Greece and Serbia sign agreement to develop audience culture
by Vassilis Economou
- The Greek and Serbian film centres have signed a mutual support agreement in the field of distribution, aiming to bring the cinema of each country into the limelight
With the ultimate goal of strengthening the collaboration between Serbia and Greece, a new cooperative business agreement focusing on distribution was recently signed on the premises of the 23rd Sarajevo Film Festival.
It has been over 20 years since the last collaboration between Serbia and Greece at the co-production level, with Srđan Dragojević’s Pretty Village, Pretty Flame (1996) and The Wounds (1998) probably being the most recent examples. Now the film centres of both countries, which admittedly do have a fairly close relationship, are trying to collaborate further in a greater variety of film fields. This has already begun with the co-financing of Nikos Labôt’s debut feature, Her Job, which took part in the First Films First development programme, and is being co-produced by Maria Drandaki of Greek outfit Homemade Films, Milan Stojanović of Serbia’s Sense Production and French company Sister Productions (see the news). Furthermore, more Serbian film projects with a Greek minority co-producer are expected to apply for the Greek Film Centre’s next round of pre-approvals.
In that same collaborative spirit, the director of the Greek Film Centre, Electra Venaki, and the head of the Film Center Serbia, Boban Jevtić, have signed an agreement that will support local distributors in each country as they promote productions from the other nation. The agreement includes a number of incentives, as each centre will cover the translation, subtitling and (partial) promotional expenses of each local distributor that decides to bring a film produced by the other country to the market. The condition set up by the deal is that for each film, over 20 screenings should be offered to the audience. Furthermore, the aim is to decentralise those screenings and not limit them only to the capital cities of Athens and Belgrade. Ideally, this collaboration will create a unique network that will extend to every country, and which will also boost further mutual cultural exchange.
Venaki remarked: “We have already started with our co-productions, but we must focus on audience development – otherwise it is futile. We are not screening Serbian films in Greece, and the same thing is happening with Greek films in Serbia. So by offering these services, we hope that we will encourage the distributors, and we will see later what the directors and producers will ask for. This feedback is very important for our further expansion.”
“This is an experiment, but we hope it will bear some fruit,” Jevtić added. “Certainly, this is only the first step, and as we further discuss these matters between us, our target is to expand this initiative to other countries, starting with fellow members of the SEE Cinema Network, which both Serbia and Greece participate in. At this moment, we are the pioneers.”
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