Showing posts with label Stathis Giallelis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stathis Giallelis. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

TCM Classic Film Festival 2017 Red Carpet

Conducting red carpet interviews has always been a dream of mine and I can't believe I've been able to do it. Twice! I had the privilege of being on the red carpet again for this year's TCM Classic Film Festival. The opening night premiere was for the 50th anniversary of In the Heat of the Night (1967). 

I was at the end of the line and not in the best spot for capturing quality audio, I did manage to get five quality interviews and lots of photos. Unfortunately Sidney Poitier didn't walk the red carpet so I didn't get to see him. However I saw plenty of other stars and special guests and I snapped a lot of photos.

Interviews with:
Film Critic Leonard Maltin
Actor Stathis Giallelis, America America (1963)
Author Beverly Gray
Director Producer Todd Fisher
Talk Show Host Dick Cavett

And here are some photos of who I saw on the red carpet.

TCM's Sean Cameron and TCMFF red carpet spectators

Wyatt McCrea

Angela Allen

Stathis Giallelis

Producer Walter Mirisch

Keir Dullea
Beau Bridges

Lee Grant

John Landis

Dick Cavett

Todd Fisher
Fred Willard

I had a great moment with Fred Willard. As I saw him walking down the red carpet I yelled out "Hey handsome!" He stopped to pose for me and I got a couple quick shots. I said "looking good" and thanked him.

Bob Balaban

Ruta Lee
Then came the beautiful Ruta Lee who looked absolutely stunning. I called out to her and told her she was beautiful and she quickly posed so I could get a shot. Doesn't she look fantastic?

Special shout out to Danny Reid who helped me with equipment, photography and live tweeted my red carpet interviews and to Marya Gates of TCM who helped guide Dick Cavett down the line to my spot. And thank you to my friends in the bleachers especially Kate Gabrielle, Millie and Casey who cheered for me from the stands and to Nikki and Brian who took photos of me. I appreciate your support!

Monday, April 17, 2017

America America (1963) with Stathis Giallelis #TCMFF

Alicia Malone and Stathis Giallelis TCM Classic Film Festival
Alicia Malone and Stathis Gialellis at the TCM Classic Film Festival

"I am a Greek by blood, a Turk by birth, and an American because my uncle made a journey." 
Elia Kazan

What's a more American story than one of immigration? America America (1963), Elia Kazan's three hour epic was the most personal of all of his films. Inspired by his family's emigration from Turkey to America, Kazan adapted his autobiographical novel to screen. America America tells the story of Stavros, a young Greek man living in Turkey when Greeks and Armenians were suffering under Turkish oppression. He sets out for America with the intention of bringing his family there one by one. But his journey is filled with many obstacles that test his will and determination. Shot on location in Istanbul, Turkey and parts of Greece, it stars a young unknown Greek actor Stathis Giallelis in a part of a lifetime.

When the opportunity arose to watch America America at the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival I could not turn it down. Given our current political climate this film is now more relevant than ever. The UCLA TV & Film Archive provided a beautiful print and Filmstruck host Alicia Malone was on hand to interview the movie's star Stathis Giallelis before the screening.

Malone started the conversation by noting that America America is about an epic journey and that Giallelis had his own epic journey to get the title role of Stavros.  The main character is in every scene in the film and carries the movie on his shoulders. It was no small feat and Giallelis needed to convince Kazan he was right for the part.

Elia Kazan and Stathis Giallelis America America (1963)
Elia Kazan and Stathis Giallelis on the set of America America (1963)

Giallelis remembered the audition process as being "a long journey." He auditioned for Kazan who responded with a letter telling him that he had to learn English. Giallelis met with producer Charles H. McGuire and while things seemed to be moving forward Kazan wasn't ready to commit. Determined to impress him, Giallelis enlisted his friend Vassillis Vassilikos, author of the novel Z, to write letters in English to Kazan on his behalf. They sent letters back and forth and Kazan finally replied saying that there was a visa waiting for him at the American Embassy. An invitation? Not quite. Giallelis remembers, "but he didn't send me any money and I had no money so I borrowed some money from my uncle, from some friends and I got the cheapest ticket to come to America. And I didn't tell him I was coming to America."

