Los Angeles Greek Film Festival opens on June 11, 2010 and runs until June 13th. International Film fans find a unique opportunity to see the best films of Greek cinema and meet a few of the Greek film directors during the Festival. To learn more about Los Angeles Greek Film Festival, we spoke to Ersi Danou Festival Co-Founder and Matt Bolish, Director of Programming of the Festival.
Bijan Tehrani: Please tell us a little bit about the background of the Festival and you involvement in it.
Ersi Danou: The Festival started in 2007, we felt that there was no Greek Film presence in Hollywood; the Greek community here was eager to see new films that were coming out of Greece. We were surprised with the speed that the festival took off.
Bijan: What were some of your expectations for the Festival and how did they compare with the actual reaction of the audience.
Ersi: The audience has been very responsive and the Greek community has been very supportive. As we grow, we are trying to expose the Festival and expand to other cultures in the American audience. It is our goal to present films that would not otherwise be seen.
Bijan: How do you go about choosing the films that are shown in the Festival?
Matt Bolish: It’s a standard submission process; we have a two or three month window where we accept short films, feature length films and documentary. In addition to that we have a programmer on the ground in Greece who keeps her ear to the trends of films that are coming out. She provides us with scoops and things that have yet to break outside of Greece and in some rare cases she lets us know about films that have not been seen by any audience. So this process adds a real sense of competition to the Festival.
Bijan: How many films are you showing at the Festival this year?
Ersi: We have seventeen films and fourteen of them are in competition.
Bijan: Are there any awards presented at the Festival?
Ersi: There are three jury awards presented at the Festival that are awarded to Best Feature, Best Documentary and Best Short Film. We also give Orpheus Awards for, Special Achievement in Film, Audience Choice Award and the Career Achievement honor, which will be presented by Alexander Payne.
Bijan: Does the film Festival at all help the film industry in Greece?
Ersi: We believe that it does and it certainly has the potential to do a lot more in the future. We want the Festival to help Greece get ready to receive more foreign productions; that is a major goal of ours and we feel that if certain conditions allow this to happen, it will be great for the Greek film industry. In the last two decades Greek filmmakers have been thinking outside of the box and have been making films not just for Greek audiences but also for a global audience.
Matt Bolish: The main thing that a festival like ours can offer is a voice outside of home for these filmmakers. We can open the doors and allow people from outside of the community to see what people in the community are producing. Inevitably the films will change the way people think and their abilities.
Bijan: Are there any guest filmmakers from Greece attending the Festival?
Ersi: It has been a hard year economically especially for filmmakers, but we have managed to get about 8 films represented locally.
Bijan: How can film fans attend the Festival?
Ersi: The best way is to go to our website lagff.org and buy tickets online which are discounted or you can come to the Egyptian Theatre and purchase tickets at the door.
Bijan: Are there any discounts for film students?
Ersi: Yes, student discounts will be available for tickets purchased at the door with a valid student ID. Also we have just added three free screenings on Sunday Morning, June 13th, from 10:30 AM to 3:30 Pm to screen Labor of Love, Plunder from a Bleeding Land and Words of Resistance.
Bijan: Will there be Q & A sessions with the filmmakers after the screenings?
Ersi: Yes, currently we have filmmaker Q&As scheduled for Arcadia Lost, Black Field, The Building Manager, Evridikis Case, Collosi of Love and 4 Black Suits.
Bijan: Are there any films that audiences should look out for this year?
Matt Bolish: We are proud of everything that we have in our line-up, however films that are creating a lot of buzz would definitely be Dogtooth with its track record on the festival circuit; that film will be playing Saturday at 9pm. We are also very excited about a new film coming out called 4 Black Suits which is a comedy about four undertakers that are carrying a body across Greece to its final resting place. These films deal a lot with the ideas about what it means to be Greek and the ideas of national pride. There is also a great little documentary called Colossi of Love, I would really recommend that film. We are opening the Festival with Black Field a film that no one has seen yet and this is an absolutely gorgeous film. We also have an excellent documentary that talks about the political corruption in Greece called Sugartown: The Day After.
*John S. Latsis, Greek Film Center and ELMA are among the sponsors of the festival.