LOS ANGELES, CA – Director George Kordellas’ emotional drama Roza of Smyrna had its U.S. premiere at the 12th Annual South East European(SEE) Film Festival in Los Angeles.
For the first time there were 5 entries of Greek films, with the Greek film Limbo winning the award for Best Short. A dark and artistic film with interesting visuals directed by Konstantina Kotzamani.
Roza of Smyrna brought an emotional ending to the festival’s closing night. The Greek movie was directed skillfully by director George Kordellasin his first feature film debut. The film is based on the Giannis Giannellis-Theodosiadis’ novel Ismael and Roza and it was filmed in Athens, Mytilene, Constantinople,and Smyrna.A story of a forbidden love between Roza and her Turkish lover Ismaelthat took a tragic turn, was set in the time of the Asia Minor Disaster.
The story is reincarnated whenDimitris, an art collector in search of the origins of his new exhibition,discovers in an antic shop Roza’s bloody wedding dress and a hidden letter. Tasos Nousias inhabits the role ofDimitri,who patiently peels off the many intricate layers of the story as well as Roza’s resistance to revisit her painful past. Roza’s granddaughter Marianna, played charmingly by Evgenia Dimitropoulou, comes to the art collector’s aid and along the way find themselves irresistibly attractive to each other. Roza, played by Lida Protopsalti, eventually agrees to take the difficult path or relieving her past and that leads her to an unexpected reunion.
The movie stirs powerful emotions that deal with love, war and reconciliation. AssociateProducer Ioanna Bolomytiwhen asked how did the movie come together she explained that “The producer of the film Panos Papahadzis was the one who presented me with the idea that he wanted to produced the film based on the novel. I was intrigued and excited with the strong narrative, the dress and the hidden letter,” she told TNH.
Another strong offering was the film My Aunt in Sarajevo, which is the story of Bosnian refugee Zlatan, who works in Sweden as a construction worker and one day is forced to return home after his Swedish born daughter Anja, portrayed by Julia Ragnarsson, purchased two tickets to Bosnia in search of her family roots.
Actor Milan Dragisic who played the role of Zlatan in the Q&A following the screening said that the emotionally charged scenes while confronting his past life in Sarajevo “drained him physically and emotionally to the point that he needed a few days to recover after filming was done.” The picture earned director Goran Kapetanovic, the Swedish equivalent of the Academy’sBest Director Oscar, the Guldbagge Award for Best Director and actress Sadzida Setic won the Gudlbagge Award for Best Actress in a Supporting role. The screening of the film was preceded by the short film Refugee 532 and it is the director’s real life account of survival as a12 year old refugee in Sweden.
The SEE’s Audience Award went to That Trip We Took With Dad. Anca Miruna Lazarescu’s family account of yet another return to the homeland with the backdrop of the “Prague Spring” asks a simple question “How truly free are we when we chose freedom?” As this was the director’s first feature film, winning four awards at the SEE Fest in Los Angeles “made me proud and grateful for the recognition and it gives me the trust to continue my work.” director Lazarescutold TNH.
The SEE Fest was founded by Vera Mijojlic to promote issue driven films that originate from the South East region of Europe that also transcend cultures and borders. Now in its 12th year, the festival has grown tremendously. When the festival was incorporated in 2006 it presented 12 films, and this year there were 56 film screenings.