Cinema of Greece  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

(Redirected from Greek cinema)
Jump to: navigation, search

Related e

Wiki Commons

Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Greece has a long and rich cinematic history. The country that gave rise to Western civilisation has produced many famous film actors and directors.


History of the Greek cinema

The early days

In the spring of 1897, the Greeks of Athens had the opportunity and privilege to watch the first cinematic attempts (short movies in 'journal'). The projection of an animated movie resulted in excited reactions and the new-seen spectacle became a usual matter of discussion. 1906 was the birth year of the Greek Cinema when brothers John and Miltiades Manakia started recording in Macedonia, and the French filmmaker Leons produced the first 'Newscast' from the midi-Olympic games of Athens (the unofficial Olympic games of 1906).

The first theatre of Athens opened about a year later and other special 'projection rooms' begun their activity and gathered a large mass of excited viewers. 1910-11 were the years of the first comic short movies produced by director Spiros Dimitrakopoulos, who also starred in most of his movies. In 1914 the Asty Film company was founded and the production of long films begun. Golfo (Template:Lang), a well known traditional love story, is the first Greek long movie.

During the First World War, production was limited to documentaries and newscasts only. Directors like George Prokopiou and Dimitris Gaziadis are distinguished for filming scenes from the war lines and the Burning of Smyrna (1922).

The first grand commercial success came in 1920 with Villar in the women's baths of Faliro (Template:Lang), written and directed by and starring comedian Villar (Nikolaos Sfakianakis). 1927 was the end of the 'primitive' Greek cinema and the beginning of a serious organization.

During 1928–1931 the company Dag-Film sees its more productive days, although being around since 1918. The company mainly produced historical movies, usually adaptations of novels. Most distinct are Δάφνις και Χλόη (1931 directed by Orestes Laskos), Έρως και κύματα (1928 directed by D. Gaziadis). Δάφνις και Χλόη contained the first nude scene in the history of European cinema.

In 1932 the first speaking movie is made by Olympic film, Αγαπητικός της Βοσκοπούλας, directed by D. Tsakiris. Οι Απάχηδες των Αθηνών is one of the most famous early movies, the sound of which is played by a gramophone behind the screen.

Philopemen Finos appeared actively in the production, and was a co-founder of Greek Cinematic Studios (1939). During World War II, Finos founded Finos Films (1942), a company that sealed the fate of commercial Greek cinema. During 1940-41, the most prominent films were: Voice of Heart (Template:Lang) (1943, directed by D. Ioannopoulos) and Applause (Template:Lang) (1944, directed by G. Tzavelas). In 1944 Katina Paxinou was honoured with the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for For Whom the Bell Tolls. Melina Merkouri became well-known to international audiences when she starred in the 1960 film Never on Sunday, directed by Jules Dassin. (The couple collaborated on its 1967 musical stage adaptation, Illya Darling, for which she received a Tony Award nomination, as well.) Nominated for an Academy Award for Never on Sunday, she went on to star in such films as Topkapi, Phaedra, and Gaily, Gaily.

The Golden Age

The 1950s was a period of augmentation of interest and production for vernacular films which are mirrors of modern life. New directors and actors appear who eventually were recognized as historical figures like Alekos Sakelarios, Nikos Tsiforos, Ellie Lambeti, Dinos Iliopoulos, Irene Papas, etc. More than 60 films per year are out. The largest part of them were melodramas and commercial spy adventures. Notable films were Template:Lang (1955 directed by G. Tzavelas), Template:Lang (1951 directed by G. Grigoriou), Template:Lang (1956 directed by N. Koundouros), Stella (1955, directed by M. Cacoyannis and written by I. Kampanellis). Finos Film marked also this period with movies such as Template:Lang, Template:Lang, Template:Lang, Template:Lang, etc.

Modern period and state-funded cinema

The production of Greek films increased after the fall of the dictatorship in the mid-1970s, though the industry struggled with foreign competition and the rise of television. Michael Cacoyannis' 1977 film, Iphigenia, was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. During the 1970s and 1980s Theo Angelopoulos directed a series of critically acclaimed movies, among them The Travelling Players (1975), The Hunters (1977), and Voyage to Cythera (1984). His film Eternity and a Day won the Palme d'Or and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival. Costa-Gavras's film Missing won the Palme d'Or at 1982 Cannes Film Festival. Director Costas Ferris's 1983 film, Rembetiko, won the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival.

When the left-leaning Panhellenic Socialist Movement was elected to power in 1981, actress Melina Mercouri, a member of the party, was appointed Minister for Culture. In this role, she obtained government support for the Greek film industry, and set up networks to promote Greek cinema abroad. The increase in government funding led to a predominance of slow-moving, cerebral art-house films, which lacked mass appeal.

Beginning in the 1990s, younger directors turned to more contemporary-paced films and social satires, which brought moderate commercial success. In 1999, TV series writers Michalis Reppas and Thanasis Papathanasiou, collaborating with contemporary famous actors made the sex taboo comedy Safe Sex, which was the most successful movie of the decade.

