The San Francisco Greek Film Festival (SFGFF) announced its programming for their 2021 event which will take place from April 16-25.
The Festival will be held online with one in person drive-in event, with all virtual screenings available free of charge. The program details are now online, with ticketing available, all via the virtual Festival portal (click here).
The Festival team successfully held a previous virtual event in October 2020, and with that very positive experience under their belt, they look forward to sharing new film programs in the upcoming 18th annual Festival.
Continuing another popular feature from last year’s Festival, the upcoming event will include a drive-in movie presentation, to be held at Par 3 at Poplar Creek in San Mateo, on Sunday evening, April 18; other details are to be announced, including film program and admission charge.
Until indoor theatres are able to reopen, the nostalgic experience of a drive-in movie is a safe opportunity to watch a film in person with an audience, and the SFGFF is delighted to gather their fans together for this special event.
“Since the world isn’t quite ready for audiences to gather as we’ve been used to, we’re ready and proud to present the 2021 San Francisco Greek Film Festival primarily virtually, with a fun drive-in event,” SFGFF Director Maria Nicolacakis says. “Holding the first ever SFGFF virtual event last year was such a joy, with great audience response. We’re delighted to offer our online screenings free of charge again, with thanks and acknowledgment to our sponsors and supporters, as we continue to fulfill our mission to present Greek and Cypriot films.”
Complete information about the films screening in the festival follows below the trailer.
Feature Films in the 2021 San Francisco Greek Film Festival
Athos, the world’s brightest peak – Greece, 2020, 60 min, directed by Argyris Liapis
Three monks from Mount Athos, the largest monastic center of Orthodox Christianity, share their thoughts about faith, Monasticism, their decision to become monks, their lives in Mount Athos and the monastic community. The camera travels through the peninsula of Agion Oros, reaches pristine places and the summit of Mount Athos, recording snapshots from monks’ everyday lives and also images that are unknown even to regular visitors of the Holy Mountain. In Greek with English subtitles.
Ballad for a Pierced Heart – Greece, France, Germany, Cyprus, 2020, 140 min, directed by Yannis Economides
Having had enough of her uncouth husband, Iraklis, a rich businessman from the Greek provinces, Olga elopes with her lover Manos – but not without first pocketing a million of her husband’s euros. This is too much for Iraklis, who feels that his honour has been violated. Desperate, he contacts the local mafia, who is supposed to get his cash back and bury the lovers. But the underworld spins into turmoil at the thought of so much money. When passion meets greed, the corpses begin to pile up. In Greek with English subtitles. For mature audiences only (strong language, violence, sexuality).
[comedy, drama, thriller]
Defunct – Greece, 2019, 100 min, directed by Zacharias Mavroeidis
Following financial ruin, thirty-something bachelor Aris moves into his late grandfather’s house, Aristides, a Greek Army veteran. As Aris reunites with old friends, life in conservative Papagou, the suburb of Army Generals, turns into a wishful new beginning. While rebooting his business and settling in, he inadvertently steps into his grandfather’s “slippers” and old family secrets. Through remodeling the family hero, Aris eventually reinvents himself. In Greek with English subtitles.
Green Sea – Greece, Germany, 2020, 95 min, directed by Angeliki Antoniou
Anna has lost her memory but she hasn’t forgotten how to cook. One night she shows up in a working class neighborhood. There she meets Roula and gets a job as a cook and a place to stay at his shabby seaside tavern. In the kitchen, amidst the scents of spices and old forgotten recipes, Anna struggles to rebuild her past. Her simple but delicious food awakens memories for the regulars who in turn help her to reconnect with herself. The story takes an unexpected turn when Roula discovers Anna’s true identity. In Greek with English subtitles.
[drama, women filmmakers]
In the wine dark sea – United States, 2020, 96 min, directed by Chrisa Giorgi
Wine-growers, oenologists, wine-makers, sommeliers, university professors, chefs, wine critics and masters of wine, guide us in a journey through time, following the paths of Homer to discover “the island called Crete, in the midst of the wine dark sea”. The viewer travels through the vineyards found in the valleys and the mountains of Crete and discovers the secrets of eleven indigenous grape varieties and tastes the life and winemaking philosophy of eleven passionate producers. Then the viewer travels to the USA to discover how to pair the wines with international cuisine and hear how wine experts perceive the wines of Crete as they taste them for the first time. In English and Greek with English subtitles.
[documentary, women filmmakers]
The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea – Greece, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, 2019, 121 min, directed by Syllas Tzoumerkas
In a small eel-farming town in the west of Greece, two women live solitary lives while dreaming of getting away. Elisabeth is a once-ambitious policewoman forced to relocate from Athens ten years ago and now living a joyless, hung-over life; Rita is the quiet, mysterious sister of a lounge singer in the local disco. When a sudden death upsets the town and turns the local community upside-down, the two women who had been ignoring each other’s existence begin drifting towards each other. As the secrets hidden in the swamps begin to surface, they will have a chance to become each other’s saviours. In Greek with English subtitles. For mature audience only (strong language, violence, sexuality).
