Los Angeles Greek Film Festival Showcases a New Generation of Filmmakers

by Ersi Danou June 7, 2017
Scenes from Greek films Son of Sofia, Limbo,Amerika Square and The Ogre of Athens

At the LAGFF: Son of Sofia, Limbo, Amerika Square and The Ogre of Athens

The Los Angeles Greek Film Festival (LAGFF) represents the newest of Greek cinema and follows a new generation of filmmakers who think out of the box. Among the consequences of the crisis Greece has suffered for the last eight years, there are a few positive ones including a reinvigoration of the arts. Greek filmmakers have used the medium of film as a way to express and communicate their own personal struggles, pain, growth and occasional wisdom. All this is reflected in an active search for the unconventional and the genuine, sometimes met with international success as in the case of Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer) and Athena Rachel Tsangari (Attenberg, Chevalier).

This year, LAGFF brings to Los Angeles several unorthodox works, including Yannis Sakaridis’ Amerika Square about the struggles of locals and immigrants in a dark corner of modern-day Athens (Beijing Int’l Film Festival Audience Award and the FIPRESCI Award at the Thessaloniki Int’l Film Festival); Stergios Paschos’ Afterlov – a funny, poignant and scathing post-love story between two people who refuse to grow up (Locarno Youth Jury Award); Sofia Exarchou’s Park about a group of boys who wander among the ruins of the Athens Olympic Village (New Director Award at San Sebastian Int’l Film Festival); Konstantina Kotzamani’s stunning short Limbo, and more.

Elina Psykou’s second feature Son of Sofia, which recently got the first prize at the Tribeca Film Festival closes LAGFF. While Greece is living the Olympic dream in 2004, 11-year-old Misha, an immigrant from Russia, gets catapulted into the adult world, riding on the dark side of his favorite fairytales. The screening is also the official HFPA screening, rendering the film eligible for Golden Globe consideration.

In 2013, Variety singled Psykou out as one of the “10 European directors to watch”. She returns to LAGFF three years after her first feature, The Eternal Return of Antonis Paraskevas (2013), which won the Opera Prima Special Jury Award. The conversation is led by Sundance Programmer Kim Yutani.

The festival team, led by Artistic Director Aristotle Katopodis, endeavors to follow, assimilate and disseminate the latest trends in international cinema, not only through the variety of screenings offered but also through a robust development and industry 4-day program, the International Project Discovery Forum (IPDF). In its 5th year now, IPDF offers free informative events such as a panel discussion on new models of distribution moderated by creative and strategic advisor Missy Laney, on Saturday June 10. More importantly the forum zeroes in on a few select film projects by Balkan filmmakers whose merit has been singled out by IPDF Director Araceli Lemos and her team. This year’s projects originate from Greece, Albania and Turkey.

Final project presentations culminate the intensive 4-day workshop. Having gathered feedback and advice, the filmmakers present their projects to a Jury of leading industry professionals specializing in International Independent cinema. This year Jury members are producer Fenia Cossovitsa, Sundance Programmer Hussain Currimbhoy, Film Independent’s Head of Global Media Makers Maria Bozzi, San Fransisco Film Society’s Director of Artist Development Caroline von Kuhn and producer Pavlina Hatoupis.

The Los Angeles Greek Film Festival is hosted by the home of the American Cinematheque, the newly renovated Egyptian Theatre.