6 Greek Films to Keep
an Eye Out For

By Orestes Kouzof

What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you hear ‘Greece’? It may be azure seas, sandy beaches and ouzo-fuelled nights at beach bars, or it may be magnificent ancient structures that have withstood the test of time with as much elegance as stubbornness. In light of recent events, it may even be economic depression, social unrest and political instability. What certainly doesn’t pop into peoples’ minds is ‘Cinema’. And yet Greece is home to a new school of Filmmakers, Writers and Directors who create masterpieces of Movie and TV, which go widely underappreciated by Greeks and the rest of the world alike. Here are some of the best Greek Cinema productions (and TV production!) for your perusal:

1) Fovou tous Ellines (Beware of Greeks bearing Guns) (1999)

Write and Sell the Hot ScriptAn all-time favourite. Starring comedian, satirist and writer Lakis Lazopoulos, the film tells the story of two brothers: one young, overly masculine (and slightly mad), and one older and dedicated to teaching and the ‘soft’ life. The older brother must carry out a family vendetta and kill his sworn enemy, but would rather find the love of his life, while trying to prevent his insane brother and their elderly Greek friends from shooting anyone. A hilarious comedy set in Melbourne and Crete, Fovou tous Ellines showcases Greek talent on all levels, from the writers to actors.

2) Safe Sex (1999)

Bearing the tagline ‘For a society that does it, but doesn’t enjoy it’, Safe Sex is a satirical romp through the streets of modern-day Athens, likening the relationships between the characters to the many social and political problems evident in modern Grecian society. A hallmark film, Safe Sex paved the way for the reprisal of the ‘Golden Age’ of Greek Cinema, ushering in a new era of comedic satires which have been unprecedented hits in the box office. 

3) Politiki Kouzina (A Touch of Spice) (2003)

The heart-warming story of a little boy deported from Istanbul in the 1960s, always yearning to return. Politiki Kouzina is an example of sublime writing and storytelling, and an absolutely beautiful film to behold. Cinematographer Takis Zervoulakos conveys the busy and colourful streets of 1960s Istanbul in sepia tones punctuated by bright colour, and you can practically smell the spices that adorn Vassilis’ shop.

4) Nyfes (Brides) (2004)

Starring Damian Lewis and with Executive Producer Martin Scorcese, Nyfes is the story of Niki, one of 700 mail-order brides on the SS King Alexander, crossing the Atlantic on its way to America. Niki falls in love with a photographer nursing a failing marriage, and a deeply emotional drama unfolds. Nyfes is an insightful and touching exploration of real and forced love, as well as a very frank analysis of a dark time in Greece’s history – a time that modern Greek nationalism tries to make us forget.

5) Loufa kai Paralagi: Sirines sto Aigeo (Loafing and Camouflage: Sirens in the Aegean) (2006)

A comedy set in the modern Greek army amongst the discontented young men drafted into it, Loufa kai Paralagi rails against the inadequacies of the powers that be, but also satirises the stereotypical Greek citizen, sending a very strong message for social and political change through hilarious situational and slapstick comedy. Loufa kai Paralagi finds a way to take some of the most pressing issues facing Greece today – the draft, fears of Turkey, ignorance and corruption all through the political hierarchy – and makes brings the to the forefront of our attention in the most uplifting way.

6) To Nisi (The Island) (2010) 

Based on Victoria Hislop’s homonymous novel, To Nisi is a television series that burst on Greek television screens to record ratings, telling the story of the inhabitants of one of the last Leper colonies in the world. To Nisi looks at a piece of Greece’s history that is shameful, a part that most politicians  and nationalists would like to keep in the dark. This is the new-found strength of Greek cinema and TV: a disregard for the nationalism of old and a turn to cutting satire. Amidst the growing discontent towards the Government, the Greek arts churn out beautiful pieces of satirical writing, both meaningful and entertaining.

These films show a new Greece emerging from the corruption and economic nightmare of the 20th and 21st Centuries. They show a Greece full of a younger generation of artists and audiences, a generation willing to laugh at itself for the inadequacies of the past and make serious changes for the future. Will this show through in Greek society and politics as time progresses? I hope so. Perhaps a more pressing question is ‘will there still be a Greek cinema when the dust settles?’ Who knows. But if there is, I think we can look forward to some absolutely stunning films coming out of there in the future. 

Your Comments Please

Dear Sirs
 
I am writing in protest of the ridiculous article you published about Greek cinema. Major recent Greek films whose artistic merit has been recognized internationally have been omitted, while execrable examples of local commercial trash are touted as "films to watch out for". This is a gross mis-representation of contemporary Greek cinema, and it is such a huge distortion that it borders on sabotage. You have a duty to redress this incident of , otherwise your site has lost all credibility for anybody with even the slightest knowledge about Greek cinema.
 
Just a few of excellent Greek movies that have been omitted: "Dogtooth", "Alps", "Strella", "Oxygen", "Matchbox", "Real Life" amongst many others. The list you have published is laughable, if not excruciatingly embarassing.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Panagiotis Chatzistefanou

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About The Author

Orestes Kouzof Orestes Daniel Kouzof was born and raised in Athens, Greece, where he took the International Baccalaureate and scored among the top 10% of students worldwide. In 2009 he came to England to study Drama at the University of East Anglia, after which he will be unemployed forever.  He claims to primarily be an ‘actor’, although in reality he invests in all areas of Theatrical production, from Stage Managing to Scriptwriting. Orestes also has a large reserve of Technical Theatre experience, having worked extensively at the UEA studio, the Norwich Puppet Theatre and the Norwich Playhouse. His aspirations are (surprisingly) to work in the Theatre and to learn how to do a backflip on skis. Neither has been realized to date.

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6 Greek Films to Keep An Eye Out For