Greek Director Picks Up the Tab for Her Film ‘Marjoram’

After film’s funding falls through, Olga Malea's tale of economic woe hits too close to home

Making movies in Greece these days is an odyssey, laments helmer Olga Malea, who was left holding the bag in June when the government pulled the plug on bloated pubcaster ERT.

ERT owes Malea co-production coin for “Marjoram,” a psychological drama about a mother-daughter relationship in which an 11-year-old strives to win a TV kiddie cooking contest to please her mom — and to help pay the bills.

In terms of narrative, economic woes are only the backdrop of the film; but in terms of production, the crisis is the main element.

Prominent Greek production shingle Studio Ata, which had committed to cover the bulk of the pic’s €300,000 ($393,000) budget, went bankrupt and shuttered in March 2012 after four decades in biz, four months before the pic’s shoot was set to start.

Undeterred, Malea forged on, and produced “Marjoram” under her own shingle, Malea Prods., with a mere $106,000 in place from co-producers Nova and ERT.

ERT still has to make good on $33,000 of the $66,000 the pubcaster invoiced to Malea as paid. “I truly hope it will eventually be paid, otherwise I will have to pay VAT tax on it; it’s a weird, surreal situation,” she says.

Cast and crew worked for scale and potential revenue points.

In April, distrib Feelgood opened “Marjoram” on three screens in Athens. It reached a small but satisfactory 3,000 admissions over six weeks.

The picture marks Malea’s first foray into drama following five comedies — all have been hits, making Malea among her country’s best-known directors.

The helmer says she’s learned her lesson. “Maybe I will write another psychological drama like ‘Marjoram’ someday, but I won’t shoot it unless I have a producer,” she vows.

Meanwhile, she’s shopping around her next project. And yes, it’s a comedy.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • The Great Outdoor documentary series about

    Farm to Picture: Documentary Series 'The Great Outdoor' Chronicles a Life Gone to Pot

    Cannabis cultivation in the Emerald Triangle, the area in Northern California that has long been a go-to for growers, has a starring role in a new documentary series called “The Great Outdoor.” Funded by Flow Kana, one of the state’s leading cannabis flower brands, filmed by David Zlutnick, and executive-produced by Flow Kana co-founder Flavia [...]

  • 1982 El Gouna Festival

    Egypt's El Gouna Film Festival Puts Arab Helmers at Center Stage

    The upbeat state of Arab cinema will be on the screen and in the balmy air at Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival (Sept. 19-27), which is steadily gaining traction in its stated ambition to become a key platform and solid driver for Middle-East producers. “This year was one the best for Arab cinema,” says Intishal [...]

  • Star Skipper Paramount Animation

    Meet Star Skipper, Paramount Animation's Magical New Trademark Logo Character

    Studio logos are powerful signals to audiences.  Multiple generations of moviegoers flipping through channels or scanning streaming titles have frozen at the sight of a desk lamp hopping across the screen, because it means a Pixar movie is about to play. Likewise, when a young boy lounging inside a crescent moon casts his fishing line into [...]

  • Sybil

    Cannes Competition Movie 'Sibyl' Finds North American Home With Music Box (EXCLUSIVE)

    Music Box Films has acquired the U.S. and Canadian rights to Justine Triet’s darkly comic drama “Sibyl,” which competed at Cannes and had its North American premiere at Toronto in the Special Presentation section. Represented in international markets by mk2, the film follows the ambiguous relationship between Sibyl, a jaded psychotherapist (Virginie Efira, “An Impossible [...]

  • Kent Jones Directs 'Diane'

    Kent Jones to Exit New York Film Festival (EXCLUSIVE)

    In a surprise move, New York Film Festival’s director and selection committee chair of seven years Kent Jones will step down following this year’s 57th edition, which runs Sept. 27-Oct. 13. The departure comes as Jones’ feature filmmaking career is taking off. Issues of potential conflicts of interest have arisen as his work has moved [...]

  • Ava-Mark-Split

    Ava DuVernay, Mark Ruffalo Selected for SAG-AFTRA Foundation Honors

    Ava DuVernay and Mark Ruffalo have been selected by the SAG-AFTRA Foundation for its fourth Annual Patron of the Artists Awards. The awards will be presented on Nov. 7 at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. The show benefits the nonprofit SAG-AFTRA Foundation and is not televised. Previous SAG-AFTRA Foundation Patron of the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content