US company Fifth Season, a global leader in TV distribution, has acquired the international rights to the upcoming Greek TV show Milky Way, written and directed by Greek filmmaker Vasilis Kekatos, who won the Short Film Palme d’Or in Cannes in 2019.
The eight-episode drama series, which will premiere in Greece today (November 2), was produced by Foss Productions for Greek commercial broadcaster Mega Channel.
The deal with Fifth Season was announced by producer Stelios Kotionis at the avant-premiere screening for the show in Athens, which was attended by GreekReporter.
Milky Way is Mega Channel’s third fiction show within two years to make it internationally after Maestro in Blue and Silent Road.
Teamwork behind Greek TV show Milky Way
“[Making the series] has been a beautiful journey for me, in terms of story-telling,” Kekatos told the audience at the show’s avant-premiere screening in September.
The up-and-coming Greek filmmaker admitted that the producers took “an incredible risk” in trusting him with creating a 460-minute television series, since he had only had a filmography of short movies up to this point, albeit those had been successful in festivals.
In his first meetings with his producer from Foss, Kekatos never thought that his boundary-pushing script idea would even get approved by Mega Channel. However, it did, and he got a three-month deadline to prepare it for production.
The series scriptwriters helped him to organize and break down his plot into episodes for television broadcasting. This was an entirely new narrative structure for him.
“It’s cinema what I want to make [as a creative], but when this project came up, I served it with all the love and the heart that I would put into a movie,” Kekatos commented.
Milky Way among top European TV show of 2023
Written and filmed in the Greek countryside during the pandemic, Milky Way stars Korina Dullaart, Konstantinos Georgopoulos, Nikolakis Zegkinoglou, Andreas Konstantinou, and Gioulika Skafida.
The young adult/society drama show, set to premiere on Greek linear TV and its exclusive streaming partner, Vodafone TV Greece, on November 2nd, had its international premiere at the Series Mania festival in Lille, France last March. It was included in the festival’s competition among the top eight European series of the year.
Milky Way was described by Series Mania as a “poetic series which transports us to the dreamlike landscapes of the Greek mountains,” as it presents “a touching approach on friendship and coming-of-age.”
The script follows high-school senior Maria, who aspires to leave her small town and become a dancer—that is, until she finds her dreams colliding with an unwanted pregnancy.
“This leads her to stand up against the decisions imposed on her as right and moral by her surroundings, find her own path in life and finally claim her right to self-determination,” the series summary reads.
Το Milky Way στο MEGA έρχεται για να ξεγυμνώσει τους υπερασπιστές της πατριαρχίας, τους κρυφο ρατσιστές και κάθε λογής φασίστες και να δώσει μια γερή γροθιά στο στομάχι στον καθωσπρεπισμό των δήθεν νοικοκυραίων. Επιβάλλεται να την δεις με το τηλεκοντρόλ μακρια! #MilkyWay pic.twitter.com/hNCSOFZNFR
— prezatv (@prezatv) November 1, 2023
A different approach to TV characters beyond local stereotypes
Entertaining the viewer is a focal element in Kekatos’ filmmaking style. Hence, the story in Milky Way is told with generous doses of humor, all without downgrading the importance of the issues it grapples with.
Kekatos revealed at the Athens avant-premiere that he made a deliberate decision that the show would be character—rather than plot—driven.
Since behaviors observed on television are often imitated by viewers, he believes Greek society could benefit from watching a variety of characters rather than the masculine macho stereotype that dominates local dramas.
The filmmaker observed that Greek viewers “love the horror,” as it makes them feel better about themselves, and they are better able to tolerate their own actual behaviors and circumstances.
“That’s not what I wish to do,” Kekatos explained. “There is enough [horror] in society already. Television is unlike cinema; it is a popular mass medium, accessible to anyone, which triggers imitation [in real life]. I am not saying that I am setting the good example, but rather that we should also get to see characters with different reactions than what we usually see.”
However, he didn’t intend to “send a message” through Milky Way. He also didn’t believe his show was capable of changing society and its views.
“I don’t know if anything can change with art,” he opined. “This is a tiny spark, which might either grow into a blaze, or be immediately extinguished. What we did was to light a fire in the snow, so I don’t know if there is much hope for anything to happen.”
“We are all trying for something, as human beings, not only as artists, and that which we are trying for, we translated into a series this time,” he stated. “It’s not that we hope to make society better, [but] we just happen to have a few different views, somehow more modern.”
Μάθε τα πάντα για τη μεγάλη πρεμιέρα του 'Milky Way' στο Mega! https://t.co/rwabYsvF2N
— Yupiii.gr (@YupiiiGR) November 1, 2023
What Kekatos does hope is that the stories told in Milky Way might find their way into the homes of people and be discussed.
“They might laugh; get bored; get upset; or get emotional—I wish as many viewers [as possible] get emotional,” he admits.
Mega’s Greek TV show captivating international audiences
Milky Way is the third TV show by Greek private network Mega Channel to captivate international audiences in the last two years.
In 2022, Mega Channel’s production Maestro in Blue, also executive produced by Foss Productions, became the first ever Greek television show to be picked up by Netflix.
Before that, the channel’s thirteen-part thriller Silent Road, executive produced by Filmiki Productions in 2021 and distributed by Beta Film, was broadcast on Italy’s Canale 5, Australia’s SBS, and streaming platform Topic in the US and Canada. It then additionally became available on Amazon Prime Video.
Mega Channel is the oldest private broadcaster in Greece, launched in 1989. It boasts a rich tradition in original series production and an enviable library of shows. In 2020, it re-launched under new ownership by Alter Ego Mass Media Co. S.A., which acquired the brand, its library, and respective intellectual rights in a public auction.