Nia Karteris has been synonymous with Greek community events for over 15 years, as she has worked tirelessly to bring and sustain the best in Greek cultural, language and arts events for the Greek community of Sydney. With the Greek Film Festival kicking off next week, GCT recently had a chat with Nia about her involvement with the Greek Film Festival and her passion for all things Greek.
Where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born in Greece, and I now live in Marrickville- Sydney’s inner west.
What part of Greece are your ancestors from?
Agrinio, Central Greece.
Tell us about your involvement with the Greek community over the years?
I’ve been Chair of the Greek Festival of Sydney since 2004 and a Director of the Greek Orthodox Community of NSW since 2002. I have been involved with the Greek Festival and Film Festival since 1999.
What has your involvement with the Greek Festival and Greek Film Festival for so many years taught you about the Greek Australian community?
The Greek Australian community has taught me to be proud of my heritage and to embrace it. Showcasing the wonderful talent we have here is inspiring and it is truly an honour to be part of it. Our community is enriched with 2nd, 3rd and 4th generations of young people who embrace their culture and heritage through music, arts, theatre, film etc. They deserve the respect and being able to showcase their work for all to admire, is truly an honour.
What have been some of the highlights of your involvement with the Greek community?
There have been too many to mention, and sometimes even the smallest event can touch you and teach you so much. But just to mention one, Mikis Theodorakis' Axion Esti with George Ellis as the conductor and Vasilis Lekkas from Greece was an amazing experience at the Sydney Recital Hall.
What are you working on at the moment?
Preparing this year’s Greek Film Festival, which opens on Tuesday 11th of October and runs until Sunday 23rd October, and also commencing work for the 2017 Greek Festival of Sydney.
What inspires you?
Our parents and grandparents who risked everything to come to this country without the knowledge of the English language, Australian way of life and sacrificing their lives for us. Also to the founders of the Greek Orthodox Community of NSW back in 1898 who had a vision to promote the Greek language, culture and our traditions.
Who would you love to bring out to Australia as part of either the Greek Festival or Greek Film Festival?
As part of the Greek Festival of Sydney the legend Mikis Theodorakis, but unfortunately due to his age and health this is not possible. I think we have been extremely fortunate to have had all high calibre artists be part of the festival including the National Theatre of Greece on two occasions. As for the Greek Film Festival we were so close to having the late Theo Angelopoulos here for a retrospective but unfortunately this did not come to fruition. There are many talented film makers currently in Greece that would only add value to the film festival; unfortunately, it’s always an issue of financial restrictions. You see it’s hard to get financial support from the corporate world in the Arts, and this puts a burden on the community to sustain such costs.
What is one thing we may not know about Nia Karteris?
That my favourite team is Olympiakos.
How has your upbringing influenced the work you do today?
My late mother was my biggest influence. She always told me that in life you should be a giver and not a taker. When you can help someone, just do it without expecting anything in return. She practiced what she preached. Giving to the community I believe has made me a better person.
What is one piece of ancestral knowledge that you remember to this day?
We are all equals in life.
Aside from your family, which Greeks have influenced you?
Being part of the Greek Orthodox Community gave me the opportunity to meet some amazing people who go unrecognised for all their hard work and efforts to ensure our heritage, language and culture are not compromised and to pass on their knowledge to the younger generation so they can carry on these values for many years. These elders apart from my family have been a great influence in my life. They have showed trust in me to continue their hard work and efforts.
What is your favourite Greek food?
My late mother’s home made pites.