September 19, 2006

Greece to allow filming on Acropolis

Posted at 12:46 pm in Acropolis

Throughout the modern history of Greece, the country has closely guarded the usage of the Acropolis for commercial activities, stressing that it does not want to show disrespect to the sacred space. Now, for the first time they are going to allow parts of a feature film to be shot at the site, hoping that it will give valuable international publicity to Greece’s archaeology.

The Guardian

Acropolis to make Hollywood debut
Helena Smith in Athens
Monday September 18, 2006
The Guardian

The Acropolis will soon become the backdrop for a big-screen comedy after Athens gave the green light for the glory that was Greece to be used by Hollywood for the first time.

Breaking with a no-go policy, applied without distinction to the great and good of modern cinematography, Greece’s powerful archaeological council (KAS) has permitted the classical masterpiece to feature in the movie – known for the moment as My Life in Ruins, and produced by Tom Hanks.

Filming of the comedy, a life-long dream of its star, Nia Vardalos, who shot to fame with the autobiographical hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding, is expected to begin in Athens next month. Ms Vardalos, who plays an archaeologist tour guide whose groups get entangled in comic situations among the ruins, struck lucky after convincing KAS that the movie would strengthen Greece’s appeal abroad.

Despite persistent requests from some of the world’s most acclaimed directors, Greek officials had always rejected the idea of the site, dating from 500BC, being filmed – on grounds it would degrade a monument regarded as sacred.

The actor reportedly spent months explaining the fine details of the comedy.

The movie will be produced by Play Tone, the firm run by Hanks and his half-Greek wife Rita Wilson, and will also feature Delphi, Epidaurus and ancient Olympia. An official at the Greek culture ministry said the 2004 Athens Olympics’ successful impact on tourism had “most definitely” helped win the deal. “Ultimately it was decided that a Hollywood film shot in situ after the Olympics would promote ancient Greek civilisation and have long-term benefits for the country.”

Hanks, who with Ms Wilson did much to promote Vardalos, a stand-up Los Angeles comic before she was discovered by the Hollywood couple, has a holiday home in Greece and regularly visits.

The decision is all the more startling since My Big Fat Greek Wedding, a low-budget film that became the highest grossing independent feature ever released, also irritated many Greeks who were unhappy at the way they, and their ethnic cousins in the US, were portrayed.

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