The New Greek Americans (1960-2018), the History of Greek Immigrants in LA

The National Herald Archive

LOS ANGELES - A standing-room-only audience from the Greek community in Los Angeles recently watched the third film in an ambitious trilogy dealing with the history of the Greek immigrants to this city. The screening took place at the Writers Guild Theatre in Beverly Hills.

The first film in the trilogy, “The Pioneers (1900-1942)”, began with the journey of the immigrants and focused on their struggle to build a community. The second, “The Promise of Tomorrow (1940-1960)”, highlighted the first generation’s achievements and showed how they made their presence felt in all professions.

The latest and final segment, “The New Greek Americans (1960-2018)”, looked at the baby boomers and the challenges they faced during the 1960’s social revolution while growing up in conservative Greek families.

Each of the three films investigated the major events that have affected Greek American communities locally and nationally. The significant question that emerges is: how long can their culture survive in the 21st Century?

The writer and director, Anna Giannotis, had this to say about the project. “In 1998 I was invited by Zoye Marino Fidler to join the Greek Heritage Society of Southern California and to create a documentary series based on the oral histories the organization had collected. After Olympia Dukakis agreed to come on board as our narrator and host we were able to raise financial support from the community and various sponsors.

“I found that these collective oral histories were not confined to southern California Greek immigrants. Any Greek living in the diaspora could relate to our story, because it became the story of all immigrants.”

The result of all this work was both impressive and important. Taken together, the three films capture the little known history of the Greeks in this part of the world in a vivid and engrossing way. Beautifully shot and edited, the trilogy is a visual feast and was a joy to watch and absorb. The stories told in “The New Greek Americans” (and in the other two films) had the ring of truth about them. They will not soon be forgotten or ignored. Kudos to the filmmakers and the Greek Heritage Society for putting together such a much-needed and comprehensive documentary.

Co-Executive Producer Shelly Papadopoulos joined the Greek Heritage Society in 1996. An accomplished fundraiser and grant writer, she readily offered her skills to raise the backing for the first film. Witnessing the success of “The Pioneers,” Shelly continued raising funds for the next two parts of the trilogy. “Each step of the way was a continual challenge”, she recalled. “We called on friends, family, businesses and organizations. Each film required several years of fundraising.” All in all the trilogy took 16 years to complete. “But we are so proud and pleased with the result,” It was well worth it.”

“Now with the completion of “The New Greek Americans,” said Anna Giannotis, “we will be entering it in film festivals and hope to air all three segments in the USA and Greece. Personally, I hope a young filmmaker from the community may pick up where we left off and continue the series for generations to come. Who knows what will transpire in the next twenty or thirty years?”

Here are some additional responses to the film:

“I feel ‘The New Greek Americans 1960-Present’ is the fitting conclusion to a masterful trilogy: so forward-looking and aspirational!” “A labor of love, lovingly well-done." ---Mike Sakellarides, 94.7 The WAVE, Los Angeles

"As a former Greek language teacher and now a yiayia of six, I value this great work as a teaching tool for our children and grandchildren. My eight year old granddaughter, who was very excited to attend the premiere said as we were leaving, "I must learn Greek"! BRAVO!!! ----Irene Greanias

"The New Greek Americans 1960-2018" documentary was a difficult task and they delivered with absolute success. Greeks and Greek Americans need these kind of efforts which record the recent history of our country. I hope the Greek Heritage Society of southern California will continue their invaluable work." Evgenia Beniatoglou Consul General of Greece in Los Angeles

"All of us were able to relate to the people in the film. In addition, this film gave hope to the new immigrants currently arriving in America that anything is possible with hard work, determination and faith. Thank you to all who were involved with this important piece of history." Dena Romios Power Muse Productions

Writer/Director: Anna Giannotis Producer: Antonia Lianos Hosted and Narrated by Olympia Dukakis Executive Producers: Zoye Marino Fidler, Shelly Papadopoulos and Harry Ratner Director of Photography: Philip Georgious Editor: Hughes Hall Composer: Bob Luna