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Greece celebrates its cinema in the year of young directors

Greece celebrates its cinema in the year of young directors
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‘Little England’ was the big winner at the ‘Greek Oscars’, the annual Hellenic Film Academy Awards.

Directed by acclaimed film maker Pantelis Voulgaris, the film led the nominations with 13 gongs, winning six awards including best picture, cinematography, costume design and production design.

Set on the Greek island of Andros in the 1930s and 1940s, ‘Little England’ is a family saga about the lives of two sisters who are united and divided by a terrible secret – their love for the same man. It is a story of passion, family and loss.

Pantelis Voulgaris spoke about the difficulties of making a film: “The big challenge we face in serving our expensive and difficult art is the battle that’s waged in the box office. Our first reward was winning this battle. The awards my team received tonight were a very generous gesture on the part of the Hellenic Film Academy.”

‘My Enemy Within’ by Yorgos Tsemberopoulos was the other big winner with three awards – for editing, screenplay and best director.

Already a favourite on the festival circuit, the film tells the story of an intellectual who is forced to re-evaluate his assumptions when violence invades his home and shakes his family to the core.

“I really want to thank the Hellenic Film Academy, which I strongly support. Two hundred people from the Greek film industry vote every year to award these prizes. Such recognition by all these professionals is very important to me. It is a huge moral boost,” said Yorgos Tsemberopoulos.

Kora Karvouni won the best actress award for her performance in ‘September’, directed by Penny Panagiotopoulou.

A film about loneliness, it tells the story of Anna who lives alone with her dog and is forced to reach out to her neighbours when her pet dies.

“This film gave me a hard time, because I didn’t have many lines. I play a very silent character in the film. My co-stars were mainly kids and a dog. These are very unpredictable factors in a film. But, although it was a very challenging and tiring process, I remember every moment of ‘September’ with love,” said the actress with a smile.

After Venice, Themis Panou picked up his second gong for Best Actor for his role in ‘Miss Violence’ by Alexandros Avranas – who also won the Silver Lion in Venice for Best Director.

It is the story of an apparently average Greek family that comes under scrutiny after 11-year old Angeliki commits suicide on her birthday.

“It’s a really unique experience,” said the actor about his double award. “I didn’t believe that it could happen, not even in my wildest dreams. I still can’t quite believe it.”

Costa-Gavras won an honorary award for his lifetime achievement. The Franco-Greek film maker, who lives and works in France, is best known for his films with overt political themes, like the famous thriller ‘Z’.

“The problem with awards is that you don’t expect them. After you’ve received an award, you don’t think about it anymore. What matters to me is when I go back to Greece, I am surrounded by the people and world of my youth, they make me the person I am today,” said Costa-Gavras.

“Two thousand and thirteen was a very good year for the Greek film industry, with many movies going abroad to be shown at international festivals and receiving major awards. Around half of those films were made by a new wave of young Greek directors. It’s hoped 2014 will be an even better year for Greek cinema,” said euronews’ correspondent in Athens, Yorgos Mitropoulos.