The 2021 Los Angeles Greek Film Festival (LAGFF) took place this May, mostly virtually due to the pandemic. After a slate of truly remarkable and moving films, the ceremony’s Orpheus Awards winners were announced on Memorial Day Weekend.
2021 LAGFF Orpheus Award Top Winners
The top prize for best feature film went to “Pari”, directed by Siamak Etemadi, an Iranian filmmaker living in Greece. The story follows an Iranian mother who goes to Athens to visit her student son Babak, only to realize he is missing.
Pari, the titular mother of the movie, searches the underground world of Athens to discover what might have happened. Though “Pari” focuses on one family’s harrowing story, it also comments on the difficulties Pari encounters navigating an unfamiliar, and at times chaotic, city.
Melika Foroutan, who plays the Iranian mother of the film, won the Special Jury Award for Best Performance.
The 2021 LAGFF Best Documentary Award went to “Being Present”, known as “Parontes” in Greek, directed by Yorgos Avgeropoulos. The documentary is extremely relevant to modern times, as it seeks to understand the impact of the COVID public health crisis on an already stressed Greek economy and public sector.
Other 2021 LAGFF Orpheus Award winners include Nikolas Kisker from “Daniel ’16” and Janis Rafa as Best Director for “Kala Azar”.
The festival’s Special Jury Award went to “Passage to Europe” by Dimitra Kouzi. The poignant film takes a long hard look at immigration to Europe, and specifically Greece. Best Short Film went to “Iskioma” by Kostas Gerampinis.
Animation: A Brand New Category
For the first time in its history, the 2021 LAGFF featured an “Animation” category. Two films were honored as first-time animations winners. The Best Animation award went to “Parrot Lady” by Michalis Kalopaidis. The Special Jury Award for Animation went to “Lazy Dragon” by Fokion Xenos and Joan Zhonga.
Festival Director Aris Katopodis was incredibly impressed with the wide selection of high-quality films from Greek filmmakers around the world in 2021. He emphasized that the jury’s job was harder but also more enjoyable due to these circumstances. As Katopodis put it, “a lot more films, a lot more fun, a lot more to experience.”
LAGFF After the Pandemic
The 2020 LAGFF was delayed and also eventually held virtually in October of 2020. Next year, the festival’s organizers expect that the LAGFF will be held in person again. The festival is usually hosted at Hollywood’s famous Egyptian Theatre.
However, Katopodis emphasized that viewership for LAGFF’s online festival this year hit record numbers. This has made the organizers rethink completely eliminating a virtual component.
If the 2022 LAGFF is held at least partly online, Greek film fans from around the US will be able to view the movies from wherever they are located.
Many of the 2021 LAGFF films will likely soon be available on online and other streaming platforms. Keep an eye out for them.