Filmmakers threaten to boycott State Awards
by Joseph Proimakis
06/05/2009 - In an unexpected effort to stir the stagnant waters of the long overdue change in Greek film legislation, a group of 33 directors and nine producers, representing almost the entirety of this year’s Greek film production, issued a statement threatening to boycott the State Film Awards unless the Ministry of Culture presents the much-awaited new bill to Parliament for adoption.
Citing repeated “voices of protest denouncing these awards as unmerited, deficient and invalid”, the rogue group of filmmakers is set to “abstain from the evaluation process, and not submit [their] films to the Ministry of Culture’s committee”.
The group, whose signatories include acclaimed auteur Theodoros Angelopoulos and Yiorgos Lanthimos, who will soon represent Greece at Cannes with Dogtooth [trailer, film focus], is calling for the Ministry to “immediately present the Greek Parliament with the new bill, that shall institute all stages of production as well as the way the State Awards are awarded”.
The group’s motion is an effort to manipulate the Ministry into presenting a new bill, which has been awaited since it was first drafted in late 2007.
A committee led by renowned director Costa Gavras tried to tackle issues troubling the local film community for years, such as state funds management, tax returns, State Award eligibility specifications and the major issue of the 1.5% of private broadcasters’ profits that is required by law to be invested in film production but which no official entity dares collect.
The bill was to be presented in late 2008 or early 2009 but the upheaval caused by the Greek riots in December led to a cabinet shuffle in January 2009, which saw a change in the Minister of Culture, among other ministers. The new leadership at the ministry is said to be in the process of re-evaluating the bill.