San Francisco Greek Festival Celebrates 17 years with Melina Mercouri

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This year’s Festival poster is designed by John Mavroudis, a Greek-American award-winning artist who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mavroudis' work has been seen on many magazine covers, including TIME, The New Yorker and The Nation.



Some of humanity’s earliest theatrical and dramatic presentations come from the Greeks. Often when the word “drama” is said, it implies something serious. But actually the term drama is derived from a Greek word for action. According to the Greeks, drama refers to two kinds of drama. One that is a comedy and the other kind is that of a tragedy. Despite all the chaos that the Coronavirus and the California wildfires has caused, organizers are determined to carry on. This coming October 3rd will begin the 17th annual San Francisco Greek film festival.

The San Francisco Greek Film Festival (SFGFF) was founded in 2004. It is recognized as the first and longest-running Greek film festival in the United States.

“During this difficult time in our world, our team felt strongly that it was important to continue to celebrate the Greek and Cypriot films produced this year,” said SFGFF Director Maria Nicolacakis. “We may not be able to come together in person at the film festival, she said. But we will bring the films to your homes. The week-long online streaming of the films, which is a first for us, will be provided free of charge as an expression of gratitude to our community that has supported us for the past 17 years.”

This past week organizers announced that the opening film, ‘Topkapi’ from 1964 will be presented in a ‘drive-in’ setting. “We hope that the streaming on line of films, along with the drive-in experience, another first, will be enjoyed by all,” added Nicolacakis.

Dedicated to recognizing, supporting, and promoting the best in filmmaking by Greek and Cypriot artists. The SF Greek Film Festival accepts submissions from around the world. Never heard of Cypriot before? It means from the island nation of Cyprus.

Legendary actress Melina Mecouri in promotional photo for the 1964 film ‘Topkapi’ which will be shown as the first film for the 17th annual San Francisco Greek Film Festival beginning Oct. 2 until Oct. 10, 2020. This year also marks the 100th birthday of the late actress who achieved international stardom in this and other movies like “Never On A Sunday.”

With screenings of new, innovative, and highly acclaimed films the SFGFF seeks to inspire, engage, and entertain its diverse audience. Throughout its history, the Festival has also featured screenings of classic films such as the hit comedy ‘Topkapi.’ The organizers and staff believe that 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. The SFGFF has showcased some of the most highly regarded Greek/Cypriot films produced over the past 17 years. Since its inception, the film festival has showcased nearly 320 movies, hosted nearly 50 filmmakers as guests, and inspired, engaged and entertained over 9,000 attendees from San Francisco and the Bay Area.

As a film classic, ‘Topkapi’ features an all-star international cast. More than 50 years later it is still held in high regard by film critics. Melina Mercouri’s performance further catapulted her into international stardom. From her work on stage, song-recording and in more than 20 films Mercouri was able to immerse herself in the political life of her country. She served as Minster of Culture for Greece for two terms from 1981 to 1989. Mercouri was the first woman to hold that position and was very dedicated. While she appreciated the international acclaim she was quoted as saying, “I was born a Greek and I will die a Greek…”

Mercouri died from cancer in 1994. If she were alive today she would be 100 years old. In honor of her courageous life and extraordinary career, the SFGFF is proud to commemorate and celebrate her birthday by having one of her best films kick off the festival.

The SFGFF is funded through sponsorships by individuals and businesses, grants and ticket sales. Entirely run by volunteers, the Festival staff works throughout the year to plan the event. It is supported by an Advisory Board of experienced and respected community and industry leaders. Proceeds of the film Festival benefit the Modern Greek Studies Foundation, a San Francisco nonprofit which is committed to enriching knowledge and appreciation of Greece’s linguistic, literary, cultural and historic contribution to the Western World. Nicolacakis and staff also mentioned that sponsorship opportunities are available for the 2020 SFGFF. The festival begins on Oct. 3rd and continues until Oct. 10th. To learn more about the San Francisco Greek Film Festival visit the SFGFF web site.

The SFGFF drive-in screening of ‘Topkapi’ will take place on Sunday, October 4, 7:00 pm, at Par 3 at Poplar Creek in San Mateo, allowing for a completely safe in-person moviegoing experience. All ages are encouraged. Admission is $30 per car entry fee. Food and beverage will be available to pre-order. Tickets can be purchased through the EventBright website.