Thessaloniki International Film Festival president TheoAngelopoulos and artistic director Michel Demopoulos have been removed fromtheir posts.

The move follows a series of sweeping changes to state subsidisedfilm institutions announced today by The Greek Ministry of Culture. Withinfilm circles, the move is regarded as political one that comes just over a year after the election of a new Conservative government.

At a press conference today, the Greek deputy Culture Minister said thatDemopoulos had been a successful director, but that new blood was needed atthe festival.

Pandelis Voulgaris, director of local box office hit TheBrides, is to replace Angelopoulos, while Despina Mouzaki replaces MichelDemopoulos. Mouzaki runs production and services outlet Cinegram and is a pastdeputy president of the Greek Film Centre . Films she has recently producedinclude Brides and box office sensation Touch Of Spice.

The appointment of Mouzaki has raised concerns amongvarious circles about whether her producer activities will clash with her postat the festival.

Other changes at the festival include the creation of acompetition section for local films alongside the existing one reserved toforeign features.

The Ministry of Culture also announced the replacement oftheatre director Diagoras Chronopoulos asPresident and CEO of the Greek Film Centre (GFC) by writer ThanasisValtinos.

Other new initiatives by the minister include thecreation of an eleven member National Cinema Council to steer state film policyas well as the launch of a new Film Commission to lure foreign shoots to thecountry. Greece hosted a considerable number of foreign productions in thesixties and seventies.

The Ministry also said that it intended to introduce tax shelters for local and foreign productions.

Finally film-maker Antonis Papadopoulos, head of the successful International Short Film Festival of the city of Drama, has been named to the post of the minister's Cinema Councillor.