The Los Angeles Greek Film Festival (LAGFF) is set to expand its mission and scope of action with an ambitious agenda under the umbrella program Global Greek Film Initiative (GGFI).
LAGFF is an annual film festival that showcases new works from Greek filmmakers worldwide. It is now in its seventeenth consecutive successful year.
GGFI is strategically designed to establish an array of new annual programs to promote cultural exchange between Greece, the USA, and the Hellenic diaspora. It will also provide service opportunities for employment and economic growth within Greece and be the North American hub and global one-stop collective for Greek film programs and initiatives.
Lia Bozonelis, a Greek-American writer-producer and LAGFF Board Member who conceived the idea of a year-round multi-faceted program, stated that “Greece is experiencing a hard-won opportunity with the amount of international production pouring in.”
“Combining insights and evaluation from working within the studio system along with our organization’s mission and resources, we can help ensure that Greece remains a center for film production and a global base for fostering new talent,” Bozonelis said.
The GGFI founders, Board Members Lia Bozonelis and Ersi Danou, and Festival Director Aris Katopodis will be supported by a Council of Trustees and group of Dignitaries comprised of the most trusted organization donors and top Hollywood professionals.
Nia Vardalos, Alexis Georgoulis join Global Greek Film Initiative
Among them are former Chairman and studio head Jim Gianopulos, writer-actress Nia Vardalos, TV director-producer Greg Yaitanes, European Parliament Member and actor-writer Alexis Georgoulis, to name a few, as well as up-and-coming Hollywood professionals representing the new generations of Greek-Americans in the entertainment business.
“For long-term success, you need to adapt, change and be relevant every day,” Katopodis said. “Change is good. Casting a wider framework, Global Greek Film Initiative represents the growing influence of the Hellenic diaspora in Greece, especially at a time when Greece is becoming a major film production hub in Southern Europe.”
According to Panos Kouanis, President and CEO of Greece’s National Centre of Audiovisual Media and Communication (EKOME), “in less than five years, Greece has become one of the top destinations for filming not only in Europe but also worldwide.
“Particularly in 2021, more than ten high-budget productions were filmed in Greece—for Amazon, Netflix, Paramount Studios, Apple TV, Millennium Films—as a result of the very competitive investment incentive and tax incentive that is offered,” Kouanis reported.
“The sudden influx of American and international film production in Greece has caused the urgent need for a sustainable industry infrastructure and well-trained crews,” Danou, Board Member and LAGFF Co-Founder, added.
“The Global Greek Film Initiative is here to help by coordinating efforts and offering workshops, training classes, and scholarships,” said Danou. “It will also strengthen our festival and expand to more programmatic avenues.”
Under GGFI, the organization will include several new programs as outlined below:
- The inception of a crew training program for Greek professionals in the entertainment business, administered by American professionals and technicians.
- Strategies to facilitate Hollywood film production in Greece.
- Scholarships for Greek film students to attend and participate in Los Angeles Greek Film Festival as well as enjoy personalized programs of professional development and networking.
- Under GGFI, LAGFF’s already established International Project Discovery Forum, an international screenplay development lab and pitching forum, will offer workshops in Greece administered by American professionals.
- Multiple series of online and in-person screenings / events with various relevant focus areas, including: faith & tradition, diversity, women’s empowerment, and LGBTQAI+.
Alexis Georgoulis, who also serves as a Member of the European Parliament, co-founder of Cultural Creators Friendship Group at the European Parliament and a GGFI Dignitary, stated: “I am really excited about the GGFI’s mission. I strongly support this major breakthrough for the Greek Film Industry. There is no other initiative like this in existence. It’s exactly what Greece needs!”
Nia Vardalos, a GGFI Dignitary and longtime supporter of LAGFF, shared her enthusiasm: “Having just wrapped an incredibly wonderful experience directing My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 filmed entirely in Greece, I can unequivocally say…on your next film…go Greek!”
“As a citizen of Greece, I have dreamed of shooting a series in one of the most beautiful countries in the world,” Greg Yaitanes (House of the Dragon), who serves as a GGFI Dignitary, said. “Rich in texture and bathed in the most stunning light, the islands and mainland Greece offer endless backdrops to enrich our storytelling.”
The GGFI team is set to begin its new programs in early 2023.