It was the subject matter of Eden Is West that lured Costa Gavras back to Greece. A drama about the impact of illegal immigration on Western Europe, the film is a road movie of sorts, starring Italian actor Riccardo Scamarcio.
"Shooting in Greece seemed appropriate," says Gavras from his set in the port town of Lavrion, some 50km from Athens. "Politically and economically motivated illegal immigration influence our Western societies. The Greeks were economic immigrants during the 1950s. Now the country has to cope with illegal immigrants on their way to Western Europe."
His wife and producer Michele Ray-Gavras has structured the $11m (EUR7m) project around their Paris-based KG production outfit. Pathe is on board as the French co-production partner and is handling international sales. Further co-producers are Greece's Odeon and Italy's Novo. Pre-sales have been made to France 3 Cinema and Medusa in Italy.
The production wrapped on June 15 following a 10-week shoot on the Ile de France in Paris and the French Alps as well as five weeks in Greece. The Greek shoot took place mostly on the island of Crete, with luxury tourist resorts used as production headquarters. "The rich choice of locations was one of the reasons for shooting in the country," says the director.
Gavras praises the know-how of Greek crews as well as the help provided by the heads of the ministries of tourism, culture and merchant marine. However, the film-maker says he is aware that, as the prodigal son, he may have been given easier access to some locations than other film-makers. He is joined by his wife in emphasising "the need for a fully operational Film Commission and the elimination of the abundant red tape".
Gavras knows what he is talking about. At the request of the culture minister, he is presiding over a committee of local experts called to restructure the existing film law.
Delivery of Eden Is West is set for late December. It aims to make its world premiere at the Berlinale in February 2009.