Director George Leontakianakos shines in his short film ‘The Ride’ at the 19th Annual San Francisco Greek Film Festival

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Courtesy of Ace House Productions & SF Greek Film Festival



April 8 kicked off The 19th annual San Francisco Greek Festival. The Festival team is delighted to have a full nine days of in-person screenings at Delancey Screening Room in San Francisco, celebrating the return of cultural experiences that can be held in real life shared spaces. Rounding out the offerings for the SFGFF 2022 will be a selection of virtual screenings, building on the popularity of these online options over the last two years.

Courtesy of the SF Greek Film Festival 2022.

The SF Greek Film Festival met the challenges during the pandemic with creativity, and determination to fulfill their mission in showcasing cinema from the Greek and Cypriot – (Island of Cyprus) worlds.

The Fall 2020 SFGFF was their first time presenting virtual screenings, augmented by a drive-in movie presentation, with the same mix presented in Spring 2021. With great excitement, the organizers anticipate forward to the meeting their community and followers again in person.

For over 18 years the Festival has delivered the best film work by Greek and Cypriot filmmakers from around the world. With screenings of new, innovative, highly acclaimed films and different events around the annual film Festival week, the SFGFF seeks to inspire, engage, and entertain its diverse audience.

Through the powerful medium of film, the Festival sustains, elevates, and promotes Greek culture, history, and language in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.

Not limited to only feature films and familiar classics, the SF Greek Film Festival will also spotlight short films. Director George Leontakianakos’ “THE RIDE” will be shown this Sunday. Starring Efi Papatheodorou, one of Greece’s most famous actresses, the film is a didactic tale.

Courtesy of George Leontakianakos YouTube channel.

Frixos, an impatient taxi driver, (portrayed by Makis Papadimitriou) is in a hurry to finish his shift, so he can enjoy watching sports. But his last customer, a 90-year-old woman, played by Papatheodorou slows down the route and inspires him to rearrange his priorities.

Comparisons to “DRIVING MISS DAISY” could be made, but this short film has a different dynamic. What’s most striking besides having two formidable and experienced actors, highlight their craft, is the director Leontakianakos. His own life could be a didactic story of following one’s heart.

A teacher of natural sciences in Athens, the 38year-old Leontakianakos studied Geology at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. He has also completed postgraduate and doctoral studies, earning a PhD at the Department of Chemical Engineering of National Technical University of Athens. Yet despite his academic abilities and accolades his great love is cinema.

Greek actor, Makis Papadimitriou. Photo courtesy of uniFrance.org

When Leontakianakos was a child, he used to help his father who owned a video club. His father’s video club was the first video club in Chalandri – a suburb of Athens. 

According to IMDb Leontakianakos made his first film entitled “THEFT” which starred the students from the school he teaches at. “THEFT” went viral on YouTube in Greece with 750,000 views.

The film received the third special distinction for its social message at the 9th ARTFOOLS Film Festival in Larissa, Greece. After this film, he enrolled at New York College and began Film Studies. In addition to short films, Leontakianakos has worked at making documentaries, such as one called, “MONUMENTS AND SIGNS” about the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.

Based upon Alexandra Dyranis-Maounis’ script, the two seasoned actors and Leontakianakos share a passionate understanding of Greece, its history, its struggles and, most importantly, its spirit.

Photo courtesy of Courtesy of MOG – Memories of the Occupation of Greece. https://www.occupation-memories.org/en/index.html

With a career that spans more than 40 years, Papatheodorou herself represents the history of Greece of the 20th Century up to now. She survived WWII and the subsequent aftermath of trying to rebuild. Surviving not only a war-torn and occupied Greece but her family’s own difficulties as resistersPapatheodorou encountered and endured many hardships when WWII ended in 1945.

This coming together of an older generation and a younger generation is paving the way to the future. It’s a way to a horizon that still has obstacles, in a part of the world that has always been sought after and fought over.

The path to the future is not only in the brief story-line of the film itself, but also at the core of the director and the actors; their collaboration demonstrates the determination of a people to do more than survive but to thrive and live abundantly.

“THE RIDE” shows Sunday, April 10 at 6:30 PM, doors open at 6:00 PM at Delancey Screening Room at 600 The Embarcadero, San Francisco. For details and to purchase tickets, visit the San Francisco Greek Film Festival website.