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Katerina Moutsatsou: The Ministry of Culture Stole My Idea!

After the successful course she  had in Greece and Turkey, Katerina Moutsatsou continues her work in Los Angeles where she now resides permanently.  The famous actress talked to us about an important issue that bothered her but also surprised her. She revealed the details about the theft of her idea for a big project (Athens International Open- Air Film Festival AIO- AFF) that would took place in Athens, in which she would also participate in the creative sector and as the head of coordination together with a team from Greece and from other countries.

Tell us how the story for the project of Athens International Open- Air Film Festival started.

Three years ago I started a private initiative for young Greeks who live in Greece and abroad. The initial idea was that Athens would turn into something like “small Cannes” every summer using the summer movie theaters. Popular artists from all over the world from the area of cinema but also from other fields would come to Greece and Athens would become the center of the world due to this large cultural festivity. Through the attendance of big names, such a highly specific organization with a wide range, would immediately result in Greece having a more qualitative and economically more robust tourism. Summer movie theaters are popular with Athenians. I don’t think that there is a person in our country who doesn’t choose to watch movies in the summer movie theaters every summer. It’s in our culture, in our way of life as Greeks.  When we thought about it, what we liked more was the fact that this phenomenon was unique in the world. Athens has dozens of summer movie theaters! The idea was that simple! We got ourselves right away to work.

What happened next?

We are 8 people who have worked on this in the last 3 years in Greece, the States and Italy. And together with us we had outsourced colleagues, investors and supporters on an international level. We did a business survey that took us around 8 months to be completed and cost us a significant amount. In the ministry of culture and tourism there was a positive response from Angela Gerekou who told us to proceed. Unfortunately after a while she left her position. The last year we were asked by the Ministry of Culture to wait. We didn’t know what was going on and our efforts to communicate with the ministry were becoming more and more difficult. All this time they were preparing a pirated organization which was assigned to third parties and made sure that ΟΠΑΠ would give its sponsorship. The previous summer under the auspices of the ministry of Culture and through the program “Athens Every Week”, the “1st Athens Open Air Film Festival” took place.

Did you think of doing all this by yourself without any state assistance?

A Festival of such range isn’t possible without the State’s assistance. Cannes and Berlin for example are exclusively funded from their countries. And all the other European Film Festivals are at least 40% funded from government agencies. Despite all this and Greece’s economic situation in the last year, we managed to secure from our investors all the necessary funding. And what was done was done. A pirated undermined organization that must have happened knowingly in this way with the purpose of almost no one noticing it. The next move they made was to tell us we can also do our own thing. I said yes. There will be two festivals with the same name and in the same period. Their response was totally unreasonable. We are serious and we have proved that with our work. And I don’t get it. Who are they? Everybody is under suspicion about how they got the position they have today. Everybody else functions for us and the country in an honorable way. I don’t know these gentlemen nor do I want to talk anymore about them. We have followed the legal route that will take time. Except if a move is made from the Ministry of Culture in trying to solve this matter. Otherwise, we move forward impetuously. For me such an act is totally indecent. I don’t think that a copyright theft differs from any other theft. It’s still a theft. This is a very serious matter for me and I believe that everybody who was involved in this matter must be stigmatized for what has happened.

Do you believe that this is a general phenomenon that has to do with the crisis in Greece and everything else that happens today?

No. I don’t think so. I believe that these are the last bursts of the old system which has led to where we are right now. I believe that these are the last flashes. I also believe that we are the ones who will have the chance to fight back and change the system. And we will do it. It’s a matter for the district attorney to determine what has happened and whoever was involved in this case will be stigmatized.

The last years you live in Los Angeles. In what things do you believe this has helped you to evolve professionally and also as an artist?

Los Angeles helped me a lot. It brings you such difficulties that you have to sit down and think what to do in order to get your head out of the water. I always knew that in order to get my head out of the water, I had to study and learn. And I did things on the way. I went to UCLA for about a year and did Producing and Directing courses. I took those courses in order to learn. And there, I saw that what I was learning I already knew. I was just systematized by them. But I can’t say that the result of the movie I directed was because of the studies I did. It was because of my own experience I gained through time where I continuously kept things in until I found a way to express myself. And so, after this movie that was very low budget but had a valuable result, an idea came to me to continue to do these kind of movies, not as short films this time, but as features. So this is a company that deals with microbudget movies. We have already started with our second project. We will do the best possible to gather talented artists, from screenwriters to actors, and we will make very low budget movies with the purpose of finding distribution afterwards.This is, for me, the future of this generation. And it will be determinant. Since the technology allows us to do projects that have a better quality why not take the chance to do them?

Tell us about the short movie you recently directed in Los Angeles.

Loverly was my first attempt of a complete expression. It embedded all the elements… from the writing of the script, the direction, the production, the acting, even the art direction I did myself. Romanesque films started with the purpose of doing micro-budget films. After the successful attempt of “Loverly” the company will make two feature films in the next year targeting mostly the American market. I am looking forward to the next movie. Meanwhile I was offered to do the directing of my first music video in the States for the famous british singer, Remi Nicole. Her manager was found incidentally in a private screening of “Loverly” and asked me if I would be interested in directing her first music video in the States. As you understand I accepted immediately!

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