Art and Experience: The Los Angeles Greek Film Festival wrapped its 10th edition Sunday at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theater with its annual Orpheus Awards.
“Riverbanks” won for best fiction feature film. Directed by Panos Karkanevatos, the pic centers on two drifters, each with a hazardous profession, who try to cheat death with love.
Jim Gianopulos, chairman and CEO 20th Century Fox, and Oscar-winning actor J.K. Simmons received honorary Opheus Awards.
Gianopulos was recognized for his steadfast support of LAGFF. In accepting the honor, the Fox topper recalled how his love for film was fed by his boyhood visits with his family to the Cameo theater on New York’s Eighth Ave., which showed Greek movies on the one day per week when it wasn’t projecting porn films.
Simmons, best supporting actor Oscar winner for “Whiplash,” was a lead actor in fest entry “Worlds Apart,” the biggest box office success in Greece in many years.
The film, directed by Christopher Papakaliatis, centers on three love stories between Greeks and foreigners. It dissects the fissures of today’s Greece, where a perfect storm of financial crisis, an imposed austerity program, and a huge wave of illegal immigrants from the Middle East are eating away at the social fabric.
The three stories meld at the film’s surprising – and tragic – conclusion.
“World’s Apart” was the fest’s closing film in its North American premiere. It won LAGFF’s Audience Award, and one of its stars, Maria Kavogianni, won the Orpheus for best performance.
“Exotica, Erotica, Etc.” won for best documentary film. “Golden Dawn: A Personal Affair” won an honorable mention for documentary.
The Van Vlahakis Award for best short fiction film went to “Stagnation,” a Norwegian production about a desperate Athens shopkeeper struggling to keep his head above water.
An MFI scholarship and Aegean Award went to Nazli Elif Durlu for “Zuhal,” with an honorable mention to Harris Raftogiannis for “The River”
The Orpheus Awards were produced by Dorothea Paschalidou, directed by Yorgos Karamihos and hosted by Mena Suvari .
In his opening remarks, fest creative director Aris Katopodis emphasized that “this 10th LAGFF is almost history, but it is also one that made history: most films ever, 56; most filmmakers present, 58; most North American premieres, 24; and largest attendance.
The sold out Egyptian Theater was peppered throughout the evening with 40 students from the Stella Adler Acting Academy dressed to honor various periods in the history of cinema.
Katopodis introduced festival co-founders Ersi Danou and Angeliki Giannakopoulos. Among others, Danou thanked executive producer Alex Kalognomos and coproducer Eleni Arvaniti.
Giannakopoulos recalled that when they conceived the idea for LAGFF, all the festival directors in town told them they would not last four years. “To them, I say ‘screw you,’” she said.
This year marks the 10th LAGFF.