Film Co-Directed by Koula Sossiadis Kazista '91 Screened in Lehigh Valley

Even though it’s been 25 years since Bethlehem’s Koula Sossiadis Kazista saw “The Shawshank Redemption” for the first time, she still remembers how powerfully the picture impacted her.

“To this day it is still my favorite movie of all time,” she says. “I was just so affected afterwards. I left the theater in a daze thinking about Andy and Red on that beach. I went back to Lehigh [University] after I saw it and told my journalism professor that I was going into the film industry.”

While lots of folks dream of getting into movies, Koula made it a reality by working as production coordinator on a handful of big studio films, including “School of Rock,” “13 Going On 30” and “Anger Management.”

On “Anger Management,” she met her husband, and decided to move back to the Lehigh Valley to start a family. Together, the couple opened up a business called Monster Remotes in which they supply TV and film productions with rental equipment. But Koula never forgot her dream of becoming a filmmaker, and, this year, she partnered with her sister Katina Sossiadis (who helped produce “Getting Grace”) to write and direct a feature film called “Epiphany.”
The picture, which has been collecting prizes at film festivals all over the country, will be screened at Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas on Jan. 12 and at the Roxy Theater in Northampton on Jan. 26.

“Epiphany” is the story of a young woman named Luka (Caitlin Carmichael) who, following the death of the aunt who raised her, is hoping to re-connect with her father, who lives in a sponge-diving town in Florida.

When they were growing up, the Sossiadis sisters routinely accompanied their parents to Tarpon Springs, Florida, every year, where a Greek tradition involving young men diving after a crucifix captured their imaginations.

The sisters also noticed how the relaxed atmosphere of Tarpon Springs affected their garage-mechanic father, who emigrated to the Valley from Greece as a young man. In a sense, their movie first took root during these family vacations.

“In Tarpon almost everyone is Greek,” recalls Koula, who is preparing to shoot her next movie with her sister in Bethlehem. “There are Greek restaurants everywhere and you can even find older people who only speak Greek. It is like being in Greece.
“So for our father, he was comfortable and it helped my sister and I connect with him in a way that we couldn’t while we were home in Pennsylvania.

“He also would always try to shove being Greek down our throats and we hated it. We grew up that way and around the Greek customs and culture, and one day we woke up and loved our ethnicity.

“You mature and want to know your roots and you appreciate them. `Epiphany’ was our gift back to our father: an ode to our Greek heritage. It really is what defines us.’

This article originally appeared in The Morning Call on January 2, 2020.

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