98' / 1.66:1



Nikos Perakis
Nikos Perakis

"Arpa Colla" was my third – and toxic – attempt to return to Greece. In the script, which I wrote in Berlin during the winter of 1980-81, I elaborated my experiences in funding "Milo Milo", the enthusiastic prompting of my friends, conflicts with the aesthetics of the film establishment and the contrived ideologies of the political party intellectuals. The film had the sad distinction of being censored by two governments: the script by a liberal one, and the first print by a socialist one, but even at that time the the authorities were unable to enforce the decisions and I got off lightly. Also, a few days before the screening at the Thessaloniki festival, the Greek Film Center, which by majority decision had rejected a co-production before we started shooting, now reconsidered and purchased 20% for two million drachmas. That is why the GFC could not appear in the titles. The other 80% came from the German BETA FILM which pre-purchased the movie for the German-speaking area, though they were more interested in ensuring copyrights to the production "Felix Krull", for which I had done the production design, but that's another complicated story. Panousopoulos's company took over the production and commissioned George Iakovidis, who had successfully managed "Milo Milo" three years earlier.

When the press bulletin was released a very polite gentleman called me at the office and informed me that the title of the film misappropriated the trademark of a well-known company and asked me to change the logo. I assured him that we had no intention of competing with his company's soft drink, that our budget was too small to change the logo, and that we were actually hoping his company would sponsor the project. The gentleman, who was a lawyer, told me that he was obliged to resort to justice and I begged him to do us the favour, because there was no budget for advertising and a lawsuit by Coca Cola against "Arpa Colla" would be the perfect advertisement for both sides. After that the lawyer reserved the right to take action, but unfortunately he did not call again and we lost the big sponsor.


After wasting time and losing money making unpopular films, two young directors, a conformist socialist and a radical communist, must resort to commercials to make a living. Hoping to return to serious filmmaking, they call on producers and try to persuade rich friends to invest in their talent.

The film is the visualisation of their common unrealized visions. A surrealistic amalgam of fragments deliberately evoking well-known film genres, it begins as a romantic drama but soon turns ideological and neorealist. After a cosmopolitan intermezzo, the film develops into a transvestite farce on a feminist theme. Then it suddenly becomes a historical epic changing in the middle of a long one-shot sequence into a Greek western with a poignant monologue from Sophocles’ Antigone.


When I started looking for actors, I had already seen Mimis Chrisomallis in the film "The Heavy Melon" and Νikos Kalogeropoulos in "Learn How to Read and Write, Son", but I wanted to take full advantage of the opportunity to get to know a generation I didn’t know at all. Rocky was brought in by Panousopoulos who had shot commercials with her and was sure of her talent. While I was meeting candidates for the role of Soula I discovered that the two innocent love scenes threw the younger actresses into a panic, which would have complicated working with them, so I offered the role to Despina Pagiannou, who had grown up and studied in Germany, proposing that she begin her career in her fatherland. But I did understand the insecurity of young actors, because my earlier films had gotten lamentable reviews in Greece. There was an explanation for this, because I had first-hand experience of the confusion of young filmmakers – indeed this was the theme of the movie. I had seen enough films fall victim to militant cinema theorists and politically dogmatic critics, and had followed the wild polemic of the new (NEK) against the old (PEK) Greek cinema, something like Yin and Yang. Typical of this climate was the classic – and always the first – question asked by actors and crewmembers when I proposed that they participate in the movie:

"Is it going to be in the festival?"*
"If they take it," I usually answered, since shooting a movie did not guarantee it a screening at the Thessaloniki Festival, because there were other criteria besides the so-called qualitative ones. Participation in this festival - which during the junta accepted films advertised with tanks, and after this era restricted entry by the volatile and unpredictable "2nd gallery crowd" - was considered a kind of certificate of quality, even more so if the film won a prize.

I had been told that the "old" stars like Malena Anousaki or Nikos Rizos would be uncooperative and that scared me, but they turned out to be much easier to work with.

