Greek Documentary Association. Chef Marianna Economou on the growth of the local industry

As the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival Filmmaker and President of the Greek Documentary Association (GDA) Marianna Economou highlights the great strides made by the local industry in recent years, while adding that additional support is needed to support its growth and development.

As the head of the GDA, Economou oversees an organization founded in 2013 with the aim of “supporting Greek creative documentary as a distinct cinematic genre in Greece and work for its international recognition and promotion, ”she said.

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The industry’s production continues to grow, as evidenced this week in Thessaloniki, where the 23rd edition of the festival featured 72 Greek short and feature documentaries.

But the funding of documentaries in Greece remains an uphill battle, with the Greek Film Center and the public broadcaster ERT being the de facto sources of all local funding. “It is extremely difficult to produce a film on the basis of Greek funding alone, and even if there is a foreign co-producer involved, there is not the necessary support from Greek broadcasters,” Economou explains. “Most filmmakers largely self-finance their films, and without their passion and determination, few documentaries would be produced in Greece.

Economou describes the creation of the National Center for Audiovisual Media and Communication (EKOME) as an “important initiative” to support the film and television industry at large, but the government body – which manages the rehabilitation program. Greece’s cash, among other functions – “hasn’t benefited many docs so far. The Greek Film Center has also been a big champion of the industry, but its efforts are often thwarted by changes of government and budget deficits.

“Our budgets are derisory compared to equivalent European productions,” says Economou. “It’s really amazing to see how not only do we continue to make documentaries, but how more and more Greek documentaries are bought by broadcasters like ARTE, are screened at major festivals around the world and are happening. International fame.” This includes films such as Apostolos Karakasis’ IDFA player “Next Stop: Utopia,” “The New Plastic Road,” by director duo Myrto Papadopoulos and Angelos Tsaousis, which screened at Hot Docs, and “When Tomatoes Met Wagner “from Economou, who performed at the Sarajevo Film Festival.

Greek filmmakers are also fortunate to have one of the world’s premier documentary film showcases in their quaint second city. “The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival has played a major role in ‘educating’ Greek filmmakers about what a creative documentary is, and also in changing the public’s preconception that documentaries are largely boring and informative report-type films for television, ”Economou explains.

“Over the years, the festival has proven to be the most serious and important event in Greece which inspires, educates, promotes and supports documentaries. This introduced us to a wide range of cinematic subjects, forms and languages, ”she continues, adding that as a filmmaker, she“ owes everything ”to the festival. “It was the best school I could have had. It opened my eyes and ears and showed me a world of different dimensions, expressions and possibilities.

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