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The Ten Top Films of Greek Cinema

The Ten Top Films of Greek Cinema

The Ten Top Films of Greek Cinema. Photo Credit: IMDB (Never on Sunday)

The ten top films of Greek cinema are hard to define because, although many may not know it, the Greek film industry is one of the oldest and the best. One that took root in the early 1900s. WWI, the Greek-Turkish Wars, WWII and the Greek Civil War brought its early beginnings to a halt however. Later, the Junta’s censorship policies and the  ensuing political instability also added to the problem.

Yet it has had international success. Past productions such as Michael Cacoyannis’ Stella (1955) and A Girl in Black (1956), for example, both received Golden Globe Awards. Later, Never on a Sunday (1960) and of course, Zorba the Greek (1964), were both recipients of an Academy Award.

More recently, Greek films such as Dogtooth and The Lobster by Yorgos Lanthimos by Greek director, film producer and screenwriter have also been applauded at awards ceremonies lie the Cannes Film Festival: the former in 2009 with  Prix Un Certain Regard and the latter in 2015 with a Jury Prize. More recently this year, five Greek films were also chosen to enter the famous French film festival. Netflix as well has just released Athena, another stellar film production by Greek-French filmmaker Romain Gavras.

History of the Greek film Industry

The Manaki Brothers

The Manaki Brothers. Credit: Public Dpmain

The history of Greek cinema began in the spring of 1897, when the Athenians got to watch the first short film. The Manakis brothers, Yanaki and Milton founded the Greek movie industry however when the used to first film camera to create a feature-length motion picture in Manastir. The Weavers, as it was called, was an hour-long documentary on their grandmother, who was a weaver and spinner.

The 1950s and 60s were the Golden Age of Greek cinema, according to most critics. Greek actors, directors, writers and producers for the first time received international attention and won critical acclaim. More than 50 films were made every year; in particular, in the film noir genre.

After the fall of the Junta in the year 1974, the Greek movie industry had is renaissance, with films such as Micheal Cacoyannis’ Iphigenia winning an Oscar nomination. Melina Mercouri, one of Greece’s most beloved actresses, became Minister of Culture, and was able to gain more government financial support for the Greek film industry and created connections in the movie world abroad. Those efforts paved the path for newer, younger generation of Greek filmmakers and writers. Today, they have begun to employ their skills in a new genre called the Greek Weird Wave, which arose from the economic struggles of the country. The films of Yorgos Lanthimos best defines it and has made one of its most illustrious directors.

The top ten films

Today, as we know, Greece has become the new Hollywood of Europe, drawing directors and filmmakers from around the globe. Greek cinema and Greek cinematic artists are also continuing to making waves, which brings us to the top ten Greek films.

Never on Sunday (1950) by Jules Dassin for his wife Melina Mercouri, in which she stars as a strong-willed, independent prostitute.

Stella (1955) a modern Greek tragedy written by Michael Cacoyannis and starring Melina Melincouri. It tells the story of a free-spirited women forced into marriage.


Stella film poster. Top 10 Greek films. Credit: IMDb

The Counterfeit Coin (1955), Giorgos Tzavella’s Greek comedy-drama about a coin maker and a banker who decided to mint counterfeit coins.

O Drakas (1956) Nikos Koundouros tells the tale of a gangster’s doppelgänger who gets drawn into the murky morals of the criminal world.

The Red Lanterns (1963), Vasili Georgiadis unorthodox presentation of 1960 society and religion through the eyes of the female sex workers.

Phaedra (1962), another film by Jules Dassin starring Melincouri. Melincouri plays the 2nd wife of a shipping tycoon, who falls in love with his son.

The Travelling Players (1975), Theo Angelopoulos history of Greece through the eyes of a travelling troupe of actors.

Voyage to Cythera (1984), another Angelopoulos film. This one  on the life of an elderly Greek exiled after the Civil War and his return to his homeland.

Dogtooth (2009), Yorgos Lanthimos’ forage into Greek Weird Wave cinema. Lantimos’ film centre’s around a family trapped on an island whose isolation leads to terrifying consequences.

Plato’s Academy (2009), Filippos Tsitos study of the conflict between nationalism and multiculturalism in Greece.

Source : Jonita Simmons Σύνδεσμος

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