Hellenic Film Society USA Celebrates 200 Years of Greek Independence through 8 films March 19-28

1821-2021
Celebrating the 200th Anniversary
of Greek Independence

A Look at Greek History through Film
March 19-28, 2021
We are proud to celebrate 200 years of Greek independence with seven films and an original Netflix episode, all inspired by Greek history, from the Persian Wars to the present. From Hollywood epics to indie documentaries, an original Netflix episode, and two films that focus on the Greek Revolution of 1821, we offer something for everyone! 
 
Presentations are accompanied by interviews with filmmakers and other conversations that provide historical context and insights about the making of the film.
 
Cliffs of Freedom and the pilot episode of Blood of Zeus are available free of charge. The remaining six films can be purchased separately or, better yet, watch them all for the special revolutionary price of $18.21!
 
This month’s programming is made possible, in part, by generous support from The Greek Online School. HFS PASSAMERICA AMERICA
Written and directed by Elia Kazan 
In English
 1963 / 174 min
 
Cast: Stathis Giallelis (Stavros Topouzoglou), Frank Wolff (Vartan), Harry Davis (Isaac Topouzoglou), Elena Karam (Vaso Topouzoglou), Estelle Hemsley (Grandmother Topouzoglou), Gregory Rozakis (Hohannes), Lou Antonio (Osman), Salem Ludwig (Odysseus Topouzoglou), Johanna Frank (Vartuhi)

Available for streaming March 19-21 only
 
In the late 1890s, a young man leaves his impoverished village in Turkish Anatolia for Constantinople and eventually fulfills his dream of coming to America, but not before he faces cruelties and betrayals along the way.  Based loosely on the life of his uncle, this was Kazan’s favorite among his 19 feature films. Featuring an unforgettable score by Manos Hadjidakis, this Oscar-winning film is one of the most stunningly poetic and powerful immigration sagas ever filmed.
 
Elia Kazan gives a penetrating, thorough and profoundly affecting account of the hardships endured and surmounted at the turn of the century by a young Greek lad in attempting to fulfill his cherished dream—getting to America from the old country.”  —Variety
 
Following the feature film presentation, we are pleased to present an interview with film historian Foster Hirsch and former HBO executive, Kary Antholis, who discuss the significance of Elia Kazan’s award-winning film.
 WATCH TRAILERBUY TICKETSBENEATH THE OLIVE TREE
Directed by Stavroula Toska
In Greek and English, with English subtitles
 2020 / 76 min

 
This award-winning documentary unearths the story behind secret diaries found buried on the Greek island of Trikeri. Written by female political exiles during the Greek Civil War in the late 1940s, the journals reveal inspirational stories of thousands of women imprisoned in Greek concentration camps. Director Stavroula Toska journeys from New York to Greece to examine a largely unknown part of women’s history and, in the process, discovers an earth-shattering family secret. Narrated by Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis.
 
Awards include Best Documentary, Santa Fe Film Festival
 
Following the documentary presentation, we are pleased to present an interview with Beneath the Olive Tree director Stavroula Toska, who provides historical context and background on her film.
 WATCH TRAILERBUY TICKETSBLOOD OF ZEUS, Episode 1: A CALL TO ARMS
Created and written by Charley and Vlas Parlapanides
In English
 2020 / 28 min


A commoner living in ancient Greece, Heron discovers his true heritage as a son of Zeus, and his purpose: to save the world from a demonic army. In this pilot episode of the hit anime Netflix original series, Blood of Zeus, demons attack the polis near the home of the outcast Heron, who finds allies in the wise elder Elias and the fierce Amazonian warrior Alexia.
 
Blood of Zeus, shown free of charge, is made available courtesy of Netflix. (See website for details.)
 
Following the pilot presentation, we are pleased to present an interview with the series creators, Charley and Vlas Parlapanides, who discuss the show’s origins and their plans for Season 2; how two brothers from a big Greek family in New Jersey, one an investment analyst and the other a law school graduate, broke into the movie business; and how being Greek has influenced their filmmaking over the years.
 WATCH TRAILERCLIFFS OF FREEDOM
Directed by Van Ling
In English
2019 / 137 min
 
Cast: Tania Raymonde (Anna Christina), Jan Uddin (Tariq), Raza Jaffrey (Sunal), Patti LuPone (YiaYia), Christopher Plummer (Thanasi), Billy Zane (Christo), Costas Mandylor (Constantine), Simon Kassianides (Gregory)
 
This is the story of an ill-fated romance between a young Greek village girl and a conflicted Turkish officer during the dawn of the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire in 1821. The drama blends ageless themes of hope, love and sacrifice with a timely narrative about one woman’s struggle to overcome oppression and shape her own destiny. Cast includes Patti LuPone and the late, great Christopher Plummer.

Cliffs of Freedom is being presented at no cost to our viewers, courtesy of the National Hellenic Society. (See website for details.)
 
