Greek Film Festival announces its full program for Sydney

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True to its annual commitment of delivering the best of contemporary and classic Greek cinema, the 28th Greek Film Festival, proudly presented by the Bank of Sydney, announces its full program for 2023.

This year’s screenings will return to Leichhardt’s Palace Norton Street Cinema from 19 to 29 October 2023 and include 15 award-winning feature films, 8 documentaries and the established Student Film Festival, which celebrates its 11th year.

In September 2022, Greek Cinema lost one of its behemoths, the late Irini Papa. With a career that spans more than 70 years and multiple roles in internationally renowned films, the 28th Greek Film Festival pays tribute to the great actress by screening the “Cannons of Navarone,” one of her most internationally acknowledged cinematic performances.

2023 marks 80 years from the deportation of the Jews of Thessaloniki. Honouring this dark anniversary for the Greek Jews and with the support and cooperation of the Jewish Board of Deputies of NSW, 4 exceptional documentaries and a feature film commemorating the victims of the Holocaust and especially the Jewish community of Thessaloniki will be presented to Sydney’s cine-friends.

Opening Night Film:

The 28th Greek Film Festival will open with Asimina Proedrou’s multi-award-winning debut feature film “Behind the Haystacks.” The film touches the very sensitive and topical issue of refugee immigration while outlining the modern Greek reality of living in a small boarder town where closed societies are called to handle everyday life struggles sometimes with distorted perspective. 

Closing Night Film:

An unexpectedly dynamic Cypriot film “IMAN” by Korinna Avraamidou and Kyriakos Tofaridis will conclude the 28th Greek Film Festival on 29th October. The film successfully depicts the complexity of modern Cypriot society, portraying with powerful performances the protagonists’ personal fights for survival within a Western-style country that is geographically so close to the turbulent Middle East. 

Special Events:

For the first time a film dedicated to young audiences will be screened at the 28th Greek Film Festival; “Karagiozis,” the emblematic figure of the shadow theatre became a film, the first Greek-produced animation film and aspires to introduce our little friends to the classic Greek childhood hero! 

Acclaimed Greek-Australian director Jason Raftopoulos will attend the screening of his new drama ‘Voices in Deep’ on Saturday, 21st October at the Palace Cinema Norton St. The film is set in the aftermath of the 2015-16 refugee crisis when nearly 1,000,000 refugees “crossed” from Turkey to Greece and is filmed in Greece. The screening will be followed by a Q&A.

The 28th Greek Film Festival has the honour to present this year a special documentary about the life of Nelson Mandela’s Greek lawyer, George Bizos, which will be screened in the presence of his son, Alexis. Alexis Bizos and the creator of the George Bizos Icon doco, Jane Thandi Lipman, will attend the screening of the highly anticipated documentary which will be followed by a Q&A.

With powerful screenings and special events during 19-29 October 2023, this year the 28th Greek Film Festival guarantees to excite you!

For more information and to buy your tickets visit www.greekfilmfestival.com.au  

Festival Details:

  • What: 28th Greek Film Festival 2023 – Sydney
  • When: Thursday 19 October – Sunday 29 October 2023
  • Where: Palace Norton Street, 99 Norton Street, Leichhardt, NSW 2040
  • Website: www.greekfilmfestival.com.au/sydney

Full Program:

Behind the Haystacks, 2022 – OPENING NIGHT

behind the haystacks
Behind the Haystacks.

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. 

IMAN, 2022 – CLOSING NIGHT:

IMAN
IMAN.

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. 

The trip to Greece – 2020:

trip to greece
Trip to Greece.

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.

Black Stone, 2022:

black stone
Black Stone.

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.

Voice in Deep, 2021:

voices in deep
Voice in Deep.

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.

Listen, 2022:

listen
Listen.

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.

Purgatory, 2022:

purgatory
Purgatory.

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.

Window to the sea, 2019:

window to the sea
Window to the sea.

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.

God’s Painting, 2023:

god's painting
God’s Painting.

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…

Dignity, 2022:

dignity
Dignity.

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:

silence 6-9
Silence 6-9.

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…

Two tickets to Greece, 2022:

two tickets to greece
Two Tickets to Greece.

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!

Karagiozis The Movie, 2022:

karagiozis
Karagiozis: The Movie.

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.

The Guns of Navarone, 1961:

the guns of navarone
The Guns of Navarone.

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.

Kisses to the Children, 2011:

kisses to the children
Kisses to the Children.

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.

My People, 2022:

my people
My People.

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.

The City & the City – 2022:

the city and the city
The City & the City.

The untold story of the life and perils of the Jewish community of Thessaloniki in six chapters. The past and the present of a city meet and converge at its cracks. Through the eyes of Thessaloniki-born directors Christos Passalis and Syllas Tzoumerkas, “The City and the City” documentary will enlighten, remind and shock the audience with new insights into old wounds.

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”.

Mauthausen, 2023:

MAUTHAUSEN
Mauthausen.

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 Father’s Studio, 2022, documentary:

my father's studio
My Father’s Studio.

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.

George Bizos: Icon2022:

george bizos
George Bizos:Icon.

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.

The art of lute in Crete, 2023:

the art of lute in crete
The Art of Lute in Crete.

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:

venizelos
Venizelos, the struggle for Asia Minor.

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.

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