In March of this year (2009) when a small group of Greek filmmakers decided to take matters into their own hands to escape extinction, little did they expect to grow into a movement of more than 200! Having 23 features and 30 shorts all recently completed films, they came together and decided against participating in the annual GREEK STATE FILM AWARDS as a means of applying pressure on the Ministry of Culture to pass a long awaited and desperately needed film law. A law that would set standards, regulations, and incentives more in line with the rest of the European film community.
With this action, those who are boycotting the State Awards are also forfeiting more than 300,000 Euros in prize monies and, in some cases, the opportunity to have their films represent Greece at certain international film festivals.
Deliberations for a new film law actively began about three years ago when a committee headed by the film director Costa-Gavras was created by the Ministry of Culture to identify and propose the main points of a constructive and enforceable law. Despite the recommendations made by the committee more than a year ago, the Ministry of Culture has yet to propose a law. Realizing they cannot wait for politicians and bureaucrats to change the laws which govern how they work, FoG (Filmmakers of Greece) then set a September 1 deadline for a proposal from the Ministry. The decision to boycott this year’s Thessaloniki Film festival in November came as a result of the Ministry ignoring the deadline, dragging its feet once again and not making any effort to address the issues which concern the Greek filmmaking community.
Although as of October 3 there is a new government in power, FoG will continue its efforts until a law is passed. The members of FoG decided to organize a week of screenings in Athens from November 5-11 at the Elli Cinema in central Athens to showcase the films which are boycotting the State Awards and the Thessaloniki Film Festival. The program consists of twenty-three features, 6 documentaries, and 28 shorts. All produced in 2008-9, the program includes local and international premieres, the 2009 Un Certain Regard winner, the Locarno Best Male Actor winner, and a Berlinale Panorama participant. Director, producer and screenwriter members of FoG are volunteering their time and services to offer audiences the opportunity to see the films which will not be shown in Thessaloniki this November.