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Greek-American Director Tackles Oppression and Race in Award-Winning Movie

Butterfly film
A poster for the film “Butterfly”. Photo courtesy of Lazarus Lazarides.

The short film “Butterfly,” written, directed, and produced by Greek-American director Lazarus Lazarides, will be shown at the Maryland Film Festival on Friday, May 21.

“Butterfly” has been shown at a number of important film festivals and was named “Best Film” at the Mexico International Silent Film Festival in December 2020.

New film “Butterfly”

The synopsis of the film reads: “A repressed person, living in a city, confronts his internal struggle as it bleeds through into his public persona, creating a collision amongst external social norms, suppressed identity, and the surrealistic worlds of a distressed psyche.”

The film deals with difficult themes including oppression, racism and stereotypes. The main character, played by Wesli Spencer, tries to overcome these issues and express himself freely regardless of pressure due to his gender.

Lazarides’ movie has already been met with much success, and has been shown across the world to hundreds of people. It premiered at the Maine International Film Festival in July 2020, where it was one of only ten films selected to be shown.

Since then, it has been shown at the Mexico International Silent Film Festival, where it won “Best Film”, as well as at the Zaragoza International Film Festival in Zaragoza, Spain, and the Thessaloniki International Short Film Festival, Greece.

At the Maryland Film Festival, a very prestigious showcase for American films, “Butterfly” was selected to open the “Queer Stories” retrospective on Friday. It was selected out of more than 2,000 submissions for the festival.

Some of the other Greeks that worked on the film include the associate producer, Karolina Stellaki, and the editor, Nikos Apostolopoulos.

Greek-American director Lazarides

Lazarides, whose family is originally from Athens, Greece was born in New York. At age three the family moved back to Greece, and he spent much of his adolescence sharing his time between his two countries.

Lazarides finished his education in Greece and moved to London to study Filmmaking and the Philosophy of Film at Royal Holloway University. In 2016, he gained admission to the Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema’s MFA program in Brooklyn, NY, where he was one of only 13 directors selected.

He is fascinated by themes of identity and channels that into his work, often exploring themes such as racism, violence and social inequality through film. He is also very versatile, having worked in both fiction and documentary filmmaking.

His newest and perhaps most ambitious project is currently in production. Lazarides is working on his first feature film, titled “This is Not An Alex.”

Beyond his professional work, Lazarides is also very proud of his Greek heritage. His grandfather was originally from Trapezunta, Pontos but was forced emigrate due to the Pontic genocide when he was only three years old. Lazarides remembers his grandfather as being a very honest and self-made man.

The trailer for the Greek-American made film is shown below:

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