Part 3 in the series by the Greek Heritage Society will focus on the successes of 2nd and 3rd generation Greeks in Southern California.
The Greek Heritage Society of Southern California is about to begin production on the third and final documentary in its trilogy about Greek-Americans in Southern California. This one will spotlight the 2nd and 3rd generations.
Founded in 1985, the Greek Heritage Society of Southern California strives to preserve the rich culture, heritage, and traditions of Greek immigrants in Southern California. To document their unique experience, this non-for-profit organization has interviewed more than 400 Greek immigrants and Greek-Americans in the area. Shelly Papadaopoulos, a long-time board member, past president, and co-executive producer of the documentaries, explained the importance.
“We know a lot about Greeks that settled in New York and Chicago, but not much is known about Greeks in Southern California.”
To tell the story of the Greek-American experience through the unique experiences of the Greeks of Southern California, she said they continually conduct oral histories with members of the community. They’ve also amassed a large archive of artifacts that bring the stories to life, including historical photos, private footage, folk art treasures, and more. The Greek Heritage Society has contributed some of these photos to the Ellis Island Museum.
Part of their mission is to educate about the accomplishments of Greeks in the area. They host workshops and training programs several times a year. The Greek Heritage Society has partnered with the Basil P. Caloyeras Modern Greek Studies Center at Loyola Marymount University in L.A., for educational and literacy purposes. The film trilogy is part of their educational efforts.
Another part of the group’s mission was to create a series of documentaries, called “The Greeks of Southern California Through the Century and Beyond”. These films chronicle the Greek-American experience, Southern California style.
The first, THE PIONEERS 1900-1942, was released in 2002. It premiered at 20th Century Fox Studios in L.A., and screened around the U.S. The film garnered tremendous praise, and won several awards, including ”Best Documentary” at the 2003 International Panorama of Independent Filmmakers festival in Thessaloniki, and the “Award of Excellence,” from the Film Advisory Board. Part 1 highlighted the history, heritage, and cultural background of the Greek community in the L.A. area, plus the achievements of the first Greeks of this region. It was hosted and narrated by Olympia Dukakis and John Kapelos.
Part 2, THE PROMISE OF TOMORROW 1940-1960, premiered in 2009 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in Beverly Hills. This film made its way through the U.S. and was an official entry to several film fests. It also won much praise. THE PROMISE is the recipient of the “Indie Special Recognition Award” from the 2010 Boston International Film Festival; and “Best Documentary” at 2010 Beverly Hills Film, TV & New Media Festival.
The third and final film in the series, THE NEW GREEK AMERICANS: 1960-2017, will focus on the 2nd and 3rd generations, and highlight their successes. It will also examine such issues dating and intermarriage in the 21st century; and highlight the military experiences of Greek-Americans, from Vietnam to Afghanistan. Shelly discussed another important component of this project.
“Many questions arise about our heritage and its future. Will it survive? Will it become embedded into the framework of our American identity and lives? Will our grandchildren and subsequent generations continue to speak Greek and celebrate our culture? We will explore the answers to these questions and more.”
A crowdfunding campaign was launched this month to support the project.
“We are all a part of history, and this film will help to document that history. We must do everything we can to keep our legacy alive because if we don’t do this, who will?”
The campaign runs through July 8.