Catch the Greek New Wave at the 21st film festival
Australia’s Greek population is such an integrated part of our national make-up that when we talk about the likes of Alex Dimitriades, the Carides sisters, Alex Proyas and Hugh Jackman, we don’t even think about them as Greek Australians.
“And there’s George Miller – the prime example of a Greek Australian director who is now one of the leading directors in the world,” notes Nia Karteris, chair of the Greek Film Festival, which comes of age in 2014. “We’re very proud of him!”
Their prominence is mirrored in the strength of the Greek film industry itself – an industry that dominates the national box office and that not even a national economic crisis can stem. “It is very healthy, but now they’re doing a lot of collaboration with other EU countries – the funding’s not there from the government,” says Karteris.
Meanwhile the opening film of this year’s Greek Film Festival, Little England, was privately funded by a shipping tycoon. An adaptation of the novel The Jasmine Island by Ioanna Karistiani, it’s a lavish World War II melodrama about two sisters in love with the same sea captain. The author’s husband, Pantelis Voulgaris, directed the movie, and lead actor Andreas Constantinou will be in Australia for its screenings.
Greek recession is unsurprisingly the topic of several films in the program of 18 features and six documentaries. Yannis Economides’ noir thriller Stratos portrays a climate of moral decay in the story of a middle-aged baker who moonlights as a con man and killer. Miss Violence from Alexandros Avranas criticises Greek society while unravelling the reasons for the suicide of an 11-year-old girl. “It’s a dark, dark film,” Karteris says.
The rise of fascism in Greece, as personified by far-right party Golden Dawn, is reflected in Panis Koutros’s Xenia, a road-movie comedy that celebrates immigrant and gay rights. “The program this year has some amazing films,” Karteris says. “Ten years ago I’d say the festival was a local Greek community event but the calibre of the films has made it as much for the wider community.”