The Vancouver Greek Film Festival returns for a second year, running from June 1 to 4 at the Cinematheque.
"The second annual Vancouver Greek Film Festival means that there was so much enthusiasm for the first annual VGFF that everyone wanted to do it again,” curator and co-founder Harry Killas told the Straight. "I am a firm believer in starting and maintaining a tradition, an event that we are committed to and that can continue.”
Part of the Hellenic Canadian Congress of BC’s Greek Heritage Month activities, which culminates in “Greek Day on Broadway” on June 25, the festival places emphasis on Greek history and culture, depicted through the lenses of Greek filmmakers.
“The essence of Greek cinema is its diverse and intricate embrace of how to picture life’s experiences,” said Christos Dikeakos, one of the co-founders of the Vancouver Greek Film Festival, in a release.
The programming for 2023 moves across four themes: From the Archive, Celebrating Greek Auteurs and Artists, Contemporary Greek Cinema, and Greeks in Diaspora.
“It’s an opportunity to dive into contemporary and historic Greek cinema… get the word out about Greece’s rich legacies of cinema and culture, and provide opportunities for audiences including Greeks in diaspora to participate in creative and artistic interpretations of contemporary Greek society," Killas said. “For me personally, as a Greek-Canadian, it is also a source of some pride as well.”
Opening night will feature Elia Kazan’s 1963 epic America America, which translates Kazan’s own family myths into a story of immigrant survival. Other festival highlights include famed Greek auteur Theo Angelopoulos’ 1970 debut, the murder mystery Reconstruction, where a judge, policemen and journalists attempt to piece together a series of curious events that led to a mysterious death.
The festival includes contemporary works alongside classic cinema. “When people think of Greek culture, they often associate it with the ancient past,” added Dikeakos. However, one of the event’s goals is to celebrate film as art and include more modern experiences of Greek culture, such as closing night’s feature-length documentary, Olympia—a tribute to the late Olympia Dukakis, an Academy Award-winning actress best known for her roles in Moonstruck and Steel Magnolias.
While not officially listed as a theme, another prominent thread running through the festival’s programming celebrates the contributions of Greek women in film. Holy Emy, directed by Araceli Lemos—who won Best Film Director at the 2022 Hellenic Film Academy Awards—is one such example, telling the story of two sisters living as new immigrants in a Filipino Catholic community in Athens.
“In particular, Greek cinema has been making breakthroughs in storytelling in recent years, with women directors leading the way,” said Dikeakos. “We’re excited to be able to share a tightly curated program that offers a unique chance to discover the riches of Greek cinema.”
The Vancouver Greek Film Festival takes place at the Cinematheque at 1131 Howe Street. Tickets cost $14 and can be purchased here.