International filmproduction goes onlocation in Rhodes

«I don’t understand why foreign film productions do not choose to go on location in Greece. From a geographical, technical and financial perspective, not to mention from a natural landscape point of view, you have all the necessary prerequisites to attract foreign production companies.» The above remark came from Andre Djaoui following a three-and-a-half month stay on the island of Rhodes, where the French producer followed the shooting of Elie Chouraqui’s «Beyond Friendship.» Djaoui was one of five co-producers who collaborated on the project, based on the best-selling 1972 novel of the same title by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins. Five production companies (from Britain, France, Israel, Italy and Greece), an international cast led by Patrick Bruel, Ian Holm, Tom Conti, Peter Polycarpou and Said Taghmaoui, along with extras and crew, made their base on Rhodes for 14 weeks. The bulk of the film (90 percent) was shot on the island with the remaining 10 percent filmed in Liverpool. The budget for «Beyond Friendship» reached 19 million euros. While on Greek soil, operations were orchestrated by Cinegram. At a recent press conference, Harilaos Padouvas, the Greek company’s president of the board of directors, along with producers Dionysis Samiotis and Djaoui, spoke to the press about their collaboration, while journalists were offered a first glimpse from the shooting. The film’s action takes place in 1948, focusing on the events that led up to the creation of the state of Israel and the multiple attempts made to develop Arab-Israeli relations, through a love affair and the friendship between three youths. Even though the actual story is fictional, it is based on facts – the film includes a 10-minute piece of original archive footage. We tried to strike the right balance between history, politics and the sentimental aspect,» said Djaoui. Samiotis spoke about the experience of hosting a foreign film production, extremely profitable for Greece and carried out with the help of the Ministry of Culture and local authorities. The film provided the opportunity for 3.5 million euros to be invested in Greece. All in all, there were 2,300 extras, 220 suppliers, 135 employees in various fields, 34 Greek cinema professionals and 150 foreign crew members. During the 14-week shoot, more than 650,000 euros was spent on accommodation, tourist services and the creation of a factory for the construction of the sets. In order for such a project not become an exception, what remains now is the realization of the draft bill announced by Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis during the recent Cannes Film Festival, which would include tax incentives for film industry players.

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