Greek filmmakers continue fest protests

Demand funding, tax rebates to build industry

Greek filmmakers are continuing their campaign of festival protests as they push for a new film law in line with European and international standards — despite the failure of their recent action.

A boycott by 19 filmmakers of the Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival, which wraps today, didn’t make an impact. There were 68 Greek entries this year compared with 61 last year.

However, the 250 members of Filmmakers of Greece (FOG) say they will fight on.

“We need a constructive film law that will set standards, regulations and incentives that are in line with the rest of the European and international film community,” FOG said in a statement.

Last November widespread protests by filmmakers forced the cancellation of the Greek State Film Awards after 52 films pulled out of national sections of the Thessaloniki Intl. Film Festival, which hosts the awards.

The action by FOG — which claims to represent the majority of Greek filmmakers — disrupted fest screenings where only eight local films were shown.

This week’s action at the doc fest has not had the same affect.

“A total of 19 out of the 40 Greek documentaries are screening as part of the official selection; this is the highest number of Greek documentaries ever screened in the 12 years of the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival’s existence,” fest organizers said.

FOG acknowledged that at a time of national austerity — the EU only last week agreed a bail-out plan for the indebted Greek government — official priorities are “elsewhere.”

“Although there have been promises, little has materialized and with the ‘impending collapse’ of the Greek economy, priorities are elsewhere,” FOG said in a statement.

Problems that have plagued Greek filmmakers for years — lack of film education, funding, tax rebates and investment incentives — are chief among the points FOG wants addressed in a new law.

Speedier payments from the state-funded Greek Film Center would also help, FOG said, suggesting that the “painstakingly slow”

procedures “effectively make the filmmakers sole producers, lenders and funders of most Greek films.”