The Hellenic Film Society USA continues its “Greek Films on Demand” enabling viewers globally to access feature films, documentaries and film shorts made by Greek filmmakers, as well as films that promote the cultures of Greece and Cyprus.
Their two March offerings include “My Name is Eftihia” a bio pic from 2019 capturing the inspirational and tragic life of Eftihia Papagiannopoulou (1893-1972). She fled the Turkish genocidal attack and burning of Smyrna in 1922 lucky enough to board a ship to safety as many countries refused to assist these victims. Instead they watched hundreds drown trying to swim to what they thought was safety.
Upon arriving in Greece she became involved in the theatre and then moved into composing songs of the rebetika and laika genre. She was a prolific composer selling her compositions to Greek singers such as Vassilis Tsitanis. She was a contemporary to Rosa Sarah Eskenazi a well-known singer of rebetika.
Her story is one of grit and determination divorcing her husband 20 years senior to her age she then married a policeman Giorgos Papagiannopoulos (Pigmalion Dadakarides). The tragic side of her life is that she was a ferocious gambler constantly in debt. She would sell her songs and the rights to them at a low price to finance her gambling addiction.
The acting and costuming looks like big budget. Karyofyllia Karampeti (older Eftihia) and Katia Goulioni (as younger Eftihia) give fierce performances and Thanos Tokakis (Loukas) as her manservant, confidant and assistant offers a brilliant and measured performance as a homosexual when such a sexual status was vilified in Greece. In the 2020 Hellenic Film Academy Awards Dadakarides won best actor although one could argue Tokakis was equally if not more deserving. Goulioni won best supporting actress. The film was awarded Best Film.
I had only wished more attention had been given to the Turkish genocide in Smyrna a brutal act the non-Hellenic world needs to know more about. If I could tell you of the torture of the Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church of Smyrna you would surely agree with me. And if only we could have heard more of her music! Get your Kleenex ready for the ending of the film and the closing song and perhaps then you’ll understand the emotionalism of the lyrics of Eftihia Papagiannopoulou.
You can see the trailer for this 123-minute film directed by Angelos Frantzis here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNNhL6EKkkw
From around the world you can stream this film from March 4-March 13 at www.hellenicfilmusa.org
RKS film rating 91/100.