Yorgos Lanthimos and Costa-Gavras are among Greek and international filmmakers that have joined a campaign to save three historic cinemas in Athens that are under threat of closure.
The “Ideal” in Panepistimiou Street, “Astor” in the Korai arcade, and “Aello” in Patision Street, have been marked for redevelopment by the Ministry of Labor that owns the properties.
Each of these cinemas hold special historical importance for the cinephiles of the Greek capital.
Campaigners say that redevelopment may result in their demolition and replacement with office complexes and luxury hotels. They call on authorities to save them by designating them as buildings of historical importance.
Reports say that “Ideal” has already been sold to a hotel chain.
Yorgos Lanthimos, who has received three Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay for The Lobster (2015) and Best Director and Best Picture for The Favourite (2018), has spoken out against the closure of the cinemas.
“I would also like to add my voice to those who have recently expressed their concern about the disappearance of the historic cinemas from the center of Athens”, Lanthimos says in a video message.
“We should be able to understand the value of the historical cinemas of Athens for society and culture. I plead with those in charge and those with real power to do what is necessary,” Lanthimos says.
Costa-Gavras joins campaign to save historic cinemas in Athens
Costa-Gavras, known for films with political and social themes, such as the political thriller Z (1969), for which he won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and Missing (1982), for which he won the Palme d’Or and an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, joined the campaign to save the historic Athenian cinemas.
He addressed the Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni, saying: “I’m sure she has cultural patriotism. And I hope she also has cinematic patriotism to save these theaters.”
President of Greece: Cinemas were hubs of culture
The President of the Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, also sent her own message. “We are losing cinemas, we lose the mystique of the room, the charm of the collective experience,” she said.
“We are losing spaces that were not just screening rooms, but hubs of culture. As they are cut off, one by one, from the body of the city, as well as other historical meeting places, old cafes or restaurants that were once the hubs of Athenian intellectual life, the memory of the city is also gradually lost,” she added.