Fr. Christopher Metropulos sits down with three of the winners from this year’s Byzanfest film festival to talk about their projects.
Byzanfest screens and streams the very best of Orthodox-inspired cinema, with a goal to foster the growth of the global Orthodox movie industry and introduce diverse audiences to our unique visual story-telling.
Simon Scionka has worked in documentary film for over 20 years, having filmed all around the world in over 40 countries. Simon has produced long form and short form documentary films having received multiple festival honors and awards for both feature length and short films. Simon lives in Colorado with his wife and 4 children, and serves as a subdeacon at Holy Theophany Orthodox Church.
Simon’s film Sacred Alaska won best feature film in this year’s festival. Sacred Alaska explores how the Christian faith was presented to the Native People as the true fulfillment of what they already knew. The documentary shows the stories and lives of some of the first Russian monks who came from the island monasteries in Valaam, Russia, across Siberia and the treacherous Bering Sea, to the Alaskan islands and mainland. The story is not merely a historical look back but also explores what we can learn from Alaskan Orthodoxy alive today. It instructs us on being present, on becoming fully human, and on how we should care for the land, the animals, and one another.
Angelina Phoenix is a Filmmaker in Tampa Bay, Florida. She studied under the talented guidance of 5 time Emmy Award winner Jonathan Jackson in his poetry program of Art and Film, Theoria. Angelina’s first short film “Inside” won best short film at Bye zanfest Film Festival. She believes that through the power of cinema we should shine a light into the darkness of this world.
Angelina’s film Inside was the winner for best short film. Inside is the story of a woman who regrets her life decisions and clings onto childhood memories to comfort herself. This Social Awareness film aims to bring light and remembrance to those who have suffered in the sex work industry.
Lilly Scourtis is a Greek-American Los Angeles native, writer and directress. Her first feature film, Last Fast Ride, an award-winning documentary about Bay Area / singer Marian Anderson, premiered at Slamdance Film Festival, aired on PBS, and is currently streaming on Amazon.
Scourtis is drawn to dark material featuring female protagonists, as well as the exploration of archetypes, myth and folklore in storytelling. She holds an MFA in Film Directing from Columbia University’s prestigious School of the Arts, New York City, and a Bachelor’s in Classical Civilization from UCLA. She is an active member of the Greek Orthodox Church, and lives in LA County with her husband and two sons.
Lilly was awarded best screenplay in development for her script, Theodora and the Witch. The film is set in Zakynthos, Greece in 1918. After her mother dies, apparently of the flu, 15 year old aspiring scientist Theodora Augustino grows increasingly eager to solve the mystery. When she finds occult objects in the house, she begins to suspect her new stepmother of foul play. Demonic entities pursue Theodora as she follows one clue after the next, while otherworldly beings, including a “good witch” and an angel help her persevere.