Cinema –especially in Greece– is multidimensional, both as term and as a reality.

 

Initially, it was seen by the state as an “industrial product”. The jurisdictions for the protection and reinforcement of the cinematic art belonged to the Ministry of Industry, which had already established, since 1961, a special law that included certain motives for the development of the infrastructure of cinema. In that period, going to the movies was the main means of entertainment for the broader public. The annual production was high and most of the movies produced, covered their production cost by the ticket sales.

 

Nevertheless, by the mid-seventies, the symptoms of a great economic crisis began to appear in Greek cinema, mainly because of the coming of television in Greece. This crisis resulted in the dramatic drop of ticket sales, the closure of many movie theatres, the freezing of investments, the inability to pay movie production costs and, gradually, the dismantling of the economic structure of Greek cinema. By that time, it was obvious that Greek cinema could not survive without the state’s intervention and the establishment of substantial measures from the part of the State.

 

The Greek Film Centre, as a legal entity, existed before the crisis, by another name. It had been established in 1970, under the name “General Film Investments”, as a subsidiary production company of a state bank, the Greek Industrial Development Bank. This happened in the context of the perception that prevailed at that time, regarding the industrial “dimension” of cinema, that produced limited activities, during the Junta of 1967-1974.

 

After the reinstatement of Democracy, acclaimed author and director, Giorgos Tzavellas was made President of the entity, and, by inviting younger creators, he proceeded to the production of a series of ambitious films, funded exclusively by the organization, which, during his presidency was renamed to Greek Film Centre (GFC).

 

In 1980, after filmmakers pressured the Government at that time, the jurisdictions for cinema pass from the Ministry of Industry to the Ministry of Culture. This change indicates a new perception of the State, that from now adopts the view that the cultural dimension of cinema is more important compared to the economic dimension of the cinematic product. During the ministry of Andreas Andrianopoulos, the state gives the first funding to the GFC, while journalist Vassos Vassilieiou is appointed as the President of the Centre. Vassileiou was a former Minister of Culture in the first government after the Junta, and he begins to orientate the Organization according to the new perceptions regarding its mission.

 

In 1981, after the change of government, the Ministry of Culture is headed by a cinema person, the actress Melina Merkouri, who makes the support of Greek cinema a priority of her policy. In the same year, she designates writer and critic Pavlos Zannas as President of the GFC, while in 1982 she draws up and supports with passion the bill “for the protection and development of the art of film and the support of Greek Cinema”, that finally becomes a law of the state in 1986. With this law (N. 1597/86), that regulates its structure, jurisdictions and function, the GFC preserves the legal form of an anonymous company but is rendered fully to the State and becomes the most principal exercise lever of cinematic policy.

 

The crisis of Greek cinema, that was already in progress by the mid-seventies and was at its peak around 1985, as well as the sub-operation, due to lack of sufficient resources, of some development “tools” that the Law N. 1597/86 anticipated, made the GFC –for several years– the unique funding source of the local production, confining its regulative role. Nevertheless, the GFC managed to overcome this difficult situation and to decisively contribute to the survival of Greek cinema, by supporting the diffusion of Greek films in movie theatres, co-funding the Greek film festivals and by being present in the film markets. Under those circumstances, the GFC preserved as its further goal the international recognition of Greek filmmaking.

 

In the beginning of the ‘90s, we can see a gradual improvement of the circumstances. In the year 2000, a research of the National Centre of Social Research mentions, “The local production is making its first systematic openings in Europe and international co-production, while the institution of the private producer appears growing continuously stronger. From the beginning of 1990, municipal movie theatres are created (they are more than 80 all over the country’s region), and cinema networks, both local and international, make their appearance, aiming to support Greek and European production. The movie theatres in Athens are renovated and equipped with the most developed sound and image systems, while at the same time, new movie theatres are constructed all over the country. The European and American phenomenon of Cineplex appears in Greece as well”.

 

The GFC orients in the new “landscape” that tends to form, a landscape that cannot guarantee the radical treatment of the causes of the former crisis, but nonetheless creates action and optimism. By establishing the Program “New Look”, which was exclusively addressed to young filmmakers, and by elaborating, approving and applying its new Regulation of Funding Programs, in 1996 the GFC widens its policy goals, establishes a new system of funding and puts the whole movie production procedure on a new basis, by phrasing a wider framework of principles and rules, which formulates the production of Greek films until today.

