE TOWN by Sofia Avramidou – North American Premiere
Upside Town is a Music Video made for Twinsanity, a Hip-Hop band from Greece. A surreal representation of everyday working-class struggle.
MAN OF GOD by Yelena Popovic – West Coast Premiere
Exiled unjustly, convicted without trial, slandered without cause. Man of God depicts the trials and tribulations of Saint Nektarios of Aegina, as he bears the unjust hatred of his enemies while preaching the Word of God.
TAILOR by Sonia Liza Kenterman – West Coast Premiere
When the bank threatens to repossess the family shop and his father falls ill, Nikos takes action: With a wondrously strange tailor shop on wheels, he reinvents himself while bringing style and confidence to the women of Athens.
BALLAD OF A PIERCED HEART by Yannis Economides – LA Premiere
Lost in their conniving planning and scheming, three families in a small Greek town forget the strongest motive of all: love. Pure, romantic, unrequited love, the kind that can drive a man to do anything in order to save an unsuspecting woman from the wolves that surround her.
Film Festival Darlings
Low budget, limited resources, tons of challenges, no problem; here are six young filmmakers with hundreds of international awards under their belt from the most prominent film festivals - creativity is not in short supply.
BELLA by Thelyia Petraki – West Coast Premiere
Greece 1986-1987, a little before the fall of State Socialism and just at the end of the Cold War. In front of Anthi’s eyes the country is changing, the world is changing and with them Christos seems to be changing too.
ANTIVIRUS by Anastasia Sima
Athens, Greece 2020. Quarantine days. Daphne, a female young jazz singer of a foreign origin who lives in Greece, decides to "break down" the wall that separates her from her annoying neighbor.
THE END OF SUFFERING (A PROPOSAL) by Jacqueline Lentzou
Sofia is panicky, again. The Universe decides to contact her. An other-wordly dialogue. A planet symphony for Mars, where people dream awake and fight for love.
ESCAPING THE FRAGILE PLANET by Thanasis Tsimpinis – LA Premiere
A boy-meets-boy tale, a few hours before the world ends.
MADONNA F64.0 by Stavros Markoulakis – LA Premiere
After an important surgery, Maria returns to her family home to recover. Living with her mother, her sister and a newborn baby. While Maria’s body starts healing, a deeply hidden desire of hers surfaces. Maria wants to come close to the baby, and this creates a serious threat to the “safety” of the family home.
MELATONIN by Nikos Pastras – US Premiere
A small love story about electronic music and sleep disorders.
VOUTA by Dimitris Zahos – LA Premiere
Vouta is a pigeon breed that flies all the way up to the clouds, then dives at 230 km/h and slows down just before reaching the ground. Christos is a teenager who lives in a disadvantaged neighbourhood of Athens. He has to find a way to avoid conflict with his father who just got home from prison, just like the pigeons he loves avoid collision.
WITCHIN’ by Christina Diamantara
A young witch's dream of making the best potion in her class takes her to the mysterious world of human males, in search of a powerful ingredient: Big Dick Energy.
GUIDE ME HOME by Stefan Georgiou – West Coast Premiere
David arrives in London with dreams of becoming a somebody, but when things don't go to plan he starts to slip between the cracks of the city he loves so much.
HARMONICA MAN by Alexandros Skouras – North American Premiere
A father has kidnapped his daughter. Running out of money, they are on a road trip, trying to reach as far as possible.
ISKIOMA by Kostas Gerampinis – North American Premiere
A veterinarian is called in to treat a mysterious disease on a remote farm in Greece. He examines the first victim of this disease, a ram, but the precise nature of the affliction eludes him. Without a moment’s hesitation, he advises the owner of the farm to put down all his livestock as a precautionary measure and tells him that he will return in a few days with the lab results. A freak storm, though, forces him to spend the night at the farm.
AS IF UNDERWATER by Anthi Daoutaki – North American Premiere
The film tells the story of Hera, a 35-year-old woman. Her home is her world, and her world is magical. Her loneliness is filled with objects. She forgets herself in her daily routine and gets tangled in her made-up micro worlds. Her difficulty to cope with social gender norms and an awkward encounter with a jeweler, lead her to buy a wedding ring.
GOADS by Iris Baglanea – North American Premiere
Ira lives with her family in a remote location within Greece. She will face one of the strongest experiences of her childhood during a “training” session with her father, who has a very specific view for life.
54 / THE BLIND TURTLE AND THE ENDLESS SEA by Isabella Margara – North American Premiere
A woman who cannot stop running. A mysterious man who knows everything about her life. A turtle pin. An unexpected encounter in the elevator that goes up to the 54th floor – but takes us all elsewhere.
THE JAR by Kyriakos Rontsis – LA Premiere
Staring at a butterfly trapped in a jar, a boy ponders over the balance between protection and freedom.
DAKAR by Stelios Moraitidis – North American Premiere
1978, on his birthday, Stavros was set to get engaged to Matula. Instead, he was forced to embark on his first big journey. 2020, on his birthday, Stavros wanders around the city alone. It is the day that he doesn’t like to talk. It is the day that he reflects on his past considering how things would have been if he had made other decisions.
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