My Rembetika Blues – Australia, 2020, 83 min, directed by Mary Zournazi
Rembetika music or the Greek blues is a music born of exile and the streets. Developing its roots from the mass migration of people in the early twentieth century, filmmaker M. Zournazi traces the journey of her forebears from Smyrna in Turkey to Sydney Australia but discovers more than family history, she finds out how music connects people during times of struggle and crises. By weaving together different stories of music and migration, she documents experiences that are often left out of the chronicles of history. In English, and Greek with English subtitles.
[documentary, women filmmakers]
Not to be Unpleasant but we need to have a serious talk – Greece, 2019, 100 min, directed by Giorgos Georgopoulos
Aris, a very successful sales manager, is going through the most crucial week of his life. Starting from a random blood donation, womanizer Aris finds out he’s carrying a rapidly spread sexually transmitted virus that is lethal for women. Trying to find out who is the woman that gave him the virus by meeting a different one of his exes each day of an entire week, Aris will have to face the consequences of his past choices and actions. In Greek with English subtitles.
Pari – Greece, France, Netherlands, Bulgaria, 2020, 101 min, directed by Siamak Etemadi
Babak, an Iranian student in Greece, doesn’t show up at the Athens airport to welcome his visiting parents. Pari and her older husband, both devout Muslims abroad for the first time, are ill-prepared to search for their son in an intimidating and alien environment. All their attempts to find a clue that might lead them to him prove to be in vain and they soon reach a dead end. But Pari can’t give up looking for him, even when returning to Iran seems like her only choice. Following the steps of her rebellious son in the darkest corners of the city, she will exhaust her inner strength to achieve more than a mother’s search for her missing son. In Persian, English, and Greek, with English subtitles. For mature audiences only.
Tailor – Greece, Germany, Belgium, 2020, 100 min, directed by Sonia Liza Kenterman
Nikos lives in the attic of the family’s tailor shop. When the bank threatens to repossess the shop and his father falls ill, Nikos takes action: with a wondrously strange tailor shop on wheels, he reinvents himself while bringing style and confidence to the women of Athens. In Greek with English subtitles.
[comedy, drama, women filmmakers]
The Unlost Homeland – Greece, 2020, 131 min, directed by Eftychia Fragou
The Unlost Homeland follows the story of 12 Greeks from Constantinople who lived through the Istanbul pogrom of 1955 in Turkey. It is notorious in modern history as the only pogrom of such magnitude to have taken place during peacetime. The camera lens, together with the presenter, transport us to the stories of all the refugees who were forced to leave their country, as well as of one Turk who is in self-exile. These are the stories of everyday people who were brutally uprooted. In Greek with English subtitles.
[documentary, women filmmakers]
Short Films in the 2021 San Francisco Greek Film Festival
The Arm Wrestler – Greece, 2019, 22 min, directed by Georgios Gousis
Panayiotis is a 30-year-old champion at arm wrestling and owner of a tavern in a remote Greek village. On the occasion of a forthcoming arm-wrestling fight in Athens and his training for it, the film builds the portrait of a young man who shifts daily between his dreams and the reality of life in the Greek countryside. In Greek with English subtitles.
Bella – Greece, 2020, 24 min, directed by Thelyia Petraki
Greece 1986-1987, a little before the fall of State Socialism and just at the end of the Cold War. In front of Anthi’s eyes the country is changing, the world is changing and with them Christos seems to be changing too. In English and Greek with English subtitles.
[drama, women filmmakers]
The Call – United Kingdom, 2020, 10 min, directed by Marios Psaras
A transgender woman receives a call from her brother letting her know that their mother has passed. She is given the details of the funeral and is asked to come back to Cyprus for the funeral, but as her old self and not her new and true self. The difficulty of the conversation and the request is too much. In Greek with English subtitles. For mature audiences only (strong language).
Cast-Outs – Greece, 2020, 15 min, directed by Alexandros Romanos Lizardos, Akis Melachris
Through faulty handling that leads to the collapse of a penitentiary and mass escapes, newly appointed Jail-R suffers multiple fractures and loses his job. While convalescing, he is hired as a bank security guard. When the three masterminds behind the prison break hit the branch on his morning shift. Jail-R is called to rise to the occasion, with plaster cast and all. In Greek with English subtitles. For mature audiences only.
