The last time I’ve seen a movie that somewhat reminded me of “Once upon a time in America”, a 1984 Italian epic crime drama film co-written and directed by Sergio Leone and starring Robert De Niro and James Woods was last week, when I watched A Green Story, minus the mafia and crime.
Here in America we get jetted enough not to notice many of the independent films that are being made that carry a very important message. With so many films produced in Hollywood and across the globe, we have too many choices, and unless we make an effort to research what’s out there and make wise decisions that would teach us something about the today’s society, we’d never come about these great independent films. Thanks to the international film festivals and the word-of-mouth, we sometimes happend to come upon the films that will always be timeless.
A Green Story is based on the life of the Earth Friendly Products’ CEO, Van Vlahakis, who, like many of the immigrants in America, came to this country to make a better life for himself and his family, and who ended up doing good for not only for his new home-country of America, but also for the people around. Perhaps Vlahakis could be somewhat compared to the likes of Martha Stewart, Rudy Giuliani and Arianna Huffington, each one of whom brought something to this country and made it a little bit better. And there are many such great living examples among us that we might not notice until now.
This is the power of the United State of America – in the hands of the immigrants, as the country has been built on immigrants. We all came from somewhere and we, our parents and/or our grandparents tried to make it better. Not all can achieve it, but it’s definitely possible in this country like nowhere else.
Stories like A Green Story should be seen. They should be heard. Because they inspire.
They inspire not only the American citizens, but the newly immigrants, who should know that not only anything can be possible in America, but that their decisions and efforts would be seen and appreciated at some point. USA gives an opportunity to be happy and prosperous to everyone who wants to work at it. And this is exactly what the movie is about, which opened on May 24, 2013 with the red carpet premiers in Los Angeles and New York City. Now it’s also available on Amazon and Direct TV.
Van Vlahakis, the main character of A Green Story, left Greece five decades ago with 22 dollars in his pocket. He arrived in the US hoping for a better future for him and his family. Eftichios – as is his Greek name- not only managed to live the American dream for himself, but also created Earth Friendly Products, a US giant for environmentally friendly cleaning products. His story is not only about transforming his life but also the lives of the ones around him as the owner and CEO of Earth Friendly Products.
The story centers on the modern day Vlahakis (played by Ed O’Ross), who is diagnosed with cancer and given only a few months to live. During this time, he reflects on his early life as an immigrant (played by George Finn) during the 1950s and ultimately decides to push himself to the limit by closing one final business deal that will seal his company’s success, even if it means taking on a large corporation that is trying to take over his company.
Making the decision that might effect the future of his life-long beliefs – beliefs of making a healthier life for everyone around, the goal he’s been studying so hard towards since the first day he got to USA as a teenager, not knowing much English – is not easy for Vlahakis. His idea of an environmentally safe product, as much as we’d like to believe is something that the today’s society – especially the eco-friendly and environmentally conscious members – wants is, in truth, not as easy to grow.
The bigger and more powerful companies are more concerned about the cost of production and profits than about the impact their products make on the country and the world in general. To compete with these companies is almost impossible, and this is exactly what the struggle of Vlahakis business and ideals are. However, the objective of the movie is to show that it can be done, especially if more and more companies would recognize the need to be more environmentally conscious.
A Green Story, an independent film from first time writer and director Nick Agiashvili, tells the true story of a truly original green entrepreneur – someone who chooses to live his life to the fullest, surrounding himself with the people he loves and like-minded individuals, who also believe in the good he’s doing.
For a small film from a new writer and director, A Green Story boasts an impressive cast of well-known actors like Hollywood veteran Ed O’Ross who portrays Vlahakis and Shannon Elizabeth of American Pie fame who plays his daughter, Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks. The movie also stars Billy Zane and Malcolm McDowell.
Taken that the film’s budget was far from the Hollywood blockbuster merit and that it is from an unknown young director, one would wonder, why all these well-known actors would want to do this film?
In one of the interviews, Hollywood actress Shannon Elizabeth has revealed that she is more comfortable in a movie with an environmental message than the gross-out comedies. Shannon said the film had a message that was close to her heart. She said she always trying to be green and environmental. Being a vegan herself, she’s been wanting to do a project that is meaningful and when she read the script she knew it was what I wanted to do. Many famous co-stars would agree with her.
I really enjoyed A Green Story as well.
Being an immigrant myself, it ‘spoke’ to me on so many levels. It reminded me of how hard I wanted to study – and still do – when I came to USA at the age of 15 – pretty much at the same age as the main character of the film. For the first six years – in high school and college – I made all the efforts to be involved in everything that the school and campus had to offer to the students. I saw how my parents struggled and I wanted to make my and their future much better. I’m sure a lot of people can associate with it, no matter how ‘foreign’ they were or are to America.
