Greece-US visa waver agreement expected soon

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Greek and U.S. officials say they expect to conclude a visa waiver agreement soon, removing a thorn in bilateral relations. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg says a deal on criminal data sharing signed Sunday will pave the way for an agreement by year’s end allowing Greeks to visit the U.S. without visas. Bakoyannis and Steinberg spoke of a “new air” in Greece-US relations after a bilateral meeting during which two accords were signed on the Greek island of Corfu over the weekend.
Greece has long sought to be included in the visa waiver program, but negotiations with the U.S. had failed to make significant progress. Steinberg said the criminal data sharing agreement will respect Greek concerns regarding travelers’ privacy.

On the Red Carpet of the LA Greek Film Festival

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On the Red Carpet of the LA Greek Film Festival at the Closing Night Gala in Hollywood.

Sharon Stone and the Greeks

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Sharon Stone at the LAGFF

What does Sharon Stone have to do with the Greeks? No she is not Greek and she does not have a Greek grandfather. However she participated in the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival, and “the Greeks” who attended the festival had the chance to talk to her. Stone was in the award winning documentary directed by James Chressanthis “No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo and Vilmos”, and she sat on the Q&A of its screening on Saturday June 27th.

An Interview with Director Penelope Spheeris

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Spheeris’ career began with a love for music. In 1974, she formed her own production company, ROCK ‘N REEL. It was the first production company in LA to specialize in music videos. After producing, directing, and editing videos for major bands throughout the seventies and eighties, she directed the 1979 documentary on the Los Angeles punk scene, THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION, which was received with unanimous critical praise.

Still fascinated with the subject, she wrote and directed her first narrative film, SUBURBIA produced by industry legend Roger Corman. The drama revolves around the lives of “The Rejected”, a group of punk kids who have abandoned their homes escaping abuse, and have squatted a Los Angeles bungalow.

In 1992, Spheeris directed her seventh feature and first studio film, WAYNE’S WORLD (Paramount Pictures), followed by THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES (Fox, 1993), THE LITTLE RASCALS (Universal, 1994), BLACK SHEEP (Paramount, 1996), and SENSELESS (Dimension, 1998). THE KID & I (2005), starring Tom Arnold and Eric Gores about a brilliant young actor with cerebral palsy is the last film she directed.

Greece – Canada accord

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Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis and her Canadian counterpart Lawrence Cannon (foto) on Monday signed in Athens a bilateral agreement between Greece and Canada on the Avoidance of Double Taxation of Income or Capital and the Prevention of Tax Evasion.
According to a foreign ministry announcement, the agreement settles the taxation of income gained through activities in Canada by natural or legal persons resident in Greece (and vice versa).
It also includes favourable provisions regarding Greek companies intending to do business in Canada. It determines the extent of the contracting parties’ tax competencies and ensures a stable tax regime and a level-playing field for investors. The signing of this agreement opens up new horizons for the economic relations of the two countries.
Tax barriers (double taxation) are to a large extent removed, cooperation prospects between the tax authorities of the two countries are strengthened with a view to the prevention of tax evasion, and more favourable conditions are created for the operation of Greek businesses that are active in Canada.
This bilateral agreement is now the most important form of economic cooperation between Canada and Greece and it is expected to work as an incentive towards further improving their economic and trade relations, the ministry announcement said.
Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis and her Canadian counterpart Lawrence Cannon on Monday signed a bilateral agreement between Greece and Canada on the Avoidance of Double Taxation of Income or Capital and the Prevention of Tax Evasion.

Vassilis Kaskarellis new Greek ambassador to US

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Vassilis Kaskarellis has been appointed the new Greek ambassador to the United States. Born in Athens, Kaskarellis graduated from the universities of Athens and Thessaloniki, where he studied Economic and Political Sciences, as well as Law. His diplomatic career has been long, important and distinguished.
He started out as a young attaché in Athens, later serving in Ankara, Venice and Nicosia. In 1987, he was made chief of Greece’s military mission in West Berlin, as General Consul after the fall of the Berlin Wall. In 2004, he was appointed Greece’s standing representative in the European Union. Kaskarellis is married with two sons.

LA Greek Film Festival ends with “Guinness” and the Orpheus Awards

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Photo Credit: Alex Vacca

The past four days Hollywood had a Greek flavor, and moviegoers had the chance to taste Greek Cinema first hand at the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival. The line up included features, shorts, documentaries and also a panel discussion about filming in Greece. The festival ended on Sunday, June 28th, with a red carpet full of celebrities and the screening of the comedy “Guinness”.

The highlight of the night was the Orpheus awards which honored the best films and filmmakers of the festival.

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Patricia Kara of Deal or No Deal hosted the Orpheus Awards Ceremony.

Nia Vardalos Presented A SPECIAL JURY PRIZE FOR A SHORT FILM to We Call
Her Daisy dir Stefan Georgiou

Nia Vardalos also presented BEST SHORT FILM to The Grandfather dir Nikias
Chryssos

Stratton Leopold Presented BEST DOCUMENTARY FILM – T for Trouble and the
Self Admiration Society dir Dimitris Athiridis

He also presented A SPECIAL JURY MENTION FOR A DOCUMENTARY FILM
Chameleon Beach dir Adam Schmedes

Keith Morris of the Circle Jerks presented AN HONORARY AWARD to Penelope Spheeris.

Mimi Denisi presented an honorary award to Ambassador of Greece Dimitris Caramitsos-Tziras which was accepted by his wife Margarita Mavromichalis.

