As we celebrate the Greek Bicentennial this year the best we can on both sides of the Atlantic during the COVID pandemic, Greek-Americans and Greeks in Greece have been hearing a lot about the crucial role played by Diaspora Hellenes in the liberation of the homeland.
The many events – mostly virtual – and articles written about that great and noble endeavor often spotlight the importance of assistance from the Diaspora, it is not always noted that Diaspora generosity and leadership did not cease with the establishment of the modern Greek state. Substantial gifts and initiatives continued throughout the 19th and 20th centuries – and the needs and contributions continue to this day, in many forms, individual and collective.
Among the organizations that have stepped up in recent years to promote Hellenism in America and foster strong ties between the United States and Greece is The National Hellenic Society (NHS), a non-profit foundation based in the United States whose supporters and Board members include visionaries and philanthropists who are leaders in many fields, including Chairman Emeritus George M. Marcus and current Board Chairman Drake Behrakis and Executive Director Art Dimopoulos.
Appreciating the importance of telling the story of the heroism of the Hellenes in Greece who rose against 400 years of Ottoman oppression both in the Greek-American community as well as to our non-Greek fellow citizens, NHS recently completed the acquisition of all rights to a major motion picture, Cliffs of Freedom.
The film is an independent, historical drama and romance based and inspired on a novel written by Marianne Metropoulos titled Daughter of Destiny. The novel served as the springboard to the film produced by Marianne and her husband, financier Dean Metropoulos, with Marianne serving as co-writer of the screenplay. The movie stars Tania Raymonde playing the girl who becomes a local leader in the fight against the Turks and Jan Uddin, playing an Ottoman colonel conflicted about his orders to put down the Greek rebellion because of his respect for his mentor, a Greek elder and advisor to the Empire, brilliantly portrayed by the late Academy-Award winning actor, Christopher Plummer.
Greek-American actor Billy Zane plays a Greek who, like many of his countrymen at the time, unfortunately, favored the status quo he profited from, motivated more by greed than the cause of Greek independence.
The film is also welcome because it spotlights the leadership roles that some women played in the Greek revolution. As the Santa Fe Reporter noted of the character played by Tania Raymonde, “Anna Christina is seriously badass.”
NHS celebrated the Greek Bicentennial by announcing film’s availability on September 13, 2021 on major platforms including Amazon Prime, Apple, and Google Play. All net proceeds of the film will support NHS’ signature, Heritage Greece Program which in 2022 will sponsor 100+ students of Greek descent on a life-changing educational and cultural immersion experience shared with a peer group of students from the American College of Greece in Athens.
Leading members of the Community are already expressing their appreciation for the Cliffs of Freedom initiative, which hopefully opens the door to more film projects based on Greek themes, especially with the strong and growing Greek presence in Hollywood.