The highly anticipated 2023 Greek Film Festival has announced its full program for Melbourne. With a carefully curated selection of feature films and documentaries, the festival promises to be a cinematic journey like no other.
The 2023 Greek Film Festival opens on 19 October at the Astor Theatre, Palace Cinema Como and Palace Balwyn Cinema with the multi award-winning feature film by Asimina Proedrou, Behind the Haystacks.
From October 19 until October 29 an exceptional lineup of films that capture the essence of Greek cinema will be showcased: 17 features, 7 documentaries, including a tribute to the acclaimed and incomparable Irene Papas and the first Greek digital animation feature film, Karagiozis: The movie.
Also, let’s not forget, the return of the 11th Greek Student Film Festival.
Finally, this year marks the 80th anniversary of a sombre journey that began in the heart of Thessaloniki and led to the haunting grounds of Auschwitz. This year the Greek Film Festival has organised a tribute, with 3 documentaries and 1 feature film, honouring the memory of the Jewish community of Thessaloniki, once home to one of the largest Sephardic Jewish communities in the world.
This tribute will shed light to one of the darkest pages in world history. The unhealed universal trauma act as a reminder and warning for the future.
This year’s festival promises to transport you to the heart of Greek culture, history, and creativity, all while celebrating the rich and diverse world of Greek cinema.
The Greek Film Festival is presented in Victoria by the Greek Community of Melbourne playing on the Palace Cinemas group’s screens. For more festival details and the full program visit: https://greekfilmfestival.com.au/melbourne/films
Behind the Haystacks, 2022 – OPENING NIGHT
A middle-aged fisherman living on Greece’s northern border, who is drowning in debt, starts to smuggle migrants across the border lake, in exchange for a hefty fee. His wife, a housewife and devout churchgoer, is seeking the truth in God’s Word, while their daughter tries to define her own life within an oppressive environment. Until a tragic incident strikes the family, pushing the three heroes to face their own personal impasses and weaknesses, whilst having to consider, for the first time in their life, the price to pay for their actions.
Two tickets to Greece, 2022:
Recently divorced, Blandine is struggling to get back to her life. Her former best friend Magalie, loud and fearless, resurfaces and imposes herself on a trip they’ve always dreamed of as teenagers: Amorgos, the amazing location where The Big Blue was shot. When they reach their destination, they realise the dreamy holidays don’t go as they had planned since they have now a very different approach to holidays… and to life!
The trip to Greece, 2020:
In their fourth and final gastronomic expedition, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon set out from the ruins of Troy in modern-day Turkey as they head to Greece to retrace the steps of legendary king Odysseus, the hero of Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, on his journey home to Ithaca at the end of the Trojan War. Steve and Rob’s semi-fictional alter-egos hit the road in search of culture, history, breath-taking vistas and, of course, some of the finest food in Europe.
Voice in Deep, 2021:
In the aftermath of Greece’s refugee crisis that started in 2015, Tarek and Zaeed are orphaned refugees. Unable to secure public housing, Tarek pays for food and board by prostituting himself to his abusive pimp Masi, but when a local refugee girl is murdered, the younger brother Zaeed decides to get them out any way he can. Meanwhile, Bobby, an Australian volunteer worker once dedicated to saving the lives of refugees is holed up in a motel room. Her recurring traumas of a tragedy at sea have left her emotionally crippled. She must sell her illegally harvested shellfish before she gets on a plane back to Australia.
Karagiozis The Movie, 2022:
The first Greek digital animation feature film. This animation film is about the Greek folklore character, Karagiozis. Hadjiavatis is looking to hire a public secretary, to assist the illiterate fellow citizens of the village. Karagiozis thinks that this is easy way to make money and tricks Hadjiavatis into believing that he is suitable for the job, and he gets the role. For how long is Karagiozis able to hide the truth from everyone?
The script is based on the original story of shadow puppet theatre play “Karagiozis the Secretary”, dubbed by the original puppeteer Athos Danellis.
Seven different stories about love in modern Greece, by people who seek it, find it, lose it. A monk leads a procession to open a temple, which the authorities have closed due to a pandemic. A young girl is rescued from prostitution when her long-lost father reappears. Two college boys become perpetrators of violent incidents. A policewoman convinces an elderly man suffering from dementia that he is her father. A couple tries to recover their broken relationship ending in loneliness. A woman expresses her anger to a civil servant after losing her husband. A middle-class man sneaks his terminally ill best friend out of the hospital to give him a beautiful end by the sea.
