The second annual Vancouver Greek Film Festival (VGFF) runs from 1-4 June 2023. It presents an eclectic offering of contemporary and classic Greek cinema. This year the Festival kicks off a calendar of events organized by The Hellenic Canadian Congress of British Columbia during Greek Heritage Month which culminates in “Greek Day on Broadway” one of Vancouver’s most famous street festivals on June 25th.
Greek film has made great strides in the last two decades emerging from slapstick comedy to films dealing with contemporary social issues not afraid to take aim at Greek politics, religion and governmental bureaucracy.
Christos Dikeakos a visual artist and co-founder of the VGFF states, “The programme presents a myriad of stories and experiences about the human condition, offering insight into the minds of Greek filmmakers that is at once intimate and universal.”
“Holy Emy” is like no other Greek film. In fact it has transcended Hellenism and is like no other film. And it is like a minefield to review with any depth lest it be ruined for you dear viewer. Although set in Greece, mostly Piraeus, it has a universality that propels it beyond Greece.
Emy (Abigael Loma) and Teresa (Hasmine Killip) are Filipinas living in Piraeus. Their mother Pilar has left back to the Philippines with hints of evil spirits and witchcraft leaving young Teresa and her younger sister Emy behind. Teresa is heavily ensconced in the small Pilipino Roman Catholic Church community practicing a quasi-gospel born again sing along Third World Catholicism. Emy is seen as an outsider and regarded with suspicion with Linda, a quasi mom, urging Emy be baptized so the “Holy Spirit” can enter her. Why does Emy cry tears of blood?
Why is Madame Christina so hated by many of the Filipino Roman Catholics? Is she running a Filipino psychic healing bordello? Why was Pilar “working” there?
Although ostensibly a devout Catholic Teresa is knocked up willingly by Greek lout Argyris who meets a fishy ending. Why was Pilar chased out of Greece?
I really am handcuffed here about further descriptions of this 2021 film. A mix of Hitchcock and Cronenberg. Think of films “Nightmare Alley”, “A Face in the Crowd”, “Carrie” and the “Exorcist” and you’ll get all of that in this film.
How could I categorize this film for you? A mystery? A thriller? A chiller?
Speaking of chilling the ending is the ultimate shiver! A saint on an Athenian bus?
The film won two 2022 Hellenic Film Awards. Killip won Best Supporting Actress and Araceli Lemos Best Director.
In Tagalog, Greek and English with English subtitles.
Shows 2June at 20:30.
RKS 2023 Film Rating 96/100.