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Valerie Z. Written by Valerie Z.
Jun. 17, 2011 | 3:42 PM

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The Greek Film Festival

“The Game Must Go On” Review by Valerie Z.

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the 5th annual Los Angeles Greek Film Festival, this is the story of neighborhood friends Alexandra, Vlad, and Chrysa, who just want to play soccer but have no playing field in their small, over-crowded Greek city. As they start to kick the soccer ball around on their small, narrow street, the adult neighbors yell at them and even threaten them with knives in an effort to get them to stop playing and making noise.  Alexandra gathers the other children for a visit to the mayor’s office to ask him to build them a small playing field of their own.  After several trips to the mayor’s office, they finally meet with him.  The film chronicles their quest for one year; unfortunately, the children are still waiting for their play area as the reality of government red-tape is the only lesson they learn.

This could be any American city really, as this Greek city is filled with immigrant, and single-parent, low-income families whose struggles are universal.  The big difference is that these kids want to go outside and exercise; they don’t want to sit in front of the computer and play games where there is no face-to-face interaction.  Trying to get government to make changes for the better is tough all over as the film demonstrates.

The film was considered for last year’s LAGFF; unfortunately, there was not enough room for it in the schedule.  This year, it was a sure choice as one of the selections of documentary screenings.

Angeli Andrikopoulou and Argyris Tsepelikas are award-winning fiction and documentary filmmakers who work in Greece. The film is in Greek with English sub-titles and has a running time of 80 minutes.

“Burning Heads”

The world premiere and closing night film at the 5th annual Los Angeles Greek Film Festival was based on a Greek stage play, “To Gala”.  It is a masterfully crafted feature film debut from Director George Siougas and features first-rate performances.  The film is beautifully shot, credit Yiannis Drakoularakos, and has the kind of cinematography found in the best American films.

The film tells the story of a young man burdened with schizophrenia and his mother who won’t have him committed.  When his older brother, Adonis, who spent years trying to run away to free himself of his younger brother’s illness, wants to introduce his bride-to-be, his brother’s worsening condition emerges with tragic consequences.  When their mother dies, unexpectedly, Adonis is faced with doing the right thing and having his brother committed.

We witness the pain of the the younger brother and the toll that it takes on his mother and Adonis as his younger brother only remembers the same stories repeatedly, exhausting the others.  Another great but cataclysmic story of mental illness and what it must be like for everyone, including the one who suffers from the illness itself.

The film is in Greek with English sub-titles and has a running time of 99 minutes.

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