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The outlook for the Greek film industry seems quite gloomy in the local distribution/exhibition sectors - despite the recent record admissions of Touch Of Spice - but prospects look much more promising abroad.

The year started with the acclaimed presentation of Theo Angelopoulos' new opus, Trilogy: The Weeping Meadow, at the Berlin Film Festival, which is to be followed, starting this month, with its opening in Germany, France and Italy.

Upcoming title Brides is the latest effort by Pandelis Voulgaris - an international co-production with the US (Cappa Productions) and France (K.G. Productions), executive produced by Martin Scorcese which is currently in post-production and with an eye on a slot at the Cannes film festival.

Another film is also hoping to join the steadily growing success of Greek films abroad. Real Life (Alithini Zoi), marks the second outing of young director/ screenwriter Panos Koutras and is backed by two veteran producers, Panos Papahadzis and Takis Veremis, with vast experience in the local and international market.

Koutras attracted international attention with his debut film, The Attack Of The Giant Mousaka, a low budget venture which borrowed the style of 'B-movies' to parody contemporary Greek society. The film opened in 2001 at the Racine Odeon Paris cinema distributed by Films Distribution after it won plaudits from influential French publications Les Cahiers du Cinema and Liberation.

This helped Koutras to secure rising French star Anne Mouglalis (Claude Chabrol's Merci Pour Le Chocolat, Jean Pierre Limousin's Novo) for Real Life, a surrealistic melodrama. The screenplay , written by Koutras and Panyiotis Evengelidis, deals with the son of a wealthy Athenian family who, returning home after a long absence, is determined to make a new start and embarks on an inner journey in search of his identity, but also of his family past.

Talking to Screen Koutras said, "Real Life, like Mousaka, adopts elements of the absurd and the fantastic. It explores Athenian society, centered on a wealthy, arrogant family devoured by its secrets. The film's plot is a series of twists and surprises, borrowing forms and elements from popular culture, like the melodrama and the soap opera. Endeavoring to position itself between such stereotypes and the archetypes of tragedy, it walks a tightrope between the dramatic and the comical".

StraDa productions' Takis Veremis and Argonauts Productions' Panagiotis Papahadzis and Athina Sakellariou were the driving force behind Koutras vision.

StraDa is the production arm of the powerful Audiovisual conglomerate (film/video acquisition, distribution, exhibition, cinema operator) owned by the Vardinoyannis group which also includes the Playtime Releasing outfit headed by another respected veteran, George Tziotzios.

Veremis managed to get Wild Bunch on board to handle the international sales of Real Life following his first experience with the Paris-based outfit on French master Eric Rohmer's latest opus, Triple Agent, which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival this year.

Strada co-produced Triple Agent with Paris based Rezo co-productions, starring Greek actress Katerina Didaskalou. Wild Bunch was joined by French co-producer Fabrice Coat (Program 33) as the Euros 1.1m Real Life went into production last October with the backing of Argonauts Productions, the Greek Film Centre, and the ET1 Greek public TV and Filmnet involvement.

Argonauts' Panos Papahadzis (a member of the European Producers' Club) brought in his experience as the producer who, back in 1989, was the man behind such local hits as Antonis Kokkinos' End Of An Era and Olga Malea's The Orgasm Of The Cow.

His partner at Argonauts, Athina Sakellariou (member of ACE Producers Network), daughter of the late venerated DoP Dimos Sakellariou, is in charge of expanding Argonaut's involvement in the field of international co-productions.

Real Life is the first major foreign co-production she is handling. The film is actually at the final post-production stage. An answer print will be delivered early April seeking a slot at the Cannes film festival.