Launching a film financing initiative worth up to 30% ofa budget to attract foreign shoots is probably the best thing has ever happenedto the Greek film industry.

Foreign productions, which used to be welcome source offoreign exchange, have dried up in recent years dueto the lack of studios and the emergence of cheaper and better equippedshooting destinations in central Europe and overseas.

The initiative, which provokedgreat interest when announced at the recent Cannes film festival by deputyminister of Culture Petros Tatoulis, is expected to be tabled shortly fordiscussion to the Parliament before becoming law.

The funding support would go tofilms made with Greek production partners.

In the meantime, localproduction outlets are busy here.

Odeon S.A., one of Greece'sleading local distributors-exhibitors, is implementing an aggressive productionpolicy following Village Roadshow's trend setting production venture two yearsago with Tasos Boulmetis' hit film Touch Of Spice. Odeon had a hugesuccess this year with its co- production stake in and distribution of PandelisVoulgaris' Brides which attracted 750,000 admissions and topped thelocal box office, ahead of foreign fare such as Harry Potter And ThePrisoner Of Azkaban.

Odeon, run by Manos Krezias, has set aside no less thanEuros 14m for production, a considerable amount for a country where productionbudgets rarely exceed the Euros 1,4 million mark.

Odeon has three productionsrunning and two more in the pipeline. The ones in production or in post are allcomedies. They include Loafing and Camouflage-Mermaids In The Aegeanby veteran Nikos Perakis, Tough Woman, marking the second directorialattempt of popular comedian Antonis Kafetzopoulos and Chariton's Choirby debut director Grigoris Karantinakis. The first two directors have a solidbox office track record.

Odeon co-produces with otherprivate outlets such as Elena Hatzialexandrou's Safe Company and CostasLambropoulos' CL Productions.

Other private producers venturing into local productionsinclude Tasos Papandreou's Papandreou S.A., Katerina Oikonomou's Graal S.A.,Despina Mouzakis' Cinegram S.A. which is also very active in internationalco-productions, Panos Papahadzis' Argonauts productions and KonstantinosMoraitis' Bad Movies.

All are working on verydifferent project, but share an increasing anxiety over the ability of thestate subsidised Greek Film Centre (GFC), to abide by its institutionalobligations to provide seed money, co-produce and promote national fare.

The reason for such doubts lieswith the critical financial situation the country is going through - derivedfrom the exorbitant cost of last year's Athens Olympics - which is alsoaffecting the film sector. The GFC has been promised by Culture Ministry thatit will receive Euros 4,5 million, less than half of its Euros 12 millionbudget - which also includes the previous administration production commitmentsthat have not yet materialized.

The situation took anunexpected twist for the worse when the new president and CEO of the GFC, therenowned writer Thanassis Valtinos and its board decided to have 12 projectsgreen lighted for production by the previous administration reassessed.

Thereare hopes that finally a kind of agreement will be reached with the interestedparties to allow for most of these projects to enter production while Valtinoswill be lobbying the Ministry and other sources for additional funding.

For full Greek production listings,click here