Greek Film Center freezes 15 new productions, several of which are already in the works

Just when it looked like the Greek Film Center would not be sucked into the vortex of the storms that has been sweeping the Greek film world, it was. At a meeting of the board of directors last week, Thanassis Valtinos, board president, decided to «freeze» 15 productions that had been given the go-ahead by the previous management and asked that the projects be put through a process of re-evaluation. The real problem, however, is that six of these projects are already under way – either in the pre-production or shooting phase – and putting them on hold, however temporarily, will give rise to a slew of legal, technical and ethical problems. Everyone agrees that the Greek Film Center, the main state body of funding for the Greek film industry, is in need of changes; but the question is, how many changes can be made without capsizing the boat? The tension at the meeting last week was palpable and gave rise to terse reactions from the former management and union representatives, who met on Monday morning at the Union of Greek Filmmakers and released the following announcement: «In all democratic countries, for the past 40 years at least, there has always been a continuity of institutions and the decisions made by them. The new president of the Greek Film Center, assigned by Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis, wanted to overturn this natural continuity by using unacceptable means and according to his own will. (…) Reliant on the two newly appointed members of the board (Vassilis Mazomenos and Ninos Fenek Mikelides), who had not read through the screenplays that had been approved by the previous management, he surprised the members of the board with his decision. He had never mentioned his intentions previously, not even on the agenda of the meeting, and canceled the approved productions in an undemocratic manner, even though they had been legally approved by the previous management and the approval had been announced to the filmmakers. He put himself in the position of supreme judge over other established colleagues. (…) If the Greek Film Center does not rescind its decision, we will react by rallying the industry…» In response, Valtinos argued that he was suggesting a re-evaluation of the 15 productions by a new committee that will be appointed by himself and that he is perfectly within his jurisdiction to do so. «As president [of the center], I must ensure that a new point of view prevails, a program that will improve the product produced by the center, a center that will work openly with all other reliable players in the film industry, so that we can finally emerge from the quagmire which the press has for years been blaming on the Greek Film Center.»