Local and international executives come together at second Riding The Greek Wave conference organised by Hellenic Film Academy.

WIth much political and financial upheaval in the country, Greek cinema has finally received a much needed shot in the arm.

This happened during the weekend-long second edition of Riding the Greek Wave, the annual conference organised by the Hellenic Film Academy in the presence of a selected group of foreign film executives.

For the first time since the early June shut down of the public radio and television network (ERT) by the government, a move that blocked all financial backing made more or less regularly available by the network to local productions, the government confirmed in public that the backing to local productions would resume shortly in the wake of the appointment in the very next days of a CEO to head the TV and Radio public network actually in the restructuring process.

A spokesman for the vice-minister in charge of the restructuring, Pandelis Kapsis, announced that the new, still nameless, public network would give immediate priority to the financial obligations towards its intenational partners, among them Eurimages and ARTE.

That would allow for three out of the four local co-productions having received in the recent past Eurimages backing to proceed with their post-production process while the fourth would be enabled to fully enter its pre-production stage.

Those are Alexis Alexiou’s Wednesday 04.45, a Kostas Lambropoulos (CL) production co-produced with Germany’s Twenty Twenty Vision, Yiannis Economides’ Small Fish (aka The six fingered hand) a co-production between Christos Konstantakopoulos Faliro House Productions and Germany’s Match Factory and Panos Koutras’ Xenia, an Alexandra Bousiou (Wrong Man) and Eleni Kossyfidou and Panos Koutras (100% Synthetic) production coproduced with Marie Pierre Macia’s French outlet MPM Film and Belgium’s Entre Chien et Loup.

The fourth film, that in pre-production, is Panos Karkanevatos’ Riverbanks a Vergi film production in co-production with Peter Bardehle German production outlet Vidicom and Arte among others.

The spokesman also announced that another 12 local film projects on hold which have been green lit by the previous ERT administration would also be funded. This is expected to occur in a maximum period of 90 days.

In the wake of such a development the executive director of Eurimages and keynote speaker in the event, Roberto Olla, accepted to do all in his power to secure that the Council of Europe organisation would show flexibility in continuing with the financial backing process of the already approved local co-productions giving the time to the new public radio TV organisation to resume its contractual financial obligations towards those films financed by Eurimages. Such “tolerance” is not however expected to exceed the 90 days time span.

The combined public Radio TV and Eurimages developments represent a positive step for the Greek Film Center too which used to collaborate with the former ERT co-financing a series of co-production and development strands. The renewal of such collaboration should ease the pressure on the cash-strapped organisation, as it was the only one left to bear during the six past months with the backing of local productions.

It is significant that this is the second year such positive developments come out of the Riding the Greek Wave conference. Last year presence here of Berlinale topper Dieter Kosslick as a key speaker sparked the decision to reserve this year a special treatment at the Berlin Co-production Market to projects coming from such financially pressured countries as Greece, Spain and Portugal.

Guests and speakers at the 2013 conference also included Ed Guiney from Ireland’s Element Pictures, which will co-produce Giorgos Lanthimos’ Lobster; ACE president Simon Perry; ARTE Germany commissioning editor Holger Stern; EAVE script expert Jacques Akchoti; Former CNC head Eric Garandeau; producers Guillaume de Seille of France’s Arizona, Thanos Karathanos of Germany’s Twenty Twenty Vision; Marie-Pierre Macia of France’s MPM Film and Titus Kreyenberg and Germany’s Una Film, Germany, sales agent Kasia Karwan of France’s Premium Films; Biennale College-Cinema and Torino Filmlab executive Savina Neirotti, SOFA founder and Berlinale delegate Nikolaj Nikitin and YouTube head of partnerships Federica Tremolada.

Joined by a host of Greek colleagues they dealt during the two-day event with a variety of issues centered on the way the Greek cinema could be situated in the international scene profiting from its present heightened profile reflected in the global film festival circuit.

They were complemented by a Treatment Lab and Pitching Training workshop held by the Czech FAMU film School Dean screenwriter Pavel Jech and Element Pictures development executive Danny Takhar. Six hand-picked young local filmmakers participated.