Following the feature film presentation, we are pleased to present an interview with director Van Ling, and actors Tania Raymonde (Anna Christina), Jan Uddin (Tariq), and Costas Mandylor (Constantine).
 WATCH TRAILERGOD LOVES CAVIAR
Ο Θεός αγαπάει το χαβιάρι
 Directed by Yannis Smaragdis
In English and Greek, with English subtitles 
2012 / 101 min
Cast:  Sebastian Koch (Varvakis), Evgenly Stychkin (Ivan), Juan Diego Botto (Lefentarios), Catherine Deneuve (Catherine the Great), John Cleese (McCormick), Lakis Lazopoulos (Fisherman of God), Marisha Triantafylidou (Maria), Christopher Papakaliatis (Counselor)
 
The epic story of Greek patriot Ioannis Varvakis (1745-1825) is brought to vivid life by an international cast in this visually striking film. Varvakis rose from humble beginnings to become a confidante of Catherine the Great (Catherine Deneuve), who granted him trading rights to Russian caviar. Enterprising and tirelessly inventive, Varvakis headed one of the largest mercantile empires in Europe and became an early benefactor of the new Greek nation.
 
Prior to the feature presentation, director Yannis Smaragdis introduces the film with a few words about why he made a movie about Ioannis Varvakis.WATCH TRAILERBUY TICKETSTHE ROAD TO SPARTA
Directed by Roddy Gibson and Barney Spender
In English
2016 / 60 minutes
 

Award-winning documentary about four runners, including ultramarathon runner Dean Karnazes, competing in the Spartathlon, the grueling 153-mile foot race between the Greek cities of Athens and Sparta. The course, similar to the route run by Pheidippides in 490 BC during the Persian Wars, is long and brutal under the blazing Greek sun, but grit and determination keep the runners going in this inspirational testament to the human spirit.

“Enlivening and deeply touching. Combining Greek history, music, and poetry, the film extends beyond pure athleticism to culminate in a viewing experience that is both immersive and highly gratifying.” —Documentary Drive
 
Following the documentary presentation, we are pleased to present an audio interview with director Barney Spender and ultramarathon runner Dean Karnazes, featured in the film.
 WATCH TRAILERBUY TICKETSSEARCHING FOR ANDREAS: Political Leadership in Times of Crisis
Directed by Harris Mylonas and Theo Prodromidis
 In Greek with English subtitles
2018 / 95 minutes

This documentary explores the life of one of Europe’s most controversial political leaders of the 20th century. The legacy of Greek Prime Minister Andreas G. Papandreou is still felt 24 years after his death. Was he a socialist reformer or a populist manipulator? The film is not just about Papandreou’s life and legacy but rather a cautionary tale about the danger of overreliance on charismatic leaders and the challenges that democracies face in replacing them. 
 
Following the documentary presentation, we are pleased to present a discussion by distinguished Greek journalist Katerina Sokou and filmmaker Harris Mylonas about Papandreou’s legacy in the aftermath of the Greek debt crisis.
 WATCH TRAILERBUY TICKETS300
Directed by Zack Snyder
In English
 2006 / 117 min / Rated R

Cast: Gerard Butler (King Leonidas), Lena Headey (Queen Gorgo), Dominic West (Theron), David Wehham (Dilios), Vincent Regan (Captain), Michael Fassbender (Stelios)
 
 Available for streaming March 26-28 only
 
In 480 BC, Persian King Xerxes sends his army of 100,000 to conquer Greece. At the Battle of Thermopylae, Leonidas, king of the Greek city state of Sparta, leads his 300 warriors against the massive Persian army. Though certain death awaits the 300 Spartans, their sacrifice inspires all of Greece to unite against their common enemy. Award-winning Hollywood spectacle with intense battle scenes and a cast of thousands.
 
Following the film presentation, we are pleased to present an interview with writer-director Zack Snyder.
 WATCH TRAILERBUY TICKETS
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to see free Greek films
and interviews with Greek filmmakers
on our YouTube channel.
TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS!PostShareTweetForwardFOLLOW US ONYouTubeFacebookInstagramWebsiteEmailDONATEThe Stavros Niarchos Foundation is the lead supporter of the Hellenic Film Society USA. Additional support is provided by the Onassis Foundation USA, the Kallinikeion Foundation, and Queens Council on the Arts.

The Hellenic Film SocietyThe Hellenic Film Society USA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization rooted in the belief that Greek cinema can and should be part of the American cultural landscape. We promote feature films, documentaries, and film shorts made by Greek filmmakers and those of Greek descent, as well as films that promote the cultures of Greece and Cyprus. 
 The Stavros Niarchos Foundation is the lead supporter of the Hellenic Film Society USA. Additional support is provided by Onassis Foundation USA and the Kallinikeion Foundation.
For further information or to learn how to partner with us, please visit hellenicfilmusa.org or call  646-844-1488. We invite you to sign up for our mailing list and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
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Published by Robert K Sephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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