Public event

My rembetika blues: a film screening and discussion with director Mary Zournazi, moderated by Harry Killas

November 10, 2022

Rembetika music or the Greek blues is a music born of exile and the streets. Developing its roots from the mass migration of people in the early twentieth century, filmmaker Mary Zournazi traces the journey of her forebears from Smyrna in Turkey to Sydney Australia but discovers more than family history, she finds out how music connects people during times of struggle and crises. By weaving together different stories of music and migration, she documents experiences that are often left out of the chronicles of history.

Join us for what is to be the first in a series of events held in collaboration with UCLA's SNF Center for the Study of Hellenic Culture in Los Angeles, California. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) for this pilot program, which seeks to create networks across the West Coast of North America and between the West Coast and Greece.

Following the screening of My Rembetika Blues, director Mary Zournazi will be joined onstage by Canadian director, writer and producer, Harry Killas, for discussion on the development of the film.

Friday, December 2, 2022

5:30 PM Doors

6:00 PM Screening


Labatt Hall

Room 1700
Simon Fraser University Harbour Centre
515 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 5K3

This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Contact if you have any questions or would like to register without Eventbrite. Viewers should be aware that the film's dialogue contains English, with some Greek.

Simon Fraser University respectfully acknowledges the unceded traditional territories including, the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations, on which SFU Vancouver is located.

You can read the abstract, speaker bio, and learn more about Edward and Emily McWhinney, below.

My Rembetika Blues film trailer


My Rembetika Blues is a film about the power of music and what makes us human. Rembetika music or the Greek blues is a music of the streets and a music of refugees. The film explores the heart and soul of Rembetika music through peoples’ stories of love, loss and belonging.

Rembetika developed its roots from migrant experience. Zournazi's grandmother was one of the 1.2 million refugees who fled the Smyrna disaster in Turkey in 1922 and arrived at the Port of Piraeus in Greece. She, like many, became part of a movement of people, and of tradition, which saw the birth Rembetika. Through its rawness and unique style, Rembetika provides one of the world’s foremost musical accounts of migrant experience.

Through her grandmother's story, Zournazi narrates a personal account of the depth of longing and belonging that is part of the migrant life. By weaving together different stories and interviews, the film looks at the legacies of history and migration, and how music can connect people in times of struggle and in times of need.

Drawing on the parallels of the migrant and economic crisis in Greece, the film explores the revival of Rembetika today, and how it continues to convey everyday life and struggle through the fusion of street music, hip-hop, and other influences such as Byzantine music and the Blues.

The film documents peoples’ memory and experiences that are often left out of the chronicles of history. It is a universal story about love, life and music.

Australian film maker Mary Zournazi

Mary Zournazi Bio

Mary Zournazi is an Australian film maker, author and cultural philosopher. Her multi-awarding winning documentary Dogs of Democracy (2017) was screened worldwide. Her most recent documentary film, My Rembetika Blues is a film about life, love and Greek music. She is the author of several books including Hope - New Philosophies for Change, Inventing Peace with the German filmmaker Wim Wenders and most recently Justice and Love: A Philosophical Dialogue with Rowan Williams.

Canadian director, writer and producer Harry Killas

Moderator Bio

Harry Killas is a Canadian director, writer and producer whose films have screened at major international festivals including Bilbao, Clermont-Ferrand, Oberhausen, Palm Springs, Torino, Toronto and Vancouver. His documentaries have screened at festivals and museums across Canada and internationally, and have been broadcast by BBC, BBC Worldwide, Bravo!, CBC, CTV affiliates, Knowledge, NHK, TVO  and various European broadcasters. Recent credits include three feature-length documentaries: Is There A Picture on the first generation of the Vancouver School of photo-conceptual artists; Greek to Me, an autobiographical look at family, filmmaking and Greek ethnicity; and Superkids 2, a profile of highly gifted learners, filmed over a time span of 15 years. Harry is a graduate of Stanford University (A.M., A.B.) and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Graduate School of Film and Television (M.F.A.)  He resides in Vancouver where he is Associate Professor, Film + Screen Arts, at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

For more information about the SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies and its programs, please visit our Media page.

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