 

With the voting, during the ministry of Evangelos Venizelos, of Law N. 2557/97, that anticipated the publication of a Presidential Decree regarding the amendment of the GFC Statutes, the institutional change in the operational way of the Centre was an expected fact. The intention of the Ministry of Culture regarding this legislative intervention was already known since the summer of 1997, and resulted in the Presidential Decree 113/98 “Statutes of the Greek Film Centre” –a legislative text that sprang from the general request for institutional changes in the cinematic field. In the following years, there was a systematic effort of profiting from the possibilities given by the aforementioned Decree, in a climate of contained optimism that was formed by the continuous return of audiences to movie theatres, the hopeful appearance of new filmmakers in the spotlight, the activation of new as well as older professional producers, the stable funding of Greek films by the Greek Public Television (ERT), as well as some occasional funding received by private TV networks, and, finally, the establishment of a common “line” by the distribution companies.

 

During the following period, the GFC inaugurates a policy that looks for a new kind of balance between the creative and the developing dimension of Greek cinema. The GFC enacts motives for widening the participation of the private sector in film production, inaugurates a stable collaboration with the Greek Public Television (ERT), regarding the co-funding of feature film and documentary feature productions of new filmmakers, forms a new Funding Regulation that includes eight (8) Programs, while it leads the way for creating a network of cooperation of Film Centres in the countries of Southeastern Europe.

 

Under the successive Presidency of Pavlos Zannas (till 1986), directors Manos Zacharias (1986-1989), Errikos Andreou (1989-1991), Costas Vrettakos (1991-1998), Manos Efstratiadis (1998-2001), Diagoras Chronopoulos (2001-2005), Thanassis Valtinos (2005-2006), Giorgos Papalios (2006-2013), Tony Lykouressis (2013-2014), the author and screenwriter Petros Makaris (2014-2015), the director of cinematography Alexis Grivas (2015-2016), the Substitute Professor of the Theatrical Studies Department of the University of Peloponnese, Ioannis Leontaris (2016 - 2017) and Dimitris Papaioannou (2017 - today), the GFC to this day continues its efforts for developing the production and promotion of Greek film, by pursuing that Greek filmmaking goes along with the international ones.

 

Today the GFC operates based on the Law N. 3905/210 (GGHR 219/Α/23-12-2010), regarding the “Support and Development of Cinematographic Art and other provisions”, under a new legal form as a public benefit non-profit legal entity, established under private law, which is supervised by the Minister of Culture (instead of its former form as an anonymous company that operated according to the provisions of the articles 16-26 of Law N. 1597/1986 - GGHR 68 Α΄and the P.D. 113/1998 - GGHR 113 Α΄).

 

The new Law N. 3905/2010 defines the principles of the national policy in the field of cinema and puts a new institutional frame, taking in mind the developments that have taken place in the audiovisual sector in the last 15 years. It aims to the substantial development of Cinema in Greece, by increasing the financial sums that are available for producing films, developing resources, redistributing funding, improving the transparency and accountability of the Organizations and confronting bureaucracy, and promoting the participation of providers of audiovisual means and telecommunications in moviemaking, as well as attracting foreign producers.

 

The basic innovation of the new Law is the appointment of General Director to the GFC, who, along with the Board of Directors that consists of 7 members, are the administrative organs of the GFC. Based on this Law, the first General Director of GFC is the film director Mr. Grigoris Karantinakis (2011-2015, 2015-2016), to be followed by the film editor and film theorist, Mrs. Electra Venaki. (2016 - today).

 

Furthermore, since February 2013, the existing Regulation of Funding Programs of the GFC, and evolution of the former one was put in effect. It includes ten (10) Funding Programs that were composed according to the international standards and aim to fulfil the multiple modern needs of film production. The new Regulation of the GFC, whenever the changing circumstances need so, is submitted to the necessary reformulations and changes, to fulfil more effectively its institutional purposes.

 

Regarding the film production, the GFC participates annually in funding part of the production cost of an average of 15 feature films, 15 short films, 6 documentary features, and contributes small amounts to funding of 15-20 completed films of the independent production in these three film categories.

 

Having succeeded to keep its operational expenses to a low level, the GFC disposes the largest part of its budged to enforcing film production (about 60% of the films produced in the country), focusing on the support of new filmmakers. In its approved funding, though, a prestigious place continues to be held for films of acclaimed filmmakers, that have a remarkable cinematic work to their credit.

 

The catalogue of productions realized with the participation, the funding or the support of the GFC, from its establishment till today, includes more than 700 films –about 400 of them have received awards in Greek and International Film Festivals.

 

Today, the GFC tries to worthy respond to its multidimensional role, by pursuing:

 

• The reinforcement and development of Greek film production / promotion / distribution and of the cinematic art in general
• The reconstruction of Greek cinematographic art
• The attraction of private investments and the encouragement of investing activities in the field of cinema
• The continuous increase of the number of spectators going to movie theatres
• The protection and promotion of the Greek film legacy
• The increase of extroversion in film production
• The development of film education in Greece

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