Sign the petition: We SUPPORT the 15th Olympia International Film Festival for Children and Young People and Camera Zizanio (Pyrgos, Greece)
Public Statement of Dimitris Spyrou, Artistic Director of OIFF, at the Emergency Press Conference Regarding the Undermining of Olympia Film Festival (12/4/2012, Pyrgos, Municipal Council Hall, 13:00)
Yesterday evening, we were informed that the Regional Administration of Western Greece postponed the discussion regarding the funding of the 15th International Olympia Film Festival for Children and Young People to a regional council meeting which will take place in mid December, after the conclusion of this year’s Festival.
Last February, we submitted the 2012 action plan along with the 2011 financial statement to the Regional Administration. In the summer, the regional council was extensively informed by Deputy Head of Region Mr. Charalambos Kafyras about the detailed financial statement of the 14th Festival. During that particular meeting, representatives of the Festival spoke with regional council members, and Head of Region Mr Apostolos Katsifaras himself, whom they informed about the preparations of the 15th Festival, asking for a private meeting to discuss the matter in further detail.
In September, we requested a decision from the Regional Administration about its participation in the 15th Festival and we were assured that it was a typical matter, that it would soon be settled, and that we could go ahead with the preparations. The same assurance was provided again in October and in November· the only difference was, however, that we were told the share of the Region of Western Greece in the Festival’s funding would be reduced from €120.000 to €70.000, due to its own reduced budget.
On the eve of the Festival, even though the full schedule had already been announced, we were informed that the decision would be made on Monday, December 3, by the Development and Social Planning Committee, and that this would not present a problem regarding the procedural part of the approval of said decision. We once again accepted this assurance, and duly continued with the organisation of the 15th Festival. However, the decision was not made yesterday either.
We believe that this delaying tactic of the Regional Administration is merely a ploy aiming to refuse funding to this Festival. Because the issue here is not just the amount of the funding, but primarily the attitude of the Regional Administration, especially of the Head of Region Mr. Katsifaras, who treats an international film festival, established not only in the hearts of thousands of children and young people, but also in the most distinguished Greek and European film circles, as a minor event. If the allocation of the requested sum was truly difficult, the Regional Administration, in its role as head of the Festival —for we shouldn’t forget that the Deputy Head of Region, Mr. Kafyras, is the Festival’s President— ought to have made every effort to acquire the rest of the amount from other resources (sponsors, private funding, ministries etc), and not trying to evade its responsibilities.
Today the Festival is in its third day, and in full swing. From Apollon Theatre to Trikoupeio Culture Centre in Messolonghi and Municipal Theatre of Aigion, from the Conference Hall to the City Hall, from the TEI building to Dexameni and the schools of Pyrgos and surrounding areas, the Festival holds more than 40 parallel screenings and activities from 9 am to 10:30 pm. A screenings and activities schedule that started last Saturday and will continue nonstop until next Saturday, December 8, when the awards ceremony and the presentation of the week’s workshops and other activities production will take place, a schedule followed by an estimated 20.000 spectators.
It goes without saying that for us it is inconceivable to cancel the Festival while in progress, and dismiss the hundreds of guests from Greece and abroad. That would be a terrible insult by our city and our country inflicted upon all these people who came here to participate in one of the most prominent film festivals for children and young people in the world. Furthermore, we have no intention of evading the financial obligations of this Festival. We take full responsibility, with all that it entails.
Needless to say that this statement is a public expression of anger and indignation towards the Regional Administration ploy to put the kibosh on the Festival’s 15 years of creative existence. Cinema is culture and culture is a powerful way of social resistance against any type of crisis, be it economical, moral or cultural, as the current crisis facing our country. We shall continue creating cinema, we shall continue creating culture, because there is a whole community by our side, which is concerned, which supports this institution, and which in the end will become a shield of protection for it.