Culture Ministry dismantles the Greek Film Center
by Joseph Proimakis
- Less than a year after its appointment, the majority of the GFC’s Governing Committee is being removed, while the Deputy Culture Minister calls for a new general director
In an unexpected turn of events, the Greek Film Center’s Governing Committee (GC) has been dismantled by decree of Deputy Culture Minister Aristides Baltas, who has replaced six of the seven members and is requesting the new GC to move on with appointing a new general director.
The development was announced via a press statement by the Ministry, where allegations of mismanagement, financial irregularities and abuse of power are being mentioned as the causes behind this abrupt decision. It should be noted that the now outgoing GC was only appointed in February 2015 (not without its share of controversy – see the news) by Baltas’ predecessor, Nikos Xydakis, who was at the time acting under the supervision of current Deputy Culture Minister Baltas, then Minister of Culture and Education.
Caught off guard, current GC president Alexis Grivas (a long-time advisor to the Berlinale and Guadalajara Film Festivals as well as a Screen International correspondent) responded with an open letter denouncing all of the allegations: “Not only do [these allegations] not correspond to reality, but they have been dutifully explained to the Minister in writing, shortly after our meeting with him,” notes Grivas.
Responding to the Ministry’s claims of administrative negligence, Grivas counterattacks by revealing, “It was the Ministry that obliged us to stop the ongoing procedure of anointing a Hellenic Film Commission director, although it had been jointly agreed for us to proceed with filling the seat.”
Shortly afterwards, outgoing general director Grigoris Karantinakis followed suit by sending out his own open letter, where he openly accuses the Ministry of using “lies and half truths” in its press release. After denying allegations of financial misconduct on his part, Karantinakis goes on to directly link his dismissal with his vociferous support of recently dismissed National Theatre director Dimitris Loukos, whose removal a few weeks ago was also shrouded in allegations of financial irregularities.
Though the drama is guaranteed to be continued, the new GFC Governing Committee seats will be filled by producer Jan Rofekamp, director Elissavet Chronopoulou, economist Dimitris Papaioannou, director Athanassios Skroubelos and producer Timon Koulmasis. Film critic and former GC member Kostas Terzis has been promoted to vice-president, and the GC will be presided over by University of Athens Theatre Studies professor Ioannis Leontaris.
It is unclear whether the validity of the outgoing GC’s recent financing announcements (see the news) will be acknowledged by the new members.