In 1998, with Money, A Mythology of Darkness, Vassilis Mazomenos created the first European feature 3D animation film, a visual essay on the impact of money on humanity. The film has been acclaimed in both Greece and abroad, nominated for the European Fantasy Award (George Melies award) in 1999 and won the same year the jury's special award in Fantasporto. Known for his artistic experimentation and influences from early German expressionism, Mazomenos later developed a different narrative with his movies Guilt (2009) and 10th Day (2012). His latest film Lines (2016) focusing on seven individuals suffering in the economic crisis that has devastated Greece, earned critical and festival acclaim.

In 2003, A Touch of Spice (Politiki kouzina), a big-budget film by director Tasos Boulmetis, was the most successful film of the year at the Greek box office, making over 12 million euros. 2004 was also a good year for Greek films, with Pantelis Voulgaris's Brides (Nyfes) gathering more than a million spectators and over 7 million at the box office. In 2007 the most successful film was El Greco, directed by Yannis Smaragdis.

In 2009, Dogtooth, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, won the Prix Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival, and in 2011 was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards. The 2010 film Attenberg, directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari, won the Coppa Volpi Award for Best Actress (Ariane Labed) at the Venice Film Festival. In 2011 Alps won the Osella Award for Best Screenplay (Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimiοs Filippou) at the 68th Venice Film Festival. Dogtooth, Attenberg and Alps are part of what some film critics, including Steve Rose of The Guardian, have termed the "Greek Weird Wave," which involves movies with haunting cinematography, alienated protagonists and absurdist dialogue. Other films mentioned as part of this "wave" include Panos H. Koutras's Strella (2009) and Yannis Economides's Knifer (2010).

In 2011, just twenty feature-films were produced.

In 2013, Miss Violence, directed by Alexandros Arvanas won Silver Lion for best director at the 70th Venice International Film Festival. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian, compared the film to the previously mentioned, saying that "It (self-evidently) does not have the humour of those movies by Yorgos Lanthimos and Athina Rachel Tsangari and by that token, less of their richness and inventiveness. But its force can't be doubted."


In 1999, TV series writers Michael Reppas and Thanassis Papathanasiou, cooperating with famous actors, made the sex taboo comedy Safe Sex. It was proved to be the most successful movie of the later years, and signaled the return of the Golden Age of Greek cinema.

In 2001 the writers returned with To klama vgike apo ton paradeiso (a pun of the title To xylo vgike apo ton paradeiso), which is a parody of the old Finos Films movies, satirizing their clichés and the elements that made them distinct.

In 2003 another big-budget Greek film named Politiki kouzina (A Touch of Spice in *English), by director Tassos Boulmetis, was the success of the year at the Greek box office, one of the few Greek films that made over 12 million euros. 2004 was a good year to for Greek films with Nyfes gathering more than a million spectators, and over 7 million in box office. 2006 was also a very good year for Greek films, especially for the film Template:Lang (Loafing) and Camouflage: Sirens in the Aegean, that gathered more than 700,000 spectators and about over 5 million € in Box Office. There were more successful Greek films in the late period, such as Loukoumades me Meli and H Chorodia toy Charitonos both made over 100,000 admissions. 2006 was a generally a good year for the Greek cinema with the comedy films Straight Story and 5 Lepta akoma marking the years Box Office also another Greek movie Uranya was notable and quiet successful in homeland. 2007 is also good as the year before with movies as El Greco, Mia melissa to Augousto and Alter Ego being the Greek hit-films of the year till now.

Notable Greek movies in the New Era.

  • 1999 Safe Sex, Michalis Reppas - Thanassis Papathanasiou
  • 2000 Risoto, Olga Malea
  • 2001 To klama vgike apo ton paradeiso, Michalis Reppas - Thanassis Papathanasiou
  • 2002 Dekapentaugoustos, Konstantinos Giannaris
  • 2003 Politiki Kouzina, Tassos Boulmetis
  • 2004 Nyfes, Pantelis Voulgaris
  • 2004 Hardcore, Denis Iliadis
  • 2005 Loufa kai paralagh: Seirines sto Agaio, Nikos Perakis
  • 2005 Loukoumades me Meli, Olga Malea
  • 2005 H chorodia tou Charitona, Grigoris Karantinakis
  • 2006 5 Lepta akoma, Giannis Xanthopoulos
  • 2006 Straight Story, Kostas Kapakas
  • 2007 Mia Melissa to Augousto, Thodoris Atheridis
  • 2007 Alter Ego, Nikos Dimitropoulos
  • 2007 El Greco, Yannis Smaragdis
  • 2007 Gia Proti Fora Nonos, Olga Malea

Filming, distribution companies and studios

Renowned figures




Directors of Photography


  • Dimitris Koliodimos, The Greek filmography, 1914 through 1996, Jefferson, N.C. [u.a.] : McFarland, 1999, 773p.
  • Journal of Modern Greek Studies 18.1, May 2000, Special Issue: Greek Film

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Cinema of Greece" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools