GR US

Hellenic Film Society Presents ‘A Look at Greek History through Film’ March 19-28

The National Herald

Christina (Tania Raymonde) and Tariq (Jan Uddin) share a private moment in the film Cliffs of Freedom. (Photo by Lewis Jacobs © 2020 National Hellenic Society. All rights reserved)

NEW YORK – The Hellenic Film Society USA (HFS) is celebrating 200 years of Greek independence with seven films and an original Netflix episode, all inspired by Greek history, from the Persian Wars to the present. From Hollywood epics to indie documentaries, an original Netflix episode, and two films that focus on the Greek Revolution of 1821, there is something for every film fan to enjoy!

Presentations are accompanied by interviews with filmmakers and other conversations that provide historical context and insights about the making of the film.

Cliffs of Freedom and the pilot episode of Blood of Zeus are available free of charge. The remaining six films can be purchased separately or all together for the special revolutionary price of $18.21!

This month’s programming is made possible, in part, by generous support from The Greek Online School.

America America, written and directed by Elia Kazan, is available for streaming March 19-21 only. In the late 1890s, a young man leaves his impoverished village in Turkish Anatolia for Constantinople and eventually fulfills his dream of coming to America, but not before he faces cruelties and betrayals along the way. Based loosely on the life of his uncle, this was Kazan's favorite among his 19 feature films. Featuring an unforgettable score by Manos Hadjidakis, this Oscar-winning film is one of the most stunningly poetic and powerful immigration sagas ever filmed. Following the feature film presentation, HFS presents an interview with film historian Foster Hirsch and Greek-American former HBO executive, Kary Antholis, who discuss the significance of Kazan’s award-winning film.

Beneath the Olive Tree, directed by Stavroula Toska, is an award-winning documentary that unearths the story behind secret diaries found buried on the Greek island of Trikeri. Written by female political exiles during the Greek Civil War in the late 1940s, the journals reveal inspirational stories of thousands of women imprisoned in Greek concentration camps. Director Stavroula Toska journeys from New York to Greece to examine a largely unknown part of women's history and, in the process, discovers an earth-shattering family secret. Narrated by Oscar-winner Olympia Dukakis. Awards include Best Documentary at the Santa Fe Film Festival. Following the documentary presentation, HFS presents an interview with Toska, who provides historical context and background on her film.

Blood of Zeus, Episode 1: A Call to Arms, created and written by Charley and Vlas Parlapanides, (In English 2020 / 28 minutes), follows a commoner living in ancient Greece, Heron who discovers his true heritage as a son of Zeus, and his purpose: to save the world from a demonic army. In this pilot episode of the hit anime Netflix original series, Blood of Zeus, demons attack the polis near the home of the outcast Heron, who finds allies in the wise elder Elias and the fierce Amazonian warrior Alexia.

Blood of Zeus, shown free of charge, is made available courtesy of Netflix. Following the pilot presentation, HFS presents an interview with the series creators, Greek-Americans Charley and Vlas Parlapanides, who discuss the show’s origins and their plans for Season 2; how two brothers from a big Greek family in New Jersey, one an investment analyst and the other a law school graduate, broke into the movie business; and how being Greek has influenced their filmmaking over the years.

Also available, Cliffs of Freedom is being presented at no cost to our viewers, courtesy of the National Hellenic Society. Following the film HFS presents and interview with director Van Ling and actors Tania Raymonde (Anna Christina), Jan Uddin (Tariq), and Costas Mandylor (Constantine).

God Loves Caviar, directed by Yannis Smaragdis, features the epic story of Greek patriot Ioannis Varvakis (1745-1825) brought to vivid life by an international cast in this visually striking film. Varvakis rose from humble beginnings to become a confidante of Catherine the Great (Catherine Deneuve), who granted him trading rights to Russian caviar. Enterprising and tirelessly inventive, Varvakis headed one of the largest mercantile empires in Europe and became an early benefactor of the new Greek nation.

Prior to the feature presentation, director Yannis Smaragdis introduces the film with a few words about why he made a movie about Ioannis Varvakis.

The Road to Sparta, directed by Roddy Gibson and Barney Spender, is an award-winning documentary about four runners, including ultramarathon runner Dean Karnazes, competing in the Spartathlon, the grueling 153-mile foot race between the Greek cities of Athens and Sparta. Following the documentary presentation, HFS presents an audio interview with director Barney Spender and ultramarathon runner Dean Karnazes, featured in the film.

Searching for Andreas: Political Leadership in Times of Crisis, directed by Harris Mylonas and Theo Prodromidis, explores the life of one of Europe's most controversial political leaders of the 20th century. The legacy of Greek Prime Minister Andreas G. Papandreou is still felt 24 years after his death. Following the documentary presentation, HFS presents a discussion by distinguished Greek journalist Katerina Sokou and filmmaker Harris Mylonas about Papandreou’s legacy in the aftermath of the Greek debt crisis.

The film 300, directed by Zack Snyder, is available for streaming March 26-28 only. Though certain death awaits the 300 Spartans, their sacrifice inspires all of Greece to unite against their common enemy. Award-winning Hollywood spectacle with intense battle scenes and a cast of thousands. Following the film presentation, HFS presents an interview with writer-director Zack Snyder.

More information is available online: https://hellenicfilmusa.org/events.