The 2019 San Francisco Greek Film Festival (SFGFF) wrapped its 16th annual event, with daily screenings held October 20th through 27th. The Festival screened eight feature films, and sixteen short films, by Greek and Cypriot filmmakers from around the world.
SFGFF audiences responded to surveys at every screening, making their voices heard in process to select the audience choice awards, known as The Astron Awards. When the ballots were tallied, the Astron Award for best feature film was awarded to the sensitive drama Her Job, the feature debut for writer-director Nikos Labôt, featuring an outstanding lead performance by actress Marisha Triantafyllidou, who attended the Festival and accepted the award. The Astron Award for best short film was awarded to the poetic tale Vourvourou by director Karina Logothetis, who was present to accept the award.
The SFGFF Opening Night was held at the Castro Theatre, on Sunday night, October 20, 2019, highlighted by a screening of the new documentary feature on Olympia Dukakis, Olympia. After a multimedia presentation, the Festival’s directors and organizers, Kleon Skourtis, Maria Nicolacakis, Katerina Mavroudi-Steck, Tatiana Drakaki, and Angela Karantzas, welcomed the audience, followed by comments from Modern Greek Studies Foundation President Chris Kanios, and San Francisco’s Greek Consul General Antonios Sgouropoulos. The moderator for this year’s Festival, film producer and scholar Despina Mouzaki, started the film program by introducing the touching short film I am Mackenzie, followed by Q&A with the film’s director Artemis Anastasiadou.
Olympia then screened to great enthusiasm, the audience clearly moved and entertained by the legendary, iconic Greek-American actress Olympia Dukakis, skillfully portrayed in this award-winning film. After the film, Director/Producer Harry Mavromichalis took the stage for discussion and Q&A, which included a recorded video of Olympia Dukakis giving her appreciation for receiving the Festival’s Honorary Astron Awards for her lifelong artistic contribution in the film industry. Festival Maria Nicolacakis took the stage again to award proclamation from Lieutenant Governor of California Eleni Kounalakis, and also from San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed, proclaiming Sunday, October 20, 2109 “Olympia Dukakis Day” in San Francisco.
A reception was held following the film program, on the Castro Theatre Mezzanine. The variety of guests included filmmakers and artists visiting for the Festival, prominent members of the Greek community, and of the San Francisco arts community. From the film Olympia, in addition to Director/Producer Harry Mavromichalis, also attending were Executive Producer Sid Ganis, Executive Producer Anthoula Katsimatides, and Associate Producer Pamela Spyrs. Connected to Harry Mavromichalis’ upcoming film on San Francisco folk music were musicians Eric & Suzy Thompson, and Sara Katz (Jerry Garcia’s first wife.) Also attending were representatives from the festival’s sponsors.
SFGFF screenings during the week October 21-25 were held at the Delancey Street Screening Room. Feature films screened were Epiphany, Holy Boom, Chinatown – The Three Shelters, Her Job, and In this Land Nobody Knew How to Cry. Short films that were included on the programs were Life Will Smile, To the Moon and Back, One Day One Fly, Ring of Fire, Entropia, Crossing, Chandelier, Two Strangers Who Meet Five Times, The Silence of the Dying Fish, SYMI – The Mamaland, Incidentally, Grief (A place none of us know until we reach it), Umbrella, and Patision Avenue.
SFGFF was held Saturday night, October 26 at Dolby Cinema at 1275 Market. After a reception featuring delicious food and drink provided by Festival sponsors, the audience gathered in the theatre, and were welcomed by the Festival’s directors and organizers. Festival co-director Maria Nicolacakis continued the program with the presentation of the Spyros P. Skouras Lifetime Achievement Award to Kary Antholis, first introducing an inspiring clip reel of the many projects that Antholis has produced/directed, and their long list of awards. Kary Antholis then took the stage to accept the award and have a brief onstage conversation with Maria Nicolacakis, discussing his career, including his 25 years as President of HBO Miniseries and Cinemax Programming. Festival moderator Despina Mouzaki continued the program by introducing the poignant short film Vourvourou, followed by Q&A with the film’s director Karina Logothetis. Mousaki then introduced the Closing Night feature film, the dramatic comedy Smuggling Hendrix. Special guests who attended closing night include Lieutenant Governor of California Eleni Kounalakis and her husband Marko Kounalakis; former President and current Vice President of the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Sid Ganis, with his wife producer and writer Nancy Hult Ganis; and Karen Antholis who accompanied her husband Kary to celebrate his well-deserved recognition.
The “Bonus Screening” was held on Sunday, October 27 at Delancey Street Screening Room, showing the feature Cliffs of Freedom, a period drama taken from Greek history. Following the film was a Q&A, with its director Van Ling, an accomplished visual effects supervisor and artist, making his directorial debut with this film.
The San Francisco Greek Film Festival is the first and longest-running Greek film festival in the U.S. SFGFF is dedicated to recognizing, supporting, and promoting the best film work by Greek and Cypriot filmmakers from around the world. The SFGFF is funded through sponsorships by individuals and businesses, grants and ticket sales. Entirely run by volunteers, the Festival staff works throughout the year to plan the event, supported by an Advisory Board of experienced and respected community and industry leaders. Proceeds of the film Festival benefit the Modern Greek Studies Foundation, a San Francisco nonprofit which is committed to enriching knowledge and appreciation of Greece’s linguistic, literary, cultural and historic contribution to the Western World. SFGFF gives special thanks to its 2019 sponsors. Festival’s Premier Sponsors include: Wells Fargo, Elios Charitable Foundation, Ellinopoula – an e-learning platform for kids to learn Greek, Kokkari Estiatorio, Tommy & Patti Skouras, ECCO International energy consulting, Dolby, Georgos Wines, and VisitGreece.gr.