Reel boost for Greek filmmakers

Greek cinema, already enjoying something of a renaissance in recent months, is set for another boost, thanks to new legislation that seeks to assist small and medium-sized producers. Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos presented the draft law to the Cabinet yesterday for approval. The bill’s main aim is to provide financial incentives for private production firms, especially those making art house films, while ensuring that the state does as little as possible to stand in their way. A key feature of this new framework will be that the state will not be offering direct subsidies or funding, which is key to the government’s broader efforts to slash public spending. According to the draft law, Greek films will receive a return on the tax moviegoers pay to purchase tickets to watch the productions. This will include a scale that should result in smaller productions receiving a proportionally larger return than more popular movies. So a film that sells less than 50,000 tickets will receive a bigger chunk of the tax paid by cinemagoers than one that is more successful. TV stations, including state broadcaster ERT, will also be obliged to plow a minimum of 1.5 percent of their revenues back into movie production. The bill also envisages that the state-run Greek Film Center will become an independent body, subject to the law governing private rather than public companies, though the culture minister will retain the right to appoint its director for a three-year spell. The bill is being introduced 24 years after the first legislation, drawn up by late actress and Culture Minister Melina Mercouri, to create a framework for Greek cinema. However, it comes as the international recognition of some Greek films has given the local industry cause for hope. Giorgos Lanthimos’s «Dogtooth» won a prize at Cannes last year, while this year it has been entered in the Foreign Language Film section of the Academy Awards. Earlier this year, Ariane Labed won the Best Actress award at the Venice Film Festival for her performance in Athina Rachel Tsangari’s film «Attenberg.»

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