Interview with Harry Killas – VGFF

Summer of 2023 is kicking off at the Cinematheque in a fabulous way with the 2nd annual Vancouver Greek Film Festival. It runs from Thursday, June 1st through Sunday, June 4th. There’s something for every moviegoer from a Hollywood classic, a tribute to one of the world’s greatest actors, comedy, drama, documentary, and a celebration of female filmmakers. We spoke with the curator Harry Killas.


HNMAG: Are you one of the founders of the Vancouver Greek Film Festival?

Harry: It was an original idea from visual artist Christos Dikeakos and Nick Panos who are on the board of the Hellenic Canadian Congress. They were looking for an idea to enhance Greek Heritage Month in June culminating in Greek Day on West Broadway at the end of June. The street closes down to traffic with dancing, a festival atmosphere, and food. They approached me, so I guess I’m a co-founder although it wasn’t my original idea.  I’m a filmmaker and an associate professor at Emily Carr. I’ve done a lot of curating and programming with the Cinematheque. I’ve done seven seasons of a series called The Image Before US, a History of Film in British Columbia.


HNMAG: Which film can you think of would encourage people to visit Greece?

Harry: Mama Mia! It was shot partially in Greece. We threatened to program it. A lot of people who see the film, go to the places where it was shot.


HNMAG: What are some of the takeaways you got from last year’s festival?

Harry: Opening night was sold out, it was Zorba the Greek. The music gets people going, so there was a lot of rhythmic clapping with the last dance scene in the film. People had a good evening. The closing night was my film, Greek to Me, a recent documentary I made about my family. It was about a 70 % sell out. It was well-attended.


HNMAG: Was this your first feature?

Harry: No, it was my third feature documentary. My first was Is There a Picture. It was an expansion of a shorter film about the Vancouver Schools; photos and conceptual artists. We did a 28 Up type of series called SuperKids and SuperKids 2.


HNMAG: How long have you worked at Emily Carr?

Harry: I’ve been there since 2004.


HNMAG: How does the new campus compare to the old one on Granville Island?

Harry: The new building is great. I don’t miss the old buildings at all. The skytrain is going to be extended so there will be a station adjacent to Emily Carr. This is much more centrally located than Granville Island, so it makes it easier to get to for most students. Moving into the present, the facility allowed us to consolidate from being in disconnected buildings all over Granville Island. In the 70s, Granville Island was an exciting idea in an industrial zone. Emily Carr was a key anchor tenant that brought people onto the Island. The school has grown, is much bigger and has a research focus. It’s much more than drawing and painting.


HNMAG: Is there a different focus for the festival in 2023?

Harry: We’re maintaining the four streams which are “From the Archive,” a look back on classics of Greek cinema; “Celebrating Greek Auteurs and Artists,” stories by and about iconic Greek artists; “Contemporary Greek Cinema,” a selection of recent titles making waves at home and abroad; and “Greeks in Diaspora,” films made by Greek directors from around the world.

In the “Greeks in Diaspora” category, we’re showing America, America directed by Elia Kazan from 1963 in full 35MM. In the focus on Greek auteurs, there’s a documentary about Olympia Dukakis. With the category of contemporary Greek Cinema, many are directed by women and one of the features is written and starring a Greek actor, a woman.


HNMAG: Anything else you would like to share about the Vancouver Greek Film Festival?

Harry: Many of the movies are Vancouver premieres and some are Canadian premieres. America America is a special occasion displayed in 35 MM. Magnetic Fields is Greece’s choice for the Oscars. One of the films deals with horror within the Philippine community in Athens. That will be of particular interest with the Vancouver Filipino community. A lot of the films are award winners.

There certainly is a lot to celebrate and admire at the Vancouver Greek Film Festival at the Cinematheque from June 1st through June 4th. You don’t have to be Greek to fall in love with Greek cinema. If you didn’t get a chance to attend the festival this year, now you should have a good idea of what to look forward to in 2024.



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