GAFS launch: A vision for a new Greek Australian cinema

Nikita Chronis unveils GAFS, aiming to redefine Greek-Australian narratives through cinema
The launch of GAFS was well attended by many young people from the community as well as other creatives from the cinema world. Photo: Supplied The launch of GAFS was well attended by many young people from the community as well as other creatives from the cinema world. Photo: Supplied

The Greek Australian Film Society (GAFS), Nikita Chronis’ brainchild, was launched at the stately Abbotsford Convent on Friday, October 27.

“The launch of our Greek Australian Film Society has been in the making for a year, and I am a very proud Greek, and I love film,” Chronis said.

Nikita Chronis launching GAFS. Photo: Supplied
Nikita Chronis launching GAFS. Photo: Supplied

“I’m an actor primarily, but I wanted to create a network of people and a hub where people could not only preserve the beauty of Greek Australian cinema but also actively create our material heading into 2024”, Chronis told Neos Kosmos.

Chronis wants a “new film narrative from the Greek Australian Diaspora.”

“We want to promote the Greek language and culture, but we also want to find what is unique about Greek Australia, and films are the way of the future, whereby people can identify with themselves and their culture through film as the medium.”

Chronis said that GAFS have “an ethos as a foundation linked to certain Hellenic values that are present within the stories that we tell”.

Chronis, the actor, who has also lived in Vietnam, recently played Xanthus in Taika Waititi’s, soon to be released Time Bandits, on Apple TV and Hudson Greene in the Amazon Prime resurrection of Neighbours- the Aussie soap that launched the careers of Margot Robbie, Guy Pearce and Chris Hemsworth among others.

“I want in 30- or 40-years’ time for Australians to look at a body of work from GAFS and be able to determine who we are as Greek Australians”, Chronis told Neos Kosmos.

In his speech later in the night, Chronis talked about a crisis emerging whereby “traditions and customs slowly are being subsumed not by ‘Australification’ but by “the rapid progression technology and the insistence upon a global village” and “homogenisation”.

He added that GAFS seeks to develop new and unique narratives by and for Greek Australians through film and that inherent Hellenic values such as “philotimo” will guide the process.

Attendees share in the enthusiasm for GAFS’ impact on the Australian filmmaking landscape

The GAFS launch was attended by filmmakers, critical stakeholders of the Greek community, as well as friends and family.

One of the many attendees was Sydney-based filmmaker Eirini Alligiannis, whose documentary on graffiti in New York City Louis (KR.ONE) Gasparro won 58 awards, including honourable mentions in the Hollywood Independent Filmmakers Awards and Queen Palm Independent Film Festival.

“The film has been shown in New York, Budapest, Los Angeles and many other film festivals,” Alligiannis said.

Eirini Alligiannis, from Sydney, whose documentary on graffiti in New York City Louis (KR.ONE) Gasparro won 58 awards. Photo: Supplied
Eirini Alligiannis, from Sydney, whose documentary on graffiti in New York City Louis (KR.ONE) Gasparro won 58 awards. Photo: Supplied

Actor Arthur Angel from the 2020 My First Summer and the 2011 classic Red Dog said he was “curious what this is about”.

“I like the concept of a Greek Australian film society because Melbourne, in fact, Australia as a whole, is synonymous with Greeks.”

“This is an opportunity to see where we go because it is time to branch off, something like in America in the 1970s – we’re behind the eight-ball here behind something like this happening now is good, but it should happen maybe 20 years ago,” said Angel.

Acors Arthur Angel and Rebecca Howell film luminaries at the GAFS Launch: Photo Supplied
Acors Arthur Angel and Rebecca Howell film luminaries at the GAFS Launch: Photo Supplied

Rebecca Howell, a film, theatre, and television actor who appeared in the 2022 production of the Australian classic Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, was also at the affair.

She said she had worked with Nikita on a project and was “just so impressed by this young man committed to Greek culture”.

Howell is currently writing a film “with many Greek characters”.

“I need to collaborate with Greek filmmakers, so I’m an actor and a writer, and the perfect way to make a film.”

In her proposed film, Howell is navigating the theme of class, as she said, “the way migrants experience it”.

“When you migrate, regardless of which class you are from, you come to another country, and you are assigned a class.”

Howell went on to talk about how many middle-class people migrated and dropped in status and class as migrants to Australia.

Outside the coterie of creatives at the launch, there were also many friends and family of Nikita.

Nikita’s very proud mum Christine, (L) with friend. Photo: Supplied
Nikita’s very proud mum Christine, (L) with friend. Photo: Supplied

“I am supporting my friend Nikita, and I have brought my family along,” said Lucas.

David Buchanan, who appeared in Rabbit Proof Fence and Scent of Killer, has also appeared in Nikita Chronis’ short films.

“This is his brainchild; we have worked together. I played his father once, and we’ve remained close since,” said Buchanan.

David Buchanan, from Rabbit Proof Fence and Scent of Killer at GAFS Launch. Photo:Supplied
David Buchanan, from Rabbit Proof Fence and Scent of Killer at GAFS Launch. Photo:Supplied

When Chronis spoke at the launch, he thanked the former Victorian minister for multicultural affairs, John Pandazopoulos, who was also there.

“I’ve been supportive of Nikita and advised him about how to form GAFS as a formal group and where opportunities might lie; I lent my name to support the organisation and went to all the early meetings to make this happen,” Pandazopoulos said.

Former Victorian minister for multicultural affairs John Pandazopoulos a GAFS Patron. Photo: Supplied
Former Victorian minister for multicultural affairs John Pandazopoulos a GAFS Patron. Photo: Supplied

He said, “We all know of young Greek people that have gone to acting and film schools”.

Chris from MELVOURNI coffee supplying ethically sourced coffee. Photo: Supplied

Neos Kosmos asked if there’s less activity now than when the second generation of Greek Australians, in the 1980s and 1990s, such as actors Mary Coustas, Nick Giannopoulos, or filmmaker Alkinos Tsilimidos, were creating work.

“I think there is still lots of work, but they’re coming to it in a different it’s possibly more mainstreamed with the Greek tweak, and we’ve just got to provide every angle for the way people feel about being Greek in the Australian context, and I think the creative world through film is an excellent way,” Pandazopoulos said.

GAFS is looking for support as a not-for-profit organisation from individuals and government, and they, as Chronis said, “look to cooperation with many other communities and also many other social and cultural hubs”.

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