The 59th San Francisco International Film Festival takes place 21 April to 5 May 2016 at six Bay Area venues.


France: The Apostate, As I Open My Eyes, Blood Of My Blood, Cowboys, Dead Slow Ahead, The Dream Of Bottom, The Innocents, Journey To The Shore, Love & Friendship, Microbe And Gasoline, Neither Heaven Nor Earth, Nephtali, No Home Movie, Phantom Boy, Suite Armoricaine, Welcome To My Life, The White Knights, Winter Song, and A Young Patriot.

Israel: Mountain, Mr. Gaga, and Presenting Princess Shaw.

Lebanon: Abu Ammar Is Coming and Very Big Shot.

Spain: The Apostate, Dead Slow Ahead, and Night Without Distance.

Turkey: Frenzy and Sept-Oct 2015 Cizne.

Also: Chevalier (Greece), Blood Of My Blood (Italy), False Start (Morocco), and As I Open My Eyes (Tunisia).

The San Francisco venues are Alamo Drafthouse New Mission, Castro Theatre, Gray Area, Roxie Theater, and Victoria Theatre. Plus the new BAMPFA in Berkeley.

For more information and tickets contact San Francisco Film Society.

copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved.


Greek Giant

Film director and screenwriter Theo Angelopoulos (1935-2012) was a major force in world cinema.


Several of his 14 dramatic features were grouped as trilogies: Trilogy of History, Trilogy of Silence, Trilogy of Borders, and Trilogy of Modern Greece.

My introduction to his work was a 1975 film, The Traveling Players, about a troupe of itinerant actors performing in villages throughout the country during one of many Greek dictatorships. While I understood the general thrust of the story, I undoubtedly missed the fine details because there were no English subtitles during its screening. I left during intermission.

I enjoyed his 1984 film, Voyage To Cythera, about an old man who returns home after a long absence only to realize he can no longer live in the place he left.

Landscape In The Mist (1988) is another one of my favorites. It follows the adventures of two young children who set out to find their father living somewhere in Germany.

Exile is a familiar theme in modern Greece because many of its people left to escape political persecution or poverty. Austerity and high unemployment forces young people to work abroad, while ongoing war brings ever more refugees through the country on their way to richer northern nations.

Angelopoulos died four years ago after being hit by a motorcycle driven by an off-duty policeman. He was making a film about the Greek economy at the time. The Other Sea was never finished.

copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved.


Money Chase

All About E directed by Louise Wadley (Australia) 2014 is more than a lesbian romantic thriller. It covers many other issues as its main character, a glamorous DJ, sets out on a road trip after discovering a bag full of money. Along the way it’s revealed that her parents are Lebanese, that she gave up a promising career as a flutist, and also alienated the woman who loved her most.


Even though all the action takes place down under, the actor who plays her father is actually Greek as is the composer whose music plays throughout the film. It played in the recently concluded Frameline 39 and after it finishes the festival circuit it’ll be distributed by Wolfe Releasing.

copyright © 2015 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved.


Greek Life

Three of the films shown at the recently concluded San Francisco Greek Film Festival touched on the current situation in Greece.


Include Women Out directed by Vangelis Seitanidis (Greece) 2014 is essentially a comic, buddy film that doesn’t delve too deeply into social issues. However, at a pivotal moment in the story, the underlying conflict that separates the two main characters is starkly revealed.

The insults they hurl at each other divide Greek society. One man accuses his friend of getting ahead in business with bribes and other corrupt practices. The other points out that his wealthy friend has his money stashed in foreign banks. Both the upper and middle class are responsible for the disastrous conditions of the nation and must contribute to reforms.

The Cure directed by Ifigenia Dimitriou (Greece) 2015 is an amusing, direct assault on government bureaucracy, a hated institution both center-right and center-left administrations used to reward their loyal supporters. It’s filmed in black and white to emphasize the timelessness of the problem. Though arrogance and inflexibility are widespread in businesses as well.

Consideration directed by Nancy Spetsioti (Greece) 2014 is about a middle-aged man whose failing business prompts him to pressure his widowed mother to sell the deteriorating family home to a developer in order to pay his debts.

A common scheme in urban centers such as Athens is for homeowners to give up their homes to builders in exchange for a condominium in the large residential building constructed on the lot. Of course, urban density is preferable to sprawl.  The arrangement may seem like a win win deal but is it?

There’s a lot people within the country need to do to make it a better place for themselves and those around them. Austerity is a doomed policy and focusing narrowly on the Greek debt doesn’t benefit the European Union as a whole. The only viable solution involves looking beyond national boundaries and insuring that all EU citizens are provided with incomes to meet their basic needs.

copyright © 2015 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved


Frameline 39

The San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival screens at five Bay Area venues 18 – 28 June 2015. The Castro Theatre, Roxie Theater, and Victoria Theatre in San Francisco, Rialto Cinemas’ Elmwood in Berkeley, and Landmark Theatres Piedmont in Oakland.


