Los Angeles Times

Greeks and geeks

Times Staff Writer

As one movie festival this weekend celebrates everything Greek, another pays tribute to all that is geek.

The first Los Angeles Greek Film Festival opens tonight at the Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills with the U.S. premiere of Udayan Prasad's "Opa!" Matthew Modine, Agni Tsagaridou and Richard Griffiths star in this romantic comedy about an American archeologist who goes to a small Greek island to complete his father's quest for a chalice used by St. John and in the process falls for a single mother.

The festival, which continues through Sunday, includes 24 feature films and shorts — 19 of which are U.S. premieres — as well as special panels and a gala closing-night ceremony that features the inaugural Orpheus Awards for best dramatic feature, documentary, short film, direction and audience choice.

Meanwhile, the American Cinematheque is embracing its inner nerd with a festival titled "A Tribute to 1982: The Greatest Year in Geek Cinema" on Friday through Sunday at the Aero Theatre.

Produced in association with Geek Monthly magazine, the retrospective kicks off Friday with John Carpenter's creepy-crawly remake of "The Thing," starring Kurt Russell, Keith David and Wilford Brimley, as well as Paul Schrader's erotic re-imagining of Val Lewton's 1942 classic horror film, "Cat People," featuring Nastassja Kinski in various states of undress.

On tap for Saturday afternoon is Jim Henson and Frank Oz's puppet fantasy "The Dark Crystal," followed by a discussion with screenwriter David Odell.

Tobe Hooper's bone-chilling ghost story "Poltergeist" visits the Aero on Saturday night. The thriller, produced by Steven Spielberg, revolves around a typical American family who discovers that its new suburban home is filled with malevolent forces. Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Heather O'Rourke and Beatrice Straight star. "Poltergeist" writer Michael Grais and actor James Karen will appear after the screening.

Sharing the bill is the George Romero-Stephen King anthology chiller "Creepshow," which was inspired by EC horror comics. Hal Holbrook, E.G. Marshall, Ted Danson, Leslie Nielsen, Ed Harris and King himself star in this hit B flick.

Sunday's double bill kicks off with "Tron," the underrated action-thriller from Disney that is considered the first major feature to extensively use computer graphics. After the screening, "Tron" actors Cindy Morgan and Bruce Boxleitner, writer-director Steve Lisberger and visual effects supervisors Harrison Ellenshaw and Richard Taylor will discuss the film.

Rounding out the evening is "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," thought by many to be the best of the "Star Trek" features. Directed by Nicholas Meyer, the sci-fi adventure features a ferocious performance — and pretty amazing pecs — from Ricardo Montalbán as the vengeful Khan. He originally played Khan in the 1967 "Space Seed" episode of "Star Trek." The film also marked the debut of Kirstie Alley. Meyer is scheduled to appear at the screening.



Los Angeles Greek Film Festival

"Opa!": 7 tonight

Where: Fine Arts Theatre, 8556 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills

Info: www.lagreekfilmfestival.org

A Tribute to 1982: The Greatest Year in Geek Cinema

"The Thing" and "Cat People": 7:30 p.m. Friday

"The Dark Crystal": 3 p.m. Saturday

"Poltergeist" and "Creepshow": 7:30 p.m. Saturday

"Tron" and "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan": 5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica

Info: (323) 466-3456, americancinematheque.com

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