Moreover, I know that this film project comes from the heart of its creators, mainly – Nick Agiashvili, who I got to know almost 12 years ago, while he was still a student at the LA Film School and I was living in Los Angeles, freshly out of my college.
Agiashvili was already ambitious and full of ideas then. His energy is of envy to one. We bonded over many creative ideas, and he even shot some of his school projects at my LA apartment. It was very interesting to see him grow as an individual and professional, and it was especially good to see him do something that is close to his heart and making this project to happen.
That’s said, I had to ask him more questions about this film, right after I’ve seen it. Even though I knew some of the answers to these questions just by knowing him personally, I wanted for you to get to know both this young and aspiring Hollywood director and his very first full-feature film that carries on a very important message:
Alisa Krutovsky, usedview.com: Where the interest to make this film – about this subject matter – came from?
Nick Agiashvili, President of Production, PARAMYTH FILMS: Our production company was looking for the next film to do and we were looking both at what kind of subject matter was most relevant at the time and also already knowing that we would have a very low budget we wanted to make a film that we knew would have a built in audience.
A.K.: What interested you in the script?
N.A.: The real Van Vlahakis who the film is based on led a very interesting life, when I stared doing research on him and his company I saw that there were many different stories that I could tell, but the one that drew me the most was the true American Dream story of his life. How as a young man he came over with only 22 dollars in his pocket and was able to achieve is dreams with hard work and resilience. I myself came to the Unite States when I was young.
A.K.: Where do you find the relevance of what you show in the film (in the story) to today’s society, issues, people, country?
N.A.: I think the message that Green living is good for not only good of the environment but also your health is very important today. The great thing is that there is so much information out there now about how to lead a healthy lifestyle that a lot of people are able to do it.
A.K.: Do you consider yourself an art-house, independent, blockbuster film director to be and/or to become? (what kind of a film director do you consider yourself to be?)
N.A.: I consider myself a director that is still learning and growing with each film that I make. So far I’ve only worked on low budget indie films, but with each film our budget has grown and we have been able to expand the scope of what we can put on the screen.
A.K.: What’s in the future? Are you going to continue making films about the subject matters that close to you and/or the society, or to make them out and for pure entertainment?
N.A.: I am going to keep making stories that are close to me, hopefully they will be entertaining for people to watch. The subject matter will change with each one.
A.K.: Do you agree with your main character’s attitude towards his profession & his eco/green products?
N.A.: I believe that America is a country where if you have a goal or a dream and you work hard for it you can achieve it.
A.K.: Where (what locations) did you shoot the film?
N.A.: The film was shot in Los Angeles, California Chicago, Illinois and Athens, Greece over a 20 day period. We build the 1950’s and 60’s sets in Los Angeles.
A.K.: What cultures participated in making the movies (foreign language tutors, foreign actors, foreign production stuff, consultants, etc.)
N.A.: A big part of our cast is Greek, so we had many Greeks involved when it came to accents, dialects, etc. We also shot the first opening scenes of the film in Greece in all Greek and German.
A.K.: What are you working on next?
N.A.: We are in post production on a feature film called Tbilisi, My City. Which is about the capital of my country Georgia. And next is a film I wrote and am directing called Savage Mutts, which is a character study of a career criminal after he gets out of jail.
A.K.: Thank you, Nika. It was a great pleasure watching your film and I wish all the best in your future film endeavors.
On July 7, 2013 Feelgood Entertainment announced that it will be giving Paramyth Films’ “A Green Story” theatrical distribution in Greece. A Green Story is set to premier in Athens, Greece on July 15th, 2013 and will be in theaters in Athens on July 18th.
A Green Story premiered at last year’s Los Angeles Greek Film Festival, where it caught the attention of Feelgood Entertainment. “It is a great honor and a source of inspiration to bring this fascinating Greek American dream to the big screen,” said Feelgood Entertainment’s Managing Director Irini Souganidou. “More than ever, this is a time to share exemplary, true stories with the Greek audience.”
This sounds just about right to me. Not only Greece, but many other countries could benefit from bringing this film to their audiences. I know New Yorkers would have appreciated seeing this film, taken that Michael Bloomberg’s continuous efforts to make the city healthier and more friendlier to the environment is quite a ‘talk of the town’, bringing both controversy and hope for a better, healthier future.
You can see A Green Story on Amazon, Direct TV, and Hulu.
You can also join the film’s official fan page on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.