NEW YORK – EMBCA, in association with the Hellenic Film Society USA and AHEPA, presented “The Life, Times, and Works of John Cassavetes” Panel Discussion at the 3 West Club in Manhattan on December 12 in honor of the 90th anniversary of his birth (December 9, 1929) and commemorating the 30th year of his passing. Celebrating the work of legendary Greek-American director, screenwriter, and actor John Cassavetes, the panel discussion offered insights into his contributions to American independent film. A three-time Academy Award nominee, Cassavetes was renowned for using improvisation and a cinema verite style.
Panelists include independent filmmaker John Sayles; film historian Foster Hirsch; Nicholas Alexiou, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Hellenic American Project at Queens College; and actor, producer, filmmaker George Zouvelos. The panel was moderated by George Stephanopoulos, independent film producer and media attorney. Born in New York and raised in Long Island, Cassavetes was a member of the AHEPA Astoria Hermes Chapter #186, which at the time was the largest AHEPA Chapter. Fellow Ahepans in the Hermes Chapter included well-known actor Telly Savalas.
The event was part of AHEPA’s Hellenic Cultural Commission/ Seraphim Canoutas Lecture Series with the AHEPA Empire State District and AHEPA Astoria Hermes Chapter #186.
The well-attended event brought together fans of Cassavetes’ work from all walks of life and included clips from his films and of Cassavetes himself to highlight the discussion. Among those present were Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras, the Consulate General in New York Cultural Attache and Public Relations Officer Evelyn Kanellea, EMBCA President and AHEPA District 6 Governor Lou Katsos, Hellenic Film Society USA President James DeMetro, Eva Mallis, Marina Bellessis Casoria, and many Ahepans including the Manhattan Delphi Chapter #25 President George Eliopoulos.
Sayles noted that Cassavetes was an inspiration to independent filmmakers like himself and pointed out that Cassavetes invented crowdsourcing as a means of funding with his first film Shadows which was released in 1959.
A clip from the film highlighted the improvisational style Cassavetes was known for as well as the film’s music, improvisational jazz. In a clip from Martin Scorsese’s interview with Cassavetes, he noted his great passion for filmmaking and authentic characters.
On Sunday, Dec. 15, 4 PM, the Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) will screen Gloria, one of Cassavetes’ most popular films. The film stars Gena Rowlands, Cassavetes’ wife and longtime collaborator, as a former gangster moll who reluctantly agrees to protect a 6-year-old boy being hunted by the mob. She summons all her street smarts and tough talk to save the boy and herself in a cat-and-mouse chase that takes them all across New York City. Rowlands earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her performance, and the film won the Golden Lion Award, the highest honor given at the 1980 Venice Film Festival.
“John Cassavetes left an indelible mark on American film in the 1960s through the ‘80s,” said James DeMetro, President of the Hellenic Film Society. “It is an honor for us to celebrate his contributions to cinema and to introduce his work to a new generation of audiences.”
For further information or to purchase tickets to either the panel discussion or the film screening, please visit www.hellenicfilmusa.org or call 646-844-1488 and follow on Facebook and Instagram.
The Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue in Astoria, is conveniently located near public transportation. When purchasing film tickets, please use discount code SUNDAY20.