Financial difficulties force the deaf teenager Valmira to drop the sign language classes at the Deaf School of Athens and return to her father’s island, where she faces the danger of indifference and isolation – not only because of the village’s prejudices, but, mainly from her own family. Mistrustful of her father Stamos and his new Bulgarian partner Tanya, Valmira tolerates her new circumstance only with the understanding that it is temporary; her father promises to return her to Athens next year. She makes little effort to adapt to the world of the hearing and – stubbornly attached to the sign language – refuses to wear her hearing aid.
Black Stone, 2022:
While filming absent civil servants, a documentary crew stumbles upon Haroula, a desperate, overprotective Greek mother in search of her son. But when her missing son is accused of fraud, Haroula sets out with her other, disabled son and a Greek African taxi driver to bring him back home where he belongs. Even if this means discovering who her son really is.
The film portrays a roller-coaster family journey where motherly fears unfold, hopes are crushed and unexpected events lead to unpredictable revelations.
Mr. Dimitris, an 80-year-old man, after his wife’s death, has left the village to live in the city with his son and daughter-in-law. On account of his birthday, however, his son calls the other family members to tell them that he is no longer able to take care of him. Another solution must be found, requiring that everyone should take their responsibility. Secrets and mistakes of the past will then come to the surface, something that upsets the family and leads to an inevitable dramatic finale.
Silence 6-9, 2022:
Aris and Anna meet one evening in a half-abandoned town surrounded by antennas which emit strange sounds and enable the transmission of human voices. In this bizarre, dreamlike world, where things don’t seem quite right – including people’s behaviour – these two solitary souls gradually start to develop feelings for one another… Aris and Anna are the only outsiders in a town filled with antennas that broadcast the voices of the Disappeared; inhabitants who have unexplainably and suddenly disappeared. Until Anna disappears too…
Remind Me, 2019:
A movie about Alzheimer’s. It all begins when a “group therapy” of Alzheimer’s caregivers meets to talk about their fears, guilt, bad and good times. Eleni is in this group. She is a new caregiver, who cannot accept that her mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and will not remember her. Moments of intense agony and pain are the protagonists of her life. But not for long. Because at some point the time of acceptance comes. The film features the side of the child that chooses to stand by the diseased parent till the end.
God’s Painting, 2023:
Dimitris returns to Greece after his mother’s death, planning to place his disabled sister in an institution so that he can live out his love affair with his girlfriend and future fiancé Stella. But life has a different plan in store for him. In the paternal home, surprises await him. Surprises that will completely overturn his personal life and his view of the world. The Psychologist who supports both Dimitri and Theodora gets involved not only in their life but also in their hearts, and the plot continues…
My Father’s Studio, 2022, documentary:
The daughter of the famous Greek photographer Takis Tloupas discovers her father’s rare photographic materials in the basement of their house, in Larissa. These archived photos taken between 1950-1980 have been forgotten for over 30 years and prove to be a priceless treasure of cultural and historical value. This documentary is a walk through the depths of an archive that maps the artistic career of Takis Tloupas, at the same time assembling the anthropo-geography of Thessaly in the last century.
The art of lute in Crete, 2023, documentary:
The “Thyrathen” museum, for 10 years now, continues the journey to the culture and musical tradition of Crete and the entire Mediterranean. It is with great joy that the time has come to announce the completion of a brilliant documentary about the lute. It is a documentary artfully carved from past stories and present memories. Hosting 8 recognised artists of the lute, they weave its history, its evolution and its formation within the area of Cretan music. The purpose of creating the documentary is to give the new researcher or the musician the key features to study the continuous evolution of the tradition.
Venizelos, the struggle for Asia Minor, 2022, documentary:
Eleftherios Venizelos, one of Greece’s greatest statesmen, faces challenges that test his diplomatic and humanitarian skills during the critical decade from the Balkan Wars and World War I, up to the Asia Minor Catastrophe and the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. His struggle is told through dramatized scenes, rare archival material, and expert interviews.
The documentary presents the events of the time, delving into the strategic choices of Venizelos and highlighting what followed his defeat in the 1920 elections, while providing answers to critical questions that still concern public opinion a century later.
Abdallah, an Arab Muslim civil engineer has to come to terms with his own responsibility in the collapse of a building, which causes the death of 7 people. Having been radicalised, Iman and Leila, are sent to Cyprus on a secret mission. Michelle, a lonely teenage girl, falls for Angelos, a domineering young man with racist ideals.
