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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 November, 2004, 11:38 GMT
Greek films facing 'Olympic cuts'
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games cost Greece nine billion euros
Greek film-makers say they are being hurt by government cutbacks imposed after the Athens Olympics.

The country's film production fund has handed out very few grants this year. It is backed by the Culture Ministry, which funded the games.

The annual Thessaloniki film festival also saw its budget cut by 600,000 euros (418,000) to 3.6m euros (2.5m), its director Michel Demopoulos said.

The games were budgeted at 4.6bn euros, (3.2bn) but eventually cost over 9m euros (6.2bn).

The fund, called EKK, is the film industry's biggest backer.

Hari Papadopoulos, the president of Greece's Film Directors Association, said: "The EKK is an indispensable factor. There are almost no independent film production companies at all in Greece.

"Not a single financing decision has been made. Many projects are blocked."

Home-grown hits

Film-makers want the government to stick to a system where some 15 short films and 15 full-length films and up to four documentaries each year.

It was devised by actress Melina Merkouri during her period as Greece's socialist culture minister.

"The current conservative government has not yet clearly displayed its will to continue the system she put in place," he said.

The Greek film industry has boomed in recent years - with home-grown hits like Attack of the Giant Moussaka, Balkanizator, Safe Sex and A Touch Of Spice.

But Thessaloniki film festival director Michel Demopoulos said budget cuts could see the number of Greek films screened at the event drop from 18 this year to just four or five - the lowest since the early 1990s.

Greek Film Centre vice-presicent Demetri Sofianopoulos said it was true that some film projects had been postponed because of financial problems after the Olympic Games.

But he said the situation would soon ease.

"We have been promised by the minister of culture that the GFC will be financed as it should," he said.

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