Montreal Greek Film Festival 2011 Wrap-Up

It’s a wrap for the third annual Montreal Greek Film Festival.  The festival began and ended with the film Brides at Cinema du Parc, a story of  many loves and emigration.  With an added bonus of a closing reception that took place at the Rialto Theater and a special screening of My Sweet Canary. A documentary film which had its world premiere at the Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival this summer.

For the first time on film, we see the passionate story, music and melodic voice of Roza (Rositsa) Eskenazy, Greece’s best loved rebetico (“Greek Blues”) singer. Her most important contribution to the local music scene was her rebetiko recordings in particular the ones from the Smyrna school of rebetico. Roza was a Jewish-Greek singer born in Constantinople (modern day Instanbul) who changed her name from Sarah when she eloped with Yiannis Zardinidis. After her husband died, Roza became a single mom for their son Paraschos and moved to Athens in the late 1920’s.

It is there that Roza was discovered by well known composer Pangiotis Tountas of Columbia records and the rest is history. When  signed with Columbia records in the early 1930’s she was the first Greek female artist to have royalties from a record company. One of the first songs that jump started her impressive career was called “Koftin Eleni tin Elia”.  Her passion for singing did not even stop under the repressive regime in World War II when she opened up her own nightclub Krystal with her son. It is during this time under the country’s Nazi occupation that Roza also  joined the local resistance and was able to save Jews in Athens and Thessaloniki including her very own family from deportation to Auchswitz.

For those that missed the classic film “ Rembetiko”  screening playing during the week’s festival,  this is a must see and listen! This Greek-Isreali production directed by Roy Sher is currently playing in cinemateques all over Israel this month and if any of our viewers will be visiting Washington in December, it will be screened at the Jewish Film Festival.

Further tribute to the rebetika repertory of Roza Eskenazy was sung by Montreal born Nitza Melas.  This global musical artist has won the title of “World Music Artist of the Year” at the  Los Angeles Music Awards.  Nitza has worked with Cirque de Soleil’s first ever musical event Delirium and has collaborated with  magician performer Criss Angel at the Vegas Luxor Hotel show Believe.

On that note, we believe you all enjoyed the 3rd Annual Greek Film Festival  and hope to see you all next year. Kalos eirthate! (Welcome)

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