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Journal of Modern Greek Studies 18.1 (2000) 1-12

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Greek Film and the National Interest: A Brief Preface

Stratos E. Constantinidis

This special issue is the first volume of this or any other journal published in English to be dedicated in its entirety to the study of Greek film in the twentieth century. It is also a reflection of the various ways Greek film is perceived and discussed internationally at the end of this century. The essays in this issue are intended to serve as a springboard for future debates and to stimulate further research on Greek film in the English language in the next century. The publication of this volume coincides with a change of Editors in the Journal of Modern Greek Studies. I want to thank Professor Peter Bien for inviting me to become the Guest Editor of this special issue and Professor Susan Buck Sutton, the new Editor of the journal, for honoring my previous agreement and for making it possible for me to complete this project which started three years ago.

In 1997, I sent out a call for papers to academic programs of Greek and to academic programs of film all over the world. I asked all interested individuals to submit a research paper on any aspect of Greek film and its exploits in movie theaters, network television (satellite and cable), and home theaters (video). The papers could have an interdisciplinary or comparative focus, and could apply any method to the study of the work of screenwriters, directors, cinematographers, music composers, actors, editors, producers, and distributors of Greek films in Greece and abroad. Alternatively, they could investigate the artistic, economic, educational, or ideological sides of filmic work. I welcomed papers presenting original research and critical analysis concerning the films of Greek citizens and/or Greek-speaking filmmakers during the twentieth century.

I received many letters of interest from academics who live and work in Australia, Europe, and North America. The number of scholars who expressed an interest in submitting an essay for this special issue was double the combined number of scholars and artists who had responded to my call for papers in 1993 for the special issue on Modern Greek Drama (Journal of Modern Greek Studies, May 1996). It is significant [End Page 1] that the majority of the papers submitted for this Greek Film issue were written by academics working in the United States, whereas the majority of the papers submitted for the Modern Greek Drama issue were written by scholars in Greece. All of the submitted papers underwent blind review, being evaluated anonymously by at least two specialists in each contributor's area of expertise. Those contributors whose papers received positive peer evaluations were asked to make revisions according to the comments of their reviewers. I am pleased and honored to introduce the 13 finalists and their essays to the readers of the Journal of Modern Greek Studies. I want to thank them for making this special issue a stimulating and indispensable one on Greek film.

In this preface, I sketch the historical context of the films discussed in the 13 essays, covering approximately seventy-five years of Greek cinema. In so doing, I give myself the opportunity to comment briefly on a handful of major issues regarding research in Greek cinema. The 13 essays constitute both a record of the achievements of Greek filmmakers and a critique of the unrecoverable past in the life of the Greek nation and the way it is presented in the narrative of Greek films. Greek film in the twentieth century can be squeezed, albeit reluctantly, into four 25-year periods based upon the vagaries of technological and historical developments in Greek society and the Greek film industry.

The First Period of Greek Film: 1900-1925

The first period is as significant as the subsequent ones. I want to emphasize this point for two reasons. First, there seems to be a lack of interest among English-speaking scholars about the early days of Greek cinema. I did not publish any papers about...


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