A Cretan village is turning into a mini Hollywood

The village of Fres, nestled between the town of Hania and Rethymnon on Crete, has become Greece’s little Hollywood. Last summer Costas Kapakas was there shooting his social comedy drama «Uranya,» while this year he is replaced by Olga Malea and the crew of «First-Time Godfather.» The locals at the main square of Fres have become veterans in all things filmmaking. When the assistants to the director or producer shout «Quiet! Rolling!» they all know that the chit-chat needs to stop, as they have become intimately acquainted with the jargon of a film set. There is one thing different about this experience, because they feel more closely connected to the movie, which is set on Crete and related to its recent history. The story is set in 1963 and in one scene being rehearsed and filmed, a young boy, Alex (representing Nikos Papandreou, son of the late prime minister Andreas), is preparing to make a speech to the mighty Manedaki and Foundedaki families, under the watchful eye of the party’s village top dog, Panagakis (played by Antonis Kafetzopoulos). The boy (played by Tex Pardiu) mumbles something incomprehensible, making the families wonder at the speech prepared by the son of the «chief» (Andreas Papandreou, wonderfully portrayed by an unrecognizable Giorgos Kimoulis), who poses in a poster behind his son. «First-Time Godfather» is a movie that marks a change of course for Malea as a filmmaker. After several romantic comedies, the director has now turned to a screenplay she wrote together with Nikos Papandreou, based on one of his own autobiographical short stories. After a long day on set, Malea explained that the focus of her new film is not political. «I don’t think of politics much, it was not one of our concerns. We are making the movie from the point of view of the child. The comedy and the situations are what is most interesting. But there is a political basis as well. Panagakis could not have existed in Greece at any other time than the summer of 1963, after the assassination of Grigoris Lambrakis.» Malea is also keeping a cool head over the mixed reviews her previous films have received. «You obviously want everyone to enjoy your films, but that’s impossible. Thankfully, there are many different points of view and quite a few people who watch them.» One of the main roles in her new film, that of Mrs Panagaki, is performed by a veteran, Eleni Kastani, who also hails from Crete and who has a perfect grasp of the accent. Malea finds her marvelous, and has taken to talking in the Cretan dialect on the set herself. «I know these women well,» said Kastani. «I see them in my mother’s old photo albums. Mrs Panagaki is married to the local party president, but she is the pillar of the family. She helps him deal with the family’s problems. She is not interested in politics. All she cares about is supporting her husband and her family.»

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.