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Greek Filmmakers Protest Over Cutbacks

As Greek public servants shut down cities with strikes to protest the belt-tightening sweeping the country, the film business has joined in the chorus of malcontent.
“The crisis unveiled completely the structural deficiency of the Greek Film Center and the Ministry of Culture regarding cinema,” says Filippos Tsitos, helmer of black comedy “Unfair World.” He adds that the Film Center, for decades, the primary source of coin for local filmmakers, has been promising funds – sometimes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars – although it has not been dispersing any coin in the past two years.
The center won’t even give out the 20% required by most co-production agreements needed to partner with foreign productions, says Tsitos, who adds that the Film Center has massive debts, although numbers weren’t available.
With Greek filmmakers unable to raise even their 20% share of budgets, they’ll no longer be able to join forces with countries in better financial health, as other small nations in the region do. That’s frustrating to the new wave of Greek filmmakers like Athina Rachel Tsangari (“Attenberg”) and Yiorgos Lanthimos (“Dogtooth”), who are winning kudos abroad and rely on co-production to make their films.
“The government could have shut down other useless organizations instead of giving up on something that actually has to do with our national culture, in terms of films, TV documentaries and audiovisual material,” says Greek helmer Constantine Giannaris, whose films are getting a retrospective at Thessaloniki.
Despite all the closures, Giannaris says, there seems to be a renaissance taking place. “It is on a low-budget level, but, nevertheless, there seems to be an explosion of creativity and a lot of work being done, particularly by younger filmmakers in their 30s and early 40s,” Giannaris adds.
That the creative surge is taking place amid a national crisis, says Giannaris, is all the more inspiring.
(source: Variety Film News)

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