Interview with Festival Co-Director Maria Nicolacakis (San Francisco Greek Film Festival)

13th Annual San Francisco Greek Film Festival,

October 15-22, 2016

Interview with the Festival Director Maria Nicolacakis:

Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers? 

Maria Nicolacakis: Our film festival is one way Greek filmmakers can get their work out to the world.  Greece is a small country with a suffering economy right now, and our film festival is a great opportunity to reach new audiences and networks.

Matthew: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)? 

Maria: 2016 marks our 13th year.  Every year, we strive to present a diverse selection of current feature films, shorts, and documentaries.  This means different genres and themes, as well as different budgets.  Some of the films we show have well known actors, directors and producers, and a bigger budget, while others (most of them) are on a shoestring budget with up and coming names.  It’s amazing to compare the average cost of a Hollywood film to that of an average Greek film; it’s night and day.  The past several years we have brought filmmakers to our festival, which is always a very fun and engaging experience for the audience, and we expect to do that again this year.  Stay tuned!

Matthew: What are the qualifications for the selected films? 

Maria: We showcase contemporary work by filmmakers who are Greek or of Greek descent.  Beyond that, we look at the pool of entries every year, and as mentioned above, we aim to choose a diverse selection of films.  We personally screen all of the hundreds of entries we receive every year.


Matthew:  What motivates you and your team to do this festival? 

Maria: I am a child of Greek immigrants and my team members are Greeks from Greece who moved to the U.S. many years ago.  We all love Greece and we love Greek Film, and we want to provide this wonderful art form to the broader community.  It’s a way to preserve our culture.  Additionally, all proceeds from our film festival benefit the Modern Greek Studies program at San Francisco State University.

Matthew: How has the festival changed since its inception? 

Maria: I would have to say technology.  Not needing to physically receive and ship film reels around the world has been a huge savings in time and cost.  FilmFreeway has been great!  Also, we’ve made changes to our website and now use an online ticketing service.  Our numbers across the board have also steadily increased:  the number of films that are submitted annually, the attendees, and donors.

Matthew:  Where do you see the festival by 2020? 

Maria: That’s only four years away!  We would love to continue to grow our festival and expand it to more locations in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Central Valley.

Matthew:  What film have you seen the most times in your life? 

Maria: Dead Poets Society.  I was obsessed with Thoreau quotes when I was younger.  In terms of Greek films, growing up in the 80s, Greek comedian Stathis Psaltis was my absolute favorite.  My brother and I watched his comedies over and over!

Matthew:  In one sentence, what makes a great film? 

Maria: A great film reflects the human experience, both good and bad, and takes your breath away while leaving you hopeful at the same time.

Matthew:  How is the film scene in your city? 

Maria: San Francisco is a world-class city with a wonderful film scene.  There are numerous film festivals here and in the surrounding Bay Area, as well as a fantastic International Film Festival.


Thank you very much for the interview!

13th Annual San Francisco Greek Film Festival,

October 15-22, 2016




Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Fesival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.


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