By Karina Valdes
The 2018 London International Filmmakers Festival recognized a feature documentary co-produced and edited by Konstantia Kontaxis, associate professor for the Department of Cinema and Interactive Media, with nominations in several categories. Last Song to Xenitia is nominated for Best Film, Best Editing of a Feature Documentary, and Best Cinematography in a Feature Documentary.
“We made this film thinking that it would appeal primarily to Greek or Greek-American audiences. It is wonderful to see that it resonates with an international audience,” said Kontaxis.
The documentary centers around Vasiliki, a centenarian poet who returns to Greece for her last journey to her homeland with her book of folk songs. Vasiliki left her homeland in search of a better life in America. The Greeks call this "xenitia", meaning "to live as a stranger in a foreign land." Sustained over the years by an ancient oral tradition, she dictates from memory at the age of 100 more than 340 songs. Although Vasiliki returns to find Greece in crisis, she endeavors to inspire a new generation with these folk songs.
“It is a film that speaks of the immigrant experience and the effort of keeping one’s cultural identity alive while living in a foreign country,” said Kontaxis.
The film was produced and directed by Athena Scotes, and has screened at the 2017 Los Angeles Greek Film Festival and the 2017 Portland Film Festival. The film was supported with a Creative Activity and Research Grant from the University of Miami School of Communication.
The 2018 London International Filmmakers Festival is a week-long festival taking place February 10-17, 2018 in London. The festival hosts events for filmmakers to network, hear from industry leaders, and watch film screenings. The awards showcase takes place on February 17.