When Giallelis arrived he surprised Kazan in New York City. Kazan gave him fifty dollars to find a room in the city to stay in. Still not fluent in English, Giallelis told the audience that he tried gesturing to a taxi driver what he wanted and tried to pay him with the fifty dollars but had no luck. Finally Giallelis got settled. He was assigned an English tutor and Kazan and Giallelis meet with each other every day. Just when things were starting to progress Kazan introduces Giallelis to a French actor who was also a candidate for the part of Stavros. This didn't stop Giallelis who kept trying for the role. He remembers, "[Kazan] was very elusive about who was going to get the part. He gave me a red book and it was the script. He says to me read this... One day he came up to me and said the French actor went back to France."

Over the years Kazan changed his story of how he cast Giallelis, who joked that the older Kazan got the more the story changed.

Alicia Malone and Stathis Giallelis TCM Classic Film Festival
Alicia Malone in conversation with Stathis Giallelis

Malone went on to say, "you must have had incredible determination to get that role and that of course mirrors your character. Such grit and hope and optimism. How would you say this film sums up the immigrant spirit?"

Giallelis replied, "you have to give up everything. Mine looked like an easy journey. All of us are from somewhere. Our grandfathers, our fathers they came here."

For Kazan, this message was everything and it's so beautifully and harrowingly expressed in his film. Malone asked Giallelis if he got a sense of how special the film was to Kazan while they were on set. Giallelis replied, "yes many times. Sometimes after a scene he'd be hiding on the set. Sometimes you would see him crying. It was very emotional for him."

Kazan would communicate with his actors what he wanted but wasn't very demonstrative. Giallelis remembered, "he would say "I want you to give me this emotion for the scene" [but] he would never show you how to get it... He always knew about his actors. He knew about our lives and what moves us. And sometimes ... you would let him use his knowledge because it would help you as a performer. That was his secret."

The set of America America was a small one and Giallelis remembers there being a lot of camaraderie and love among the group.  Kazan remained friends with Giallelis up until Kazan died in 2003. Giallelis also became good friends with America America cinematographer Haskell Wexler. On Wexler Giallelis said, "he was my best friend.. Every two years we'd come and stay with him for a while. Haskell was a very special man. Not only a great talent and fantastic cinematographer but he was also a great human being. His political views were very hopeful for everybody. And sometimes people thought he was too far to the left. He was a man who always fought for justice. For justice for the under dog. He was always fighting." Giallelis shared with us a funny story of how Wexler was shooting some test footage to see how Giallelis' face would photograph and asked him to shave his mustache. He directed Giallelis to the wrong bathroom. When he opened the door a gang of Italian women started screaming and chased him out of there.

Stathis Giallelis America America (1963)
Stathis Giallelis in America America (1963)

After America America, Stathis Giallelis went on to make a smattering of films. He was in The Eavesdropper (1966) by legendary Argentine director Leopoldo Torre Nilsson and producer Paul Heller. He then made a couple of political films and the war movie Cast a Giant Shadow (1966) with Kirk Douglas, Yul Brynner and John Wayne. He worked with Jules Dassin on The Rehearsal (1974) and remembered it being "another great experience because [Dassin] was very much like Kazan." Giallelis didn't say why he gave up acting but I imagine it was difficult to eclipse the work he did on America America.

Giallelis left us with one last tidbit before the screening began. Malone asked him what the audience should be looking out for when they watch the film. He pointed to his favorite scene when his character Stavros is on a boat on his way to America. He contemplates the tough journey that brought him there and says when he arrives at his destination that he will be washed clean again.

Out of all of the films I saw at the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival, this was the one I was the most excited about. I wish it had been a packed house but the film was in a tricky time slot and a three hour drama will have steep competition from shorter, lighter fare. However I hope everyone who did attend was as moved by the film as I was. I had seen the film before and reviewed it some years ago but hadn't revisited since then. When I saw it announced on the TCMFF schedule and that Stathis Giallelis would be in attendance I made it a priority to go. The film blew me away for new and different reasons than it had the first time. If you didn't get a chance to attend this screening or if you've never seen the film before, make it a point to watch America America. You won't regret it.