Three stories, each involving characters whose actions may mean the difference between life and death, are defined by their search for redemption from their past, their guilt, their loneliness.
Lost on Kythera, 2023:
Lost on Kythera is a quirky comedy in which mythology, ancient history, and the sometimes-paranormal present are indistinguishable. Hilarious and unexpected, this is a rollicking tale of adventure, love, and the comic belligerence of humans set against the backdrop of one of Greece’s most beautiful and enchanting islands.
Window to the sea, 2019:
Faced with life-changing news, Maria, a 55-year-old Spanish woman from Bilbao, chooses to take a trip to Greece against the advice of her son and doctors. This spontaneous decision leads her to the island of Nisyros, a tiny haven of peace and calm. While soaking in the island’s hidden treasures, she finds herself falling in love against all odds. A luminous portrait of a woman who takes a leap of faith and dares to live for the moment on her own terms. A touching story about love, loss and fearlessly confronting life, simply by leaning on someone else.
George Bizos: Icon, 2022:
A teenage refugee from Greece (1927-2020) becomes a relentless human-rights lawyer in the crucible of a violent racist regime in South Africa. He represents freedom fighters including Nelson Mandela. The film juxtaposes the personal and political sides of George’s life showing the tapestry of his life and his motivation in his work. It uses public and never-before seen archives, his family’s 8mm and still archive, interviewing notables, colleagues, and family, engaging the viewer to the end.
Cloudy Sunday, 2015:
During the tumultuous 1943, against the backdrop of a German-occupied Thessaloniki, two star-crossed lovers struggle to surmount prejudice and fear, as the brutalities against the town’s persecuted Jewish community escalate. In a fast-reforming society the love between a Christian and a Jewish woman is forbidden. The adventurous and passionate love story between George and Estrea finds refuge in the historical Ouzeri Tsitsanis. There the great Greek composer Vassilis Tsitsanis spends his most creative years and composes his most famous songs, amongst them the decisive “Cloudy Sunday”.
Kisses to the Children, 2011, documentary:
Five Greek-Jewish children who were saved by brave Christian families during the German Occupation, five hidden children who lived in total silence, finally tell their stories. Stories of terror and anguish, but also stories of salvation and carefree childhood in the arms of “strangers” – which became nests of love, away from the horror of the Holocaust. Five children who were forced to mature abruptly.
Kisses to the Children is not just another film about the Holocaust; it’s a film about childhood in the shadow of the Holocaust.
Mauthausen, 2023, documentary:
A poetic documentary based on a new interpretation of Mikis Theodorakis’s & Iakovos Kambanellis’s “Mauthausen Cantata” by Aristarchos Papadaniel (voice) and Aris Zervas (cello), and the original handwritten unpublished text for a film, “Travelogue to Mauthausen – May 1988” by Kambanellis, a concentration camp survivor.
“Travelogue to Mauthausen-May 1988”: Unpublished text by concentration camp survivor Iakovos Kambanellis comes to life in its natural place resurrecting memories during Mauthausen Liberation & Commemoration Day 2022.
My People, 2022, documentary:
A heartwarming letter to humanity…The inspiring untold story of the Greek Jews during the Holocaust…Romance…the Axis occupation…the fierce Greek resistance, the unique role of the Christian clergy; unveiled in a hymn to love, unity and courage as it is discovered by a young woman in her quest to uncover her family’s history.
Exploring the darkest moments of history during WWII the documentary highlights the personal journey of a young Greek Jew woman on her quest to explore the hidden truths of her own’s family story.
Tribute to Irene Papas:
Irene Papas, a Greek actress who became famous worldwide thanks to her roles in such films as Zorba the Greek, Z and The Guns of Navarone, passed away in September 2022. With her haunting looks and acclaimed gift for dramatic roles, Papas was also known for her stage work, particularly in ancient Greek tragedies.
The Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports announced her death. In a statement posted to social media, the ministry wrote of Papas: “Majestic, stately, dynamic, she was the personification of Greek beauty on the cinema screen and on the theatre stage, an international star who radiated Greekness.”
The Guns of Navarone, 1961:
A team of Allied saboteurs are assigned an impossible mission: infiltrate an impregnable Nazi-held Greek island and destroy the two enormous long-range field guns that prevent the rescue of 2,000 trapped British soldiers. As air attack is impossible, a group of Greeks and Allies will land on Navarone and attempt to dynamite the guns. An extremely dangerous mission made even more difficult by disputes and betrayals.