Country Focus: Greece
Hellenic Film Academy heads take stabs at Culture Ministry
by Joseph Proimakis
- “Giorgos Papalios’ (photo) resignation was a very sad day for Greek cinema” said former HFA president Tassos Boulmetis, when Wednesday’s press conference for Riding the Greek Wave turned towards current events: “Papalios put his mark on Greek cinema, and his interventions as president of the Greek Film Centre defined the industry’s course,” he went on.
“There is a great distance between the creative course of the film community and the Ministry’s political route”, said HFA president Katerina Evangelakou, referring to Papalios’ interview on The Journalists’ Newspaper, where the former GFC head revealed the Ministry’s unwillingness to answer the GFC’s pleas for help. “We’ve learned how to make films without help, now we’ll have to do it with obstacles,” she added.
Papalios explained that “for over a year they didn’t bother to appoint replacements” after the resignation of two GFC board members over a year ago, thus placing a deadlock on the GFC’s decision making processes. Boulmetis notes that “[lack of replacements] are clearly a political choice.”
Discussing his relationship with newly anointed Minister of Culture Panos Panagiotopoulos, Papalios said “he hadn’t met with us for three months and when the awards started coming in from Venice, he came out promising new ways of funding. Are they in disagreement with the GFC’s funding choices?”
The final straw was drawn when a call from the Minister’s office urged Papalios to push a specific film. “I found it immensely insulting”, Papalios recounts: “For seven years no minister ever asked for a favour, there are strict procedures the GFC follows”, he says, and though he refused to disclose who the Minister’s protégée was, the paper notes God Loves Caviar director Yiannis Smaragdis as the name on every insider’s lips.
Smaragdis is currently considered a front-runner for Papalios’ empty seat.