Los Angeles Greek Film Festival Concludes with Orpheus Award Ceremony

Rita Moreno and George Chakiris at the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival where Moreno presented her West Side Story co-star and fellow Oscar winner with an honorary Orpheus Award. Photo: Manos PR

LOS ANGELES – The 12th Annual Los Angeles Film Festival (LAGFF) wrapped up with the Orpheus Awards presented on June 10. Academy Award-winner George Chakiris was honored at the ceremony with an award presented by his West Side Story co-star and fellow Oscar-winner Rita Moreno.

Closing Night at the Egyptian featured West Coast premiere of Thodoris Atheridis’ Perfect Strangers, followed by the star-studded Orpheus Awards Ceremony, reception, and entertainment with Annet Artani, the Greek Rebetiko Trio, Chuck Dukas (Master of Ceremonies), and stand-up comedian ANT (Anthony Steven Kalloniatis).

This years’ Festival honored George Chakiris, with an honorary Orpheus Award presented by Rita Moreno at the finale of the Orpheus Awards ceremony. Chakiris is best known for his role as Bernardo, leader of the Sharks in West Side Story, for which he won the Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. In 1974, Chakiris made his film debut in the chorus of Song of Love. Later he appeared in several small roles, usually as a dancer or a member of the chorus in various musical films. He was one of the dancers in Marilyn Monroe’s “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” number in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes released in 1953. In addition to films, Chakiris performed on Broadway and television and was a graduate of the American School of Dance. Over the years, he worked with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars including Charlton Heston, Yvette Mimieux and Gene Kelly.

Orpheus Awards Presenters:

Award-winning Gold recording artist Vassy (Karagiorgos), whose single We Are Young reached No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Dance Chart, making her the first Australian artist to go No. 1 with her solo single debut release. Vassy’s collaboration with David Guetta and Showtek on the song Bad, became seven times double platinum and established her in the electronic dance music scene. Vassy’s music incorporates dance, reggae, and soul as a base for her vocal styling. Both her parents are from Greece. www.vassymusic.com @vassy.

Constantinos Isaias, Aristotle Katopodis- Artistic & Festival Director, Rita Moreno, honoree George Chakiris, and Thespina Patronas at the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival. Photo by Roger Memos

Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks is the President and CEO of Earth Friendly Products.

Australian Actor Thaao Penghlis is best known for roles in soap operas such as Days of Our Lives, Santa Barbara, and General Hospital, but has also guest-starred on a number of crime dramas, such as Kojak, Cannon, Tenspeed and Brown Shoe, Hart to Hart, Nero Wolfe, and Magnum, P.I.. He also starred in the late 1980s remake of Mission: Impossible.

Valorie Massalas is an Emmy-nominated casting director and producer, who co-produced and cast the acclaimed Gods and Monsters, nominated for three Oscars, including Ian McKellan for best actor and Lynn Redgrave for best supporting actress. The writer/director Bill Condon was also nominated for best screenplay, and received an Oscar. Prior to that, in Chaplin, Massalas cast Robert Downey Jr., who also received an Oscar nomination for his touching performance of the Hollywood icon. Her company Massalas/Digman/Casting continues to work on major indie feature film projects with A-list talent.

Award-winning casting director / producer Ronnie Yeskel is best known for her work on Pulp Fiction, The Sessions and Igby Goes Down.

Writer-Producer-Director Penelope Spheeris launched her career by producing short subjects for comedian Albert Brooks, many of which became highlights in the first season of Saturday Night Live. Her first feature film was The Decline of Western Civilization (1981), a punk rock documentary that she produced as well as directed. She followed up with The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years, about the Los Angeles heavy metal scene of 1988, with footage and interviews of legendary metal bands Kiss, Ozzy Osbourne, Aerosmith, Megadeth, and Motörhead. She worked as a writer for the TV series Roseanne and directed the movie Wayne’s World, which grossed over $183 million. Other films Spheeris directed include The Beverly Hillbillies; The Little Rascals (for which she co-wrote the screenplay); the Chris Farley comedy Black Sheep; the Marlon Wayans-David Spade team-up Senseless; and The Kid & I starring Tom Arnold. She received an Honorary Orpheus Award in 2009.

Rita Moreno belongs to an elite group of only 12 living performers who have won entertainment’s grand slam of the industry’s most prestigious awards, the EGOT: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony. Creative diversity has been the hallmark of Moreno’s 70-year career (film, stage, television, singer, voiceover animation, author, guest artist with sympathy orchestras, lecturer).

Aristotle Katopodis- Artistic & Festival Director, Rita Moreno, honoree George Chakiris, Thespina Patronas, and Eleni Arvaniti. Photo by Roger Memos