SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Greek Film Festival (SFGFF) wrapped its 18th annual event, which was presented April 16-25. The Festival screened twelve narrative features, seven documentaries, and seven narrative shorts by Greek and Cypriot filmmakers from around the world. The festival was held in mostly virtual platform, with one in person drive-in screening. Following the Festival's first experience with virtual presentations in October 2020, the recent series was even more successful, with a fifty percent increase in films streamed, and another sold-out drive-in event. All virtual screenings were offered free of charge, as a gift to the community. Many generous audience members made optional donations, which are greatly appreciated and help the Festival continue its mission.
The SFGFF viewers for the 2021 online screenings responded to prompts to rate each film after each screening, allowing the overall favorites to be named in the audience favorite Astron Awards. When the ratings were tallied, the Astron Award for narrative feature film was awarded to Tailor, directed by Sonia Liza Kenterman, while the Astron Award for narrative short film went to Parrot Lady, directed by Michael Kalopaidis, and the Astron Award for documentary to Athos, The World's Brightest Peak, directed by Argyris Liapis.
This year's SFGFF featured the first Jury Awards for the event. The Best Narrative Short Jury Award winner is Bella, directed by Thelyia Petraki. The jury, comprised of Jon Bastian, Allie Light, and Lansia Wann, stated: “This short film is a unique take on a singular POV narrative. Bella not only meshes found footage seamlessly with new, but as it progresses, it becomes more relatable. As it progresses, the emotional connection grows stronger. As it progresses, it reveals the ups and downs of someone's life story. Then, in the end, even without sharing any commonalities to this person's life, you strangely feel akin.”
This award comes with a monetary compensation of $500, graciously underwritten by Kleon Stephen Skourtis and Demetrios Skourtis in loving memory of their mother.
The 2021 Best Documentary Jury Award winner is Passage to Europe, directed by Dimitra Kouzi. In the words of jury members babaLou, Karen Larsen, and Henry S. Rosenthal: “Passage to Europe is an intimate portrait of Fotis Psycharis, whose passion for teaching is matched only by his compassion for his charismatic students. The filmmaker's extraordinary access and skilled technique takes the viewer past the inflammatory rhetoric surrounding global refugees to open hearts and minds to the resilient children facing unimaginable hardship.”
This award comes with a monetary reward of $1000, graciously underwritten by Nick and Athena Arvanitidis.
The 2021 Best Narrative Feature Jury Award winner is Pari, directed by Siamak Etemadi. Jury members Barry Caine, Kara Herold, and Ruthe Stein praised the drama as “a deeply moving film focusing on a dutiful Iranian mother's love for her son and her unexpected journey to discover her own identity, apart from the ties of religious conviction. Artistically crafted, Pari offers emotional catharsis as it winds its way in unpredictable directions that pull at your heartstrings, leaving behind indelible images of a life irrevocably changed.”
This award comes with a monetary reward of $1000, graciously underwritten by Dr. Alex and Mrs. Deirdre Papalexopoulous.
The Narrative jury also gave on honorable mention to Tailor, directed by Sonia Liza Kenterman, saying, “we loved Tailor for its quirky charm, cinematic storytelling and meticulousness in making the isolated title character and his work fascinating and, with few brushstrokes, the secondary characters engaging. [The film] successfully captures the humanity of its players and their evolution. Colorful, well-paced and well-acted; a creative blend of comedy and pathos.”
In an innovative offering to fans of the SFGFF, virtual events via Zoom are scheduled to honor winners of awards from the 2021 Festival:
The SFGFF 2021 Astron Award Winners Event takes place on Saturday, May 8, 11 AM Pacific time (U.S. and Canada)/ 9 PM Greece time, and features a discussion with the 2021 Astron Award Winners: The Parrot Lady director Michael Kalopaidis, Athos director Argyris Liapis, and Tailor director Sonia Liza Kenterman.
Register in advance for this webinar: shorturl.at/jvCHQ
The SFGFF 2021 Jury Award Winners Event on Saturday, May 15, 11 AM Pacific time (U.S. and Canada)/ 9 PM Greece time, features Bella director Thelyia Petraki, Passage to Europe director Dimitra Kouzi, and Pari director Siamak Etemadi.
Register in advance for this webinar: shorturl.at/oHJR4
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
More information about SFGFF is available online:https://grfilm.com/.