Confusing season for Greek cinema as some films shot for the stars and others stayed on the shelf

A look at the trends along which Greek cinema moved in mainstream theaters this past year reveals some diverse patterns and fluctuations. On the one hand, we see the box-office smash hit «A Touch of Spice» which cut almost 1.3 million tickets, and on the other, we see almost all others; with few exceptions these are domestically produced films generating from 5,000 down to just 800 ticket sales. The film season essentially began on October 24, 2003, with Tassos Boulmetis’s tale of the gastronomic memories of a Greek boy growing up in Istanbul coming out with a bang and with promise of an even more successful future (even after the first three days of screenings), which eventually skyrocketed to record-breaking levels. At the same time, a completely different film, Stamatis Tsarouhas’s satirical «The Valiant of Samothrace,» tallied up 100,000 tickets. The early signs of the season, therefore, were unexpectedly optimistic, creating a sense of euphoria for the future of Greek cinema which seems to have gripped even then-Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos who, at November’s Thessaloniki Film Festival awards ceremony, boasted: «This year, I believe Greek films will cut over 15 times more tickets than they did last year.» Then came the winter and a long, cold winter it was, too, for the domestic film industry. Even productions that were well-received by critics and had been given kudos at the Thessaloniki Film Festival (such as Elissavet Hronopoulou’s «A Song is Not Enough») had a lackluster reception from the broad public. It appears, therefore, that we are back to believing that the Greek public has something of an «odd» relationship with its own cinema; one mostly marked by skepticism and indifference. As cinemas are now preparing to wrap up the film season before the summer, Kathimerini takes overall count of the 2003-2004 season.

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