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Greece has a long and rich cinematic history. Greek cinema is relatively successful in comparison to other EU countries and Greek Films dominate the domestic market, for example Safe Sex had more box office receipts than Titanic. Characteristics of Greek cinema include, a dynamic plot , strong character development and erotic themes. Greek cinema has produced: the first nudist scene in European cinema in 1928 , many romantic dramas / Film noir in the 1950s, and erotic comedies in the 90's and 00's .


History of the Greek cinema


In the spring of 1897, the Greeks of Athens had the opportunity and privilege to watch the first cinematic ventures (short movies in 'journal'). In 1906 Greek Cinema was born 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 theater 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 the first short comic movies were produced by director Spiros Dimitrakopoulos, who also starred in most of his movies. In 1914 the Asty Film company was formed and the production of features was made possible. Golfo (Γκόλφω), a well known traditional love story, is the first Greek movie of feature length.

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 battlefield; Burning of Smyrna (1922).

The first grand commercial success came in 1920 with Villar in the women's baths of Faliro (Ο Βιλλάρ στα γυναικεία λουτρά του Φαλήρου), written and directed by and starring comedian Villar (Nikolaos Sfakianakis) and Nitsa Philosofou. 1927 saw the beginnings of Cinema as an institution.

During 1928–1931 the company Dag-Film was successful. 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 1940-44, the most prominent films were: Voice of Heart (Η φωνή της καρδιάς) (1943, directed by D. Ioannopoulos) and Applause (Χειροκροτήματα) (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 Mercouri 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 and early 1960s are considered by many as the Greek Golden age of Cinema, and was a period of augmentation of interest and production for vernacular films which mirror modern life. Directors and actors of this era were recognized as important historical figures in greece and some gained international acclaim. M. Cacoyannis Alekos Sakelarios, Nikos Tsiforos, Ellie Lambeti, Dinos Iliopoulos, Irene Papas, etc. More than sixty films per year were made, with the majority having film noir elements . Notable films were Η κάλπικη λίρα (1955 directed by G. Tzavelas), Πικρό Ψωμί (1951 directed by G. Grigoriou), Δράκος (1956 directed by N. Koundouros), Stella (1955, directed by M. Cacoyannis and written by I. Kampanellis). M. Cacoyannis also directed Zorba the Greek with Anthony Quinn which received Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film nominations . Finos Film also contributed to this period with movies such as Λατέρνα, Φτώχεια και Φιλότιμο, Η Θεία από το Σικάγο, Το ξύλο βγήκε από τον Παράδεισο, etc.


In 1999, TV series writers Michael Reppas and Thanassis Papathanasiou, collaborating with famous actors, made the sex taboo comedy Safe Sex. It proved to be the most successful movie of the decade, and signaled a 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 .

In 2003 another big-budget Greek film named Politiki kouzina (A Touch of Spice in *English), by director Tassos Boulmetis, was the most successful film of the year at the Greek box office, making 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 Λούφα και Παραλαγή: Σειρήνες στο Αιγαίο (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 was also a successful year with El Greco, Mia melissa to Augousto and Alter Ego.

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, Constantine 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

  • Finos Films (operates own Studios)
  • Karagiannis Karatzopoulos
  • Village Films Hellas (Greek branch of Village Roadshow)
  • Cinegram
  • Odeon Hellas
  • Make a Movie in Greece - Media Productions
  • Stefi
  • CL productions
  • Audiovisual (Biggest Distributor)
  • Karamanos Studios (Biggest Studios in Greece)
  • Novak Films (operates own 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

External links

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