Country Focus: Greece
Election of new Greek Film Center head causes industry stir
by Joseph Proimakis
- The Greeks certainly know how to build up drama, as is evident from the developments surrounding the new balances being set up in the local film industry: after months of seemingly unproductive negotiations between local film professionals trying to persuade the Ministry of Culture to renew outgoing Greek Film Center (GFC) director Grigoris Karantinakis’ term, the state is preparing to step in to appoint director-elect Harris Papadopoulos, causing the Hellenic Film Academy to describe the situation as nothing short of a coup within the GFC.
After a stormy few months, Karantinakis’ term as GFC director is coming to an end with a bang, as his application for a renewal was shot down by governing-board favourite Papadopoulos, who was voted in as the new GFC director with four out of seven votes. Papadopoulos, who has served as chief of the Greek Directors’ Guild for the last 14 years, has been a wanted man within the local industry ever since he lost a huge number of his members five years ago during the Filmmakers of Greece (FoG) movement (see news).
Heads of the FoG movement had gone on to set up the Hellenic Film Academy as an independent association of active film professionals, in an effort to provide the local industry with a way out of the stagnant guild and union structures, as well as an alternative to the State Film Awards system, which was generally viewed as corrupt and insufficient. The HFA has been sounding the warning alarms since June, when previous Minister of Culture Panos Panagiotopoulos brought union heads back to the forefront by appointing the current GFC governing board (see news).
Now citing a coup within the GFC, the HFA is calling for the Ministry to dismantle the governing board and void Papadopoulos’ election as insufficient. “Papadopoulos has no international authority, nor does his professional experience thus far demonstrate a high degree of knowledge of film production to the extent stated by the position’s legal requirements,” said the HFA board in a statement released yesterday. It went on to add that “it is beyond doubt that the majority of the GFC board is acting against the Greek film community through its decisions that continually undermine the film industry”.
It should be noted that Karantinakis’ tenure was vouched for by a large group of local and international talent, including multi-awarded DoP Phedon Papamichael as well as acclaimed director and honorary HFA member Costas Gavras, in a letter sent to the current Minister of Culture, Constantinos Tassoulas; Tassoulas is in charge of validating the GFC board’s decision.