×

After Latest Elections, Greek Filmmakers Look Ahead With Uncertainty

ATHENS — As weary Greek voters headed to the polls this week for the third time this year, hoping to find a way out of an ongoing political and economic quagmire, local bizzers gathered Thursday night to toast an industry that’s proven surprisingly resilient throughout the country’s protracted crisis.

While the event hosted by the Hellenic Film Academy, which screened trailers for the country’s upcoming slate of new releases, brought in a packed and spirited crowd, many in attendance echoed the dour mood of recent months.

“I think everyone is exhausted and fed up,” said producer Amanda Livanou. “I can sense a mood of helplessness.”

Throughout the gloomy years of the economic crisis back home, Greek helmers have met with global acclaim. Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Dogtooth,” which won the Prix Un Certain Regard at Cannes in 2009, earned a foreign language Oscar nomination. Athina Rachel Tsangari’s “Attenberg” was nominated for a Golden Lion in Venice in 2010, the same year that Syllas Tzoumerkas’ debut, “Homeland,” premiered at the fest’s International Critics’ Week. This year Yorgos Zois’ “Interruption” had a Venice debut, while Lanthimos’ “The Lobster” was a hit at Cannes.

The critical success abroad, though, has belied the domestic challenges. “The market has shrunk a lot since five years ago,” said producer Maria Drandaki. “The last five years, more money comes from abroad … and less from the Greek box office.”

From a peak of almost 12 million tickets sold in 2010, fewer than 9 million were sold last year. And after 31 feature films were released in 2011, just 17 hit the screens in 2014.

The financial environment for local productions is bleak. A political shake-up at the state-funded Greek Film Center last year has slowed its disbursements. Pubcaster ERT — abruptly shuttered by the government in 2013 — has been slow to commission since being reinstated in June. And last month, the government abolished a tax on ticket sales that had been a significant source of coin for Greek producers.

“There hasn’t been proper funding,” said Livanou, who’s currently in production with “Park,” by first-time helmer Sofia Exarchou. “Park” was the first Greek project ever selected for the Sundance Directors Lab. Instead, she said, producers have been forced to adapt.

“We just found some private money [for “Park”] and we went ahead,” said Livanou.

Bizzers are also awaiting the relaxation of capital controls, which currently limit cash withdrawals and spending in Greece, as well as the ability to send money abroad. The limits have been a blow to the many small, indie productions which rely on cash in hand to get made.

“Low-budget is dead with capital controls,” said Livanou.

Like many Greeks looking for a ray of hope, Drandaki saw a positive sign that the government of prime minister Alexis Tsipras’s Syriza party emerged from its strong showing in Sunday’s elections with a “clear mandate” to govern.

Now bizzers are waiting for a “very clear decision from the government” to show its support of the industry, she said.

More Film

  • Female-Led and LGBTQ Narratives Win Big

    Female-Led and LGBTQ Narratives Win Big At Durban FilmMart Awards

    DURBAN–Female-driven narratives and daring portraits of queer culture around the continent were the big winners at this year’s Durban FilmMart (DFM), the industry program of the Durban Intl. Film Festival, which handed out awards at a ceremony Monday night at the Southern Sun Maharani Hotel. Among the prize-winners were the story of a Zimbabwean woman [...]

  • Oscar Nominations Reactions Phyllis Nagy

    Screenwriter Phyllis Nagy Runs for Writers Guild Presidency, Citing Agency Stalemate

    Oscar-nominated screenwriter Phyllis Nagy is challenging Writers Guild of America West’s incumbent president David Goodman, citing his handling of the bitter stalemate between the WGA and Hollywood agents. Nagy announced her candidacy online Monday night, a day before the deadline for filing. She made the announcement  in a private online group as part of Writers for [...]

  • Klaudia-Reynicke

    Locarno: Summerside Picks Up ‘Love Me Tender’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Rome-based Summerside Intl. has acquired international sales rights to Klaudia Reynicke’s “Love Me Tender.” The second feature from Peru-born and Switzerland-based filmmaker will receive its world premiere at the Locarno Festival in its Filmmakers of the Present competition, which focuses on first and second features. Summerside Intl. is the world sales agent, excluding and Lichtenstein [...]

  • Elsie Fisher and Bo Burnham2019 Writers

    Writers Guild Announces 2020 Awards Show Date

    The 72nd Annual Writers Guild Awards will take place in coinciding ceremonies in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hilton and the Edison Ballroom in New York on Feb. 1, the Writers Guild of America announced. The WGA will begin voting in November and will reveal this year’s TV nominees Dec. 5 and film Jan. 6. [...]

  • Tarantino Movies Ranked Illustration

    All of Quentin Tarantino's Movies Ranked

    In the history of cinema, has any director done more to elevate the idea of movies as cool than Quentin Tarantino? Certainly, the idea that films could be made by fans dates back at least to the French New Wave, when a group of die-hard critics stepped behind the camera. A few years later, Spielberg, [...]

  • A Stranger on the Beach

    Anonymous Content Wins Film Rights to Michele Campbell's 'A Stranger on the Beach' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Anonymous Content has won the adaptive rights to the forthcoming Michele Campbell novel “A Stranger on the Beach.” In a competitive situation, Anonymous outbid multiple players for the thriller, which it will adapt for the big screen with in-house producers Alex Goldstone and Rosalie Swedlin. “Stranger” has been likened to sensual thrillers like “Fatal Attraction” [...]

  • Ridley Scott Matt Damon Ben Affleck

    Ridley Scott, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Nicole Holofcener Team on 'The Last Duel'

    Ridley Scott looks to have his next directing job, as he has signed on to direct “The Last Duel” with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck attached to star. Damon and Affleck co-wrote the script with Oscar-nominated Nicole Holofcener. Scott, Damon and Affleck all producing along with Scott’s producing partner Kevin Walsh. Drew Vinton is also [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content