Country Focus: Greece
Arthouse stir in local cinema
by Joseph Proimakis
21/01/2009 - What has been dubbed the springtime of Greek cinema has strengthened private funding of local films and encouraged Greek distributors to take risks on local product that would have otherwise relied heavily on state distribution so as to avoid dying an unscreened, straight-to-DVD death, at best.
Costas Zapas and his new film Minor Freedoms [film focus], a Zentropa Entertainments presentation of a Minus Pictures production, seem to have been favored the most this year. With his third film, the director has secured his first local distribution deal and with one of the majors, no less – Odeon S.A..
The company ended 2008 with two of its Greek films bringing in almost half its yearly box office receipts, moreover placing second and third in the year’s overall top 10, and is regarded as probably the top distributor of commercial Greek movies. This is partly why they chose the new film by a director so far considered the maker of strictly festival fare.
Having scored so high with commercial titles, “we might as well go for the other extreme,” said Yiorgos Tziotzios, head of Odeon’s specialty division Word of Mouth.
Meanwhile, Yiannis Economidis announced the start of production on his new film, Machairovgaltis. The award-winning and consecutively commercially unsuccessful director is known for his use of foul language as an aesthetic tool to express the ugliness of his anti-heroes’ surroundings – both physical and psychological.
He is directing for Argonauts Productions, the local production powerhouse that has been delivering hit films for the past three years and saw their film Wedding Party reach third place in the 2008 Greek box office, after making it to second place with A Bee in August in 2007.