Raquel Stecher and Stathis Giallelis, TCM Classic Film Festival

I had the honor of meeting and briefly interviewing Stathis Giallelis. Stay tuned for my TCMFF Red Carpet coverage coming soon.

Monday, April 10, 2017

TCM Classic Film Festival 2017: Day 3 Recap

The Graduate signage at the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival

Another day in La La Land kicks off with the third day of the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival. Still weary from the midnight screening of Zardoz (1977), I managed to get up early for the 9 AM screening of The China Syndrome (1979).

This time I went with Carlos who is a huge Michael Douglas fan. After the movie the man himself came out for an interview with Ben Mankiewicz. It was neat to see him in person and to talk about the making of the film. I've seen numerous Michael Douglas films before but something about hearing his voice in real life was quite epic. You could hear his father's voice in his.

Michael Douglas and Ben Mankiewicz

I was entranced by The China Syndrome and hope to do a full review with transcript from the interview here on the blog soon.

Afterwards I made my way to In-N-Out burger for a quick meal and then headed over to Club TCM. I attended Bruce Goldstein's presentation The Art of Subtitling. He poked fun at those who point out how the subtitles to foreign films miss words or are not direct translations. He did a great job explaining why. He used some examples from Panqiue (1946), a French film I had seen the day before. If the subtitles included a word for word translation the text would take up half the screen. See the example in the photo below.

Goldstein went into detail about how foreign films are translated and how the subtitles are positioned on the different scenes. It's really a technical art. You have to accommodate enough time for the viewers to read the text, the subtitle can't take up too much of the screen, it should be accurate for the time, place, culture, characters and plot and the words can't get in the way of the flow of the visuals. Goldstein demonstrated with examples of different styles of subtitling both good and bad. He always discussed the international culture of dubbing. Here in the US we much prefer subtitles but in foreign markets dubbing is preferred. It was an amazing presentation and I'm so glad I attended. Hat tip to Kate Gabrielle who's enthusiasm for this event made me want to go.

High on my list of films to see at the TCM Classic Film Festival was Elia Kazan's America America (1963). I always end up picking one film that most of my friends skip or is generally overlooked. The theater was half full for this screening and I really wish it was a packed house. A three hour film about a Greek immigrant isn't a big sell but this is such a fantastic movie it was one I didn't want to miss.

Especially after I had interviewed the star Stathis Giallelis on the red carpet just a couple days before...

Me interviewing Stathis Giallelis on the red carpet TCMFF

Alicia Malone and Stathis Giallelis

TCM's FilmStruck host Alicia Malone was on hand to interview Stathis Giallelis before the America America screening. While I've written about this film before, I can't miss an opportunity to write about this wonderful event. Stay tuned.

After a three hour drama, it was time for a light comedy...

Best in Show (2000)! I thought this was going to be a controversial pick because the film is only 17 years old. (Ben Mankiewicz poked fun at the newness of the film by falsely claiming that it was the 30th anniversary). I was pleasantly surprised that this screening sold out the bigger of the three theatres at the TCL Chinese Multiplex.

Stars John Michael Higgins, Fred Willard, Bob Balaban and Jim Piddock were all on hand for a pre-screening interview. I've always had a love for this film and it was great fun to hear the cast talk about making the movie. It was a bit awkward that Balaband couldn't speak because he was on voice rest. However everyone made the most of it and it turned out to be a running joke throughout the presentation.

Cast members of Best in Show with Ben Mankiewicz

It got chilly on Hollywood Boulevard. I made my way to the Grauman's Chinese theatre to get my ticket for the screening of The Graduate (1967). 

I had a great chat with Warner Archive's Matt Patterson while I was on my way to get some food. We had such a good conversation that I ran out of time to grab a meal. It was worth it though.

I sat with Danny of and his lovely wife Aubrey for the screening of The Graduate. This was the first time I had seen the film all the way through. I had watched various clips and I knew the ending well. Before the film, Ben Mankiewicz interviewed screenwriter and actor Buck Henry. More on this event to come.

Ben Mankiewicz and Buck Henry

The last recap should be available in a few days. Stay tuned!

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