Draw with Me – United States, 2020, 25 min, directed by Constantine Venetopoul
The coming out journey of Brendon Scholl, a youth who identifies as Trans, and about how their art became their outlet for self-expression, while on the complex journey of having to be yourself in a world that at times struggles with diversity. The film features Jennifer Lopez – Brendon’s aunt – in a special introduction. In English.
Enter the Otter – Greece, 2020, 20 min, directed by Nikos Dayandas
A group of Athenian kids doing theater lose their protagonist, who is being bullied by an older boy. A part-time electrician and Kung Fu master comes to their aid. But in order to bring their friend back, they must first learn how to be a real team. In Greek with English subtitles.
[comedy , family-friendly]
Escaping the Fragile Planet – Greece, 2020, 17 min, directed by Thanasis Tsimpinis
A few hours before the world ends, two men have an unexpected encounter, while a strange pink fog is spreading throughout the city. Their romantic affair will only last for a day. But in a broken world filled with fear, sharing a few intimate moments seems to be enough for them to feel safe, against the upcoming end. In Greek with English subtitles.
Goads – Greece, 2020, 15 min, directed by Iris Baglanea
Ira lives with her family in a remote location in Greece. She will face one of the strongest experiences of her childhood during a “training” session with her father, who has a very specific view for life. In Greek with English subtitles.
[drama, women filmmakers]
Iro /he.roː/ – Greece, 2020, 15 min, directed by Alexis Koukias-Pantelis
Iro, an 8-year-old girl, is ready to take off on a short road trip with her mom and a superhero towards Lake Stymphalia. A car malfunction and a bus drivers’ strike will make their plans difficult, but with the help of the superhero they will hitchhike their way towards their destination. In Greek with English subtitles.
[comedy, drama, family-friendly]
The Jar – United Kingdom, 2020, 11 min, directed by Kyriakos Rontsis
Staring at a butterfly trapped in a jar, a boy ponders over the balance between protection and freedom. In Greek with English subtitles.
Madonna F64.0 – Greece, 2020, 18 min, directed by Stavros Markoulakis
After an important surgery, Maria returns to her family home to recover and live with her mother, her sister and a newborn baby. While Maria’s body starts healing, a deeply hidden desire of hers surfaces. Maria wants to come close to the baby, and this creates a serious threat to the “safety” of the family home. In Greek with English subtitles.
The Parrot Lady – Cyprus, 2020, 7 min, directed by Michalis Kalopaidis
Inspired by the true story of a woman living on the streets with her parrots, this animated short aims to raise awareness of the older members of our society – those who live alone, who have no one to turn to, and whose biggest fear is dying alone and unnoticed. In Greek with English subtitles.
Pashka – Greece, 2020, 22 min, directed by Oltjon Lipe
A father and a son drive towards the borders. The road is paved with memories of their life together. Away from home, they are making a living for themselves and their family. But the boy’s desire to return will lead to an unexpected journey. In Albanian and Greek with English subtitles.
Passage to Europe – Greece, 2021, 48 min, directed by Dimitra Kouzi
For 30 years now, Fotis Psycharis has been a primary teacher at a state elementary school in the heart of Athens. Reflecting the diversity of the neighborhood population, the majority of his pupils are refugee and immigrant children from Africa, the former USSR, the Balkans, the Middle East, and Asia, who often regard Greece as an unavoidable stop on their journey across Europe. Cultural differences, the lack of a common language, the Ramazan, Bollywood, the life lessons learned during the rehearsals for the graduation day performance, the hopes and fears for the future, all make up the unique reality of this class, consisting of 17 pupils from 7 countries. In Greek with English subtitles.
[documentary, women filmmakers]
Vouta – Greece, 2020, 18 min, directed by Dimitris Zahos
Vouta is a pigeon breed that flies all the way up to the clouds, then dives at 230 km/h and slows down just before reaching the ground. Christos is a teenager who lives in a disadvantaged neighbourhood of Athens. He has to find a way to avoid conflict with his father who just got home from prison, just like the pigeons he loves avoid collision. In Greek with English subtitles.
About the San Francisco Greek Film Festival
Started in 2004, the San Francisco Greek Film Festival (SFGFF) 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. With screenings of new, innovative, and highly acclaimed films and different events around the annual film Festival week, the SFGFF seeks to inspire, engage, and entertain its diverse audience. Throughout its history, the Festival has also featured screenings of classic films. Through the powerful medium of film, the Festival sustains, elevates and promotes Greek culture, history and language in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. The SFGFF has showcased some of the most highly regarded Greek/Cypriot films produced over the past 18 years. Since its founding, the film festival has showcased nearly 350 movies, hosted nearly 70 filmmakers as guests, and inspired, engaged and entertained over 15,000 attendees from San Francisco and throughout the Bay Area.
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. Sponsorship opportunities are available for the 2021 SFGFF; see the website grfilm.com for details.
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