In an interview with GNTO Secretary General Panos Livadas, The Immigrant Magazine gets a more in-depth appreciation of Greek culture and his vision for Greek cinema around the world.
What is the purpose of The Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO)?
The Greek National Tourism Organization is responsible for promoting Greece as a worldwide destination. We strive to promote, the authentic Greek brand, by all suitable means, in the ever-changing competitive global environment. With our marketing strategy as a guideline, we communicate the unique Greek experience, while at the same time, following the current global trends we create synergies all over the world towards this end.
What is your vision for Greek cinema around the world?
Cinema is an international means of communication, a global language. Cinema brings people closer, teaches them how to see the world through somebody else’s eyes. Greek cinema has a lot of great stories to tell and a lot of talented directors and actors. We wish to help Greek film production so that it becomes even more extrovert. During the past few years, we have had some great examples such as Yorgos Lanthimos’s Dogtooth, which was nominated for Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards in 2011, while the awarded at this year’s LAGFF Miss Violence of Alexandros Avranas has also been recognised in the most important film festivals. We do have to support all these young filmmakers who share a sharp and fresh point of view, so that they communicate it to the world.
How do you plan to enhance foreign film production in Greece?
Greece is a worldwide known destination, home of some of the most magnificent sceneries in the world, ideal for film shooting. Having international productions filmed in Greece, is a big priority for us. Towards this end and following the international good practices, the Ministry of Tourism is at the final stage of preparing a new legal framework about foreign production in Greece. This, up-to-date legal framework, will be based on two main pillars: the first one will be a concrete tax and grant incentive policy while the second one will be the creation of a one-stop-shop where all the necessary for filmmaking in Greece bureaucratic procedures, will be incorporated.
What do you think about the LAGFF and its impact on the entertainment scene in the USA?
The Los Angeles Greek Film Festival is a very important festival, as it showcases new films from Greek filmmakers worldwide and thus bridges the gap between Greek filmmakers and Hollywood. I believe that your quest of promoting Greek Cinema in the U.S.A. is a paramount one, crucial for all Greek filmmakers. You have the know- how of the industry and each year you provide a common ground for cultural exchange, essential for all Greek filmmakers.
What is your message to Greek actors and directors who are doing their best to represent Greek culture among the likes of Hollywood, Bollywood, and Nollywood etc.?
For us, all the Greeks working in the international cultural industry are the best ambassadors of the Greek spirit and culture. We are proud of their accomplishments and wish to see them being even more widely recognised. My message would be that we, the Greek State, are eager to help them and support them any way we can, so that we jointly promote modern Greek culture by highlighting its hidden treasures and root.
This year’s festival showcases strong participation of female filmmakers and many first time-directors. Do you think this is a sign that there is finally light at the end of the tunnel given the turmoil and upheaval that has plagued the Greek economy and society as a whole?
It’s true that we went through a lot in the past. However, the political stability since the end of 2012, along with all the radical reforms that have taken place, confirmed that Greece is a safe and hospitable destination. We consider this success as a confidence boost for Greece, offered to us from people from almost every corner of the earth. This has been one of the foundations of the rebound of the Greek economy in which the tourism sector played a crucial role. It contributed decisively to the surplus of the Greek economy, the first since 1948, while the revenues from tourism constitute the 16% of the country’s GDP. We believe that filmmaking will contribute towards further growth.
What is the tourism climate of Greece right now?
We are happy to say that we are going through one of the best years ever; 2013 was a record year for us and all the predictions indicate that 2014 will be a new back-to -back record year with approximately 22 million tourists, including cruise arrivals. Greece is a hospitable and safe destination, a “home away from home” for millions of people every year, who come to experience the unique Greek experience: the culture, the food, the nature, the way of life. All of them, end up being in love with Greece!