Jim Gianopulos presented BEST DRAMATIC FEATURE to Guinness director Alexis Kardaras

Alexis Georgoulis presented SPECIAL JURY PRIZE for a FEATURE Valse
Sentimentale Director: Constantina Voulgaris

Marilu Henner presented the AUDIENCE AWARD TO NO SUBTITLES NECESSARY: LASZLO & VILMOS dir James Chressanthis

I Hate Valentine’s Day Premiered at LA Greek Film Festival

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“I Hate Valentine’s Day” premiered at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood as part of the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival on Saturday June 27th. The movie is Nia Vardalos’ directorial debut. Vardalos, who wrote the screenplay, also stars in the movie with her “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” co-star John Corbett. The film will be available on demand on July 1 and in theaters for a limited release on July 3.

“We are honored that the festival has chosen us as their world premiere event for this year. The Los Angeles Greek Film Festival is becoming one of the preeminent showcases for filmmakers of Greek descent worldwide, and we are thrilled to be included as part of their line-up,” added Vardalos.

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Vardalos plays Genevieve, a romantic, carefree florist who loves romance but keeps her relationships short with a “five date” rule. Her theory is tested when her whirlwind romance with Greg (Corbett), the charming new restaurateur in town, reaches the end of their fifth date, and she realizes she wants more.

The film’s supporting cast includes Stephen Guarino, Amir Arison, Zoe Kazan, Gary Wilmes, Mike Starr, Jason Mantzoukas, Judith Friedlander, Rachel Dratch, Jay O. Sanders, Lynda Gravatt and Suzanne Shepherd. William Sherak, Jason Shuman and Madeleine Sherak produce, with Dominic Ianno and Michael Gallant serving as executive producers.

Sex and Éclairs in Hollywood

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Sometimes this town really makes me wonder. Just the other day I was leafing through a pile of new casting notices when I came across one in particular that made me scratch my head. Without giving away the project’s name let’s just say that it was about a convent full of very “naughty” women, if you get my drift.

Now I like to think of myself as an open-minded, liberal person. There’s not a whole lot of anything that bothers me – except for what seems to be most everything these days. A nunnery full of naughty nuns, I thought? After meditating on it for the better part of an hour I decided I needed a second opinion. So I brought in the big guns to see if I was over-reacting.

“A convent full of naughty nuns?” my best friend sat opposite me, fork in midair; a look of total indignation on her face.
She had rolled out the word “naughty” with a conviction she normally sets aside only for those things which are of serious threat or consequence to her intelligence. Some people have WMD’s; my best friend has a look when she’s appalled that could reduce Jerry Springer to the size of an insect. A kind of revolted glare if you will, that she stockpiles and then strikes out with when situations like this arise.

“That’s right”, I said.
“You have got to be kidding me.”
We both sat there, sipping on our glasses of Alsace, wondering where it all went wrong when the idea of leaving the business to become a real estate agent flew through my mind. That’s when I knew it was serious. I shook my head one more time before downing my wine. Naughty nuns running around a convent naked flirting with one another – I have finally heard it all

For the serious actress, navigating the Hollywood maze can be a daunting task. Particularly when after a while you realize there seem to be fewer and fewer roles that don’t require you to squeegee an SUV in a cutoff shirt or have you running around naked underneath your habit. It’s just one big, bosomy cliché.

Now I know what people in the business would say. Sex sells. These types of scripts are flying all over Hollywood these days. In fact, this is tame compared to some of the stuff that goes on in this town. It’s also the ugly side of the business which I so love and always manages to throw me into one of my existential crisis that makes me ask myself what it is exactly that I’m doing here?

I don’t understand exactly what’s happened to Hollywood over the last decade or so? In the eighties we had women like Jessica Lange, Glenn Close and Angelica Houston to captivate us on screen. They were sexy, they were bold, and most importantly of all they did a lot more than provide a little eye candy for movie goers. It was a monumental moment when I heard Glenn Close would be heading the cast of her new television series, Damages. Let’s hope it sets a precedent for the new generation of Hollywood actresses coming on the scene.

An actress is like a firefighter – she goes where the work is. But remaining firm in her convictions can be difficult with so few choices. It’s not just a matter of working it’s about doing good work. Work that, at the end of her career she can look back on and rejoice and celebrate because she knows she was a part of something worthwhile. It’s not about being a ‘good’ girl either, if the nun happened to be a well developed three-dimensional character I may have been inclined to wear the garters accompanied by the little pistol too.

“That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.” My best friend looked at me with gruff seriousness.
“Naughty nuns…?” We repeated together.
Even in Hollywood it is possible apparently, to still be shocked.
“Well, look at it this way”, she turned to me. “If you’re not going to be walking around the screen naked we can order dessert.”
We both looked over our shoulders at the two girls munching on a chocolate éclair.
“I knew there was a reason you’re my best friend.”

LA Greek Film Festival Opens with a Star Studded Red Carpet

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Photo Credit: Alex Vacca

The Los Angeles Greek Film Festival kicked off with a star studded red carpet gala on June 25th, at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. Actors, directors and producers of Greek descent gathered at the festival which promotes Greek cinema and culture in the capital of the entertainment industry. Among the attendees were Alexi Georgoulis who recently starred in “My Life in Ruins”, Greek music sensation Kalomoira,  veteran actor John Aniston and other celebrities. The festival opened with the movie “Small Crime”. Directed by Christos Georgiou and starring Aris Servetalis and Viki Papadopoulou, the charming comedy is about a frustrated young policeman who has just been assigned duty on a beautiful but ragged Greek island in the Aegean. There he discovers murder, mystery and love.

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The event will continue with daily movie screenings and panel discussions. The festival will close on Sunday with the Orpheus Award presentation.