* The Thessaloniki Film Festival was then the only national film event with a competitive section for "quality" Greek films and an info section for less ambitious ones.


Dimitris Chrysomalis
Nikos Kalogeropoulos
Despina Pagianou
Ilias Logothetis
Dimitris Piatas
Rocky Taylor
Nikos Rizos
Yiorgos Kyritsis
Dimitris Poulikakos
Yiorgos Yiogleris
Betty Livanou
Kostas’s Mother
Malena Anousaki
Production Secretary
Sofia Seirli
Karalefiotis’s Secretary
Haroula Velentza
Blonde Advertiser
Ismini Kalesi
Vasilis Tsaglos
Crew Member
Nikos Tsachiridis
Crew Member
Panagiotis Botinis
Crew Member
Vasilis Tzimbidis
Mr. Tobler
Charles Wane
Yiorgos Tsemberopoulos
Yiorgos’s Son
Alexandros Kollatos
German Officer
Stelios Kousis
Andreas Nomikos
Cameraman Casting
Vagelis Kotronis
Marina Griva


Nikos Perakis
Director of Photography
Yiorgos Panousopoulos
Production Manager
Yiorgos Iakovidis
Set+Costume Designer
Heidrun Brand
Nikos Mamangakis
Sound Engineer
Marinos Athanasopoulos
Yiorgos Triantafyllou
Make-up Artist
Argyro Kouroupou
Hair Stylist
Niki Psimouli
Props Master
Michalis Floriotis
Still Photographer
Dionysis Petroutsopoulos
Post Production Co-ordinator
Yiorgos Tsemberopoulos
Assistant Director
Lakis Antonakos
Fotini Argyropoulou
Boom Operator
Christos Pattas
Co-operating Editor
Alexis Pezas
Assistant Cameraman
Stamatis Yiannoulis
Clapper Loader
Kostas Kekemenis
Film Loader
Angelos Viskadourakis
Yiannis Papadimitriou
Dolly Grip
Yiannis Papadakis
Yiorgos Koliopantos, Anastasios Kitsos
Lena Knight
Generator Operator
Panagiotis Karamanos
Production Secretary
Irini Perakis
Nikos Koliokotsos
Music Recording
Eleftheria Arvanitaki
Solo Bouzouki
Thanasis Polykantriotis
Sound Mixing
Thanasis Arvanitis, ΤΟΝE STUDIO
Film Lab
Produced by
Nikos Perakis Filmproduktion
BETA Film Munich
Greek Film Centre
Spentzos Film



Duration 96’(25 fps)
EASTMAN Color 35 mm
Frame Aspect 1.66:1




The script that I submitted in 1981 with the co-production application to the Greek Film Center was entitled "Letters, You Butcher!", which was what audiences used to shout in protest when English dialogue was not subtitled, or when the image went out of focus or the carbon-arc projector lamp flickered, or when any mistake was made by the projectionist. I do not believe that this primitive metaphor was the reason my proposal was rejected, but the decisions of the GFC often seemed to me like a kind of indirect censorship, not necessarily governmental. This was proven a decade later when I was appointed by a minister of a center-right party to the GFC Board and my colleagues of the socialist and leftwing factions asked me to resign for reasons of "political sensitivity". Since I was not at all politically "sensitive", I resigned two months later, only because I couldn't bear the nonsense I heard in the board meetings.

The "Bureau of Information and Publicity" that read the same, self-censored, script just to grant me a "shooting permit", was more lenient and "approved" the script, provided that I "eliminate words that insult public decency". See copy of the "permission" "permit" in MISCELLANEOUS. LINK

But then the government changed and the new socialist committee saw the movie - renamed "Arpa Colla" - and freaked out. The chairman of the committee, who did not even tell me his name, insisted among other things that I cut the scene where the Nazi-collaborator Eteocles commits suicide by stