NEW YORK – The Modern Hellenic Film Industry: A Current Case Study featured actress/producer Zina Anaplioti-Wilde and her friends and collaborators actor/director Clem McIntosh and casting director Jessica Kelly with New York Greek Film Festival Director James Demetro as moderator. The lively and informative panel discussion was presented by the East Mediterranean Business Culture Alliance (EMBCA) at the 3 West Club in Midtown Manhattan on May 23.
EMBCA President Lou Katsos offered the opening remarks noting that this was the final event of a successful season which included a total of eleven well-attended and diverse events. The film discussion also included a screening of two short films, Puzzled and In Private, produced, written by and starring Anaplioti. McIntosh costarred and also directed the films. A Q&A session with the enthusiastic audience members followed.
Originally from Thessaloniki, Anaplioti moved to New York to attend New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where she earned her BFA in Acting. Since then, she has appeared on the New York stage and in numerous films and TV shows. Most notably she portrays Helena on the hit show Billions which airs on Showtime. The show, Anaplioti noted, will be returning for a 3rd season and she will be back for filming in September. She has also appeared on NBC’s Blacklist and acted alongside Richard Dreyfuss in the ABC mini-series Madoff.
One of her favorite experiences has been working on the critically acclaimed, indie film The Bleeder with Liev Schreiber and Elizabeth Moss. As a producer, Anaplioti is very excited to be working on her own projects including three recently finished which are now being submitted to festivals. Her near future goal is to create content in Greece and mix her Greek roots with American film.
Casting Director Jessica Kelly’s selected recent and notable films include: John Wick 2, Jackie, Don’t Think Twice, Demolition, John Wick, The Wolverine, Noah, The Other Woman, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Southpaw, Labor Day, Young Adult, Lola Versus, Precious, The Wrestler.
Her casting work in TV includes Madoff, Blindspot, The Blacklist, Person of Interest, Believe, Zero Hour, Pan Am, and Mercy. Kelly noted that she keeps a list of actors in her head to cast in the roles from the scripts that come across her desk and while casting, she also casts friendships as well. When casting, Kelly is reading an actor’s essence, observing that “Zina is so bright and charismatic,” she was able to cast her in several projects.
McIntosh has appeared in a multitude of TV shows, films, and off-Broadway plays. Among them, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, The Lottery, Person of Interest, Hulu’s The Path, and Netflix’s Master of None. He also produces and directs his own content, and is currently in post-production for 8 different short films.
Anaplioti shared her remarkable real-life story which inspired a film project set to begin filming this summer in Greece. She said, “It was June of 2012, I had one suitcase to my name when I left my comfortable Upper East Side apartment to head to Thessaloniki to get married. The plan was to come back with my Canadian husband and star in my first big movie after the festivities. Fate took a different turn. I was banned from the US for life by mistake.”
It was assumed during an interview that she had overstayed her visa ten years earlier when in fact she had not. All her paperwork was in order, but one clerical error prevented her from returning home.
Only one other person was banned for life from entering the US and had the decision reversed, John Lennon. Anaplioti noted that her lawyer was the son of Lennon’s lawyer who was able to get the decision reversed.
“Through this experience I felt the responsibility to make my voice heard and speak for all the people that weren’t able to reverse such a decision, or that are unable to pursue their dreams and aspirations,” she said, “Our goal is to make one short film this summer in Thessaloniki and Halkidiki and raise enough funds to make our feature movie that would tackle the important and relevant subject of immigration. More than ever before this is a subject that needs to be addressed. I consider both places my home; Greece and the USA. I am very proud to now hold a green card after the herculean task of acquiring it. I am also very proud to be Greek.”
Anaplioti and her colleagues are currently raising funds for their production and hope the support of the Greek community will bring investors to her unique project.