I highly recommend Sworn Virgin directed by Laura Bispuri (Italy/Switzerland/Germany/Albania/Kosovo) 2015 and Xenia directed by Panos H. Koutras (Greece/France/Belgium) 2014, both award winning films.

Three other Mediterranean features are Hidden Away directed by Mikel Rueda (Spain) 2014, The New Girlfriend directed by François Ozon (France) 2014, and Summer Nights directed by Mario Fanfani (France) 2014.

Contact Frameline for more information and tickets

copyright © 2015 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved


Different Strokes

Forever Young directed by Spiros Charalambous (Greece) 2015 was voted the winning short at the 12th Annual San Francisco Greek Film Festival and headed to the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.


Most of the film takes place in a brothel. While his older brother is engaged in a sexual marathon with one of the young prostitutes, the younger brother storms out of the house after an unpleasant encounter with the young woman he paired with.

Waiting for his brother to finish and come outside, he and the madam initiate a conversation that leads to a surprising climax of the film

The prize for best feature-length film at the San Francisco Greek Film Festival went to Xenia directed by Panos Koutras (Greece/France/Belgium) 2014. The co-writer of the screenplay was my friend Panayiotis Evangelidis.

Xenia will screen again in the Bay Area during the upcoming Frameline film festival and is likely to have a theatrical run at some future time.

copyright © 2015 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved


Greek Hospitality

Philoxenia, generous hospitality toward strangers, is a traditional Greek value too often lacking today. Immigrants are seldom welcomed and Albanians especially are the usual scapegoats for crimes and any bad behavior.


Xenia directed by Panos Koutras (Greece/France/Belgium) 2014 boldly overturns common perceptions. The two main characters of the film are teenage brothers, one gay and the other straight, born in Crete to an Albanian mother and a Greek father who abandoned them early on.

Their mother recently died so the young men go in search of their father hoping he will acknowledge them so they can establish legal status.

This journey takes them through some of the darker aspects of the country but they are survivors unwilling to abandon hope for a better future

The film played to a packed house during the 12th San Francisco Greek Film Festival that concludes Sunday. For more information and tickets for the remaining screening contact San Francisco Greek Film Festival.

copyright © 2015 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved


Dark Descent

An eccentric, young misfit abandons his London home to find refuge in his father’s derelict house in Greece in The Winter directed by Konstantinos Koutsoliotas (UK/Greece) 2014.


Niko leaves behind the shambles of his life in the UK, managing to evade periodic calls on his mobile from his mother and creditors. The main rational for his existence is a novel he’s been working on since university he hopes to finish while hidden in the quiet, mountain village of his birth.

However, he’s haunted by the past that includes a loving but brooding father who died in isolation. Niko often wakes from troubling dreams and is increasingly drawn into fantasy, as he totters on the fine line between sanity and madness.

The film screened during the 12th Annual San Francisco Greek Film Festival continuing through the coming weekend. For more information and tickets contact San Francisco Greek Film Festival.

copyright © 2015 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved


Greek Film Fest 2015

The San Francisco Greek Film Festival launches its twelfth season with a cocktail reception Friday evening 8 May 2015 at Kokkari Estiatorio, 200 Jackson Street, San Francisco.


The following day a program of short films begins 11:00 AM Saturday 9 May 2015 at the Delancey Street Screening Room, 600 The Embarcadero, San Francisco.

Lovestruck directed by Thodoris Atheridis (Greece) 2014 is the opening night feature-length film 7:00 PM Monday 11 May 2015 also at the Delancey Street Screening Room.

For more information and tickets contact San Francisco Greek Film Festival.

copyright © 2015 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved


Culinary Roots

Ikaria: Lessons On Food, Life, And Longevity by Diane Kochilas published 2014 by Rodale spotlights the Aegean island heritage of the author. While there are a substantial number of health tips scattered throughout because of the locale’s Blue Zone status, the heart of this book and its most valuable asset lies in its recipes.


One surprise for me was the inclusion of tarot root among native ingredients and I look forward to trying the instructions for skordalia (page 9), a dish I’ve only had using potato or bread as the base for this garlic dip.

Other tantalizing dishes are: whipped feta kaponisti (page 7); old style Ikarian tourlou (page 135) casserole combining potatoes and zucchini; noodles with yogurt and herbs (page 190); smoked herring rice (page 201); and baby goat with avgolemono (page 243).

When searching for a recipe in the index, look first for a key ingredient and then zero in on the name of the dish!

I frequently cook savory pies from an earlier Kochilas book, The Glorious Foods Of Greece but my attempt to make my own phyllo dough was unsuccessful. However I’m going to give it another try with one of the recipes in the section on savory pies and breads.

Ikaria by Diane Kochilas, with photos by her husband Vassilis Stenos, is available in both a hardbound and e-book edition from Rodale Books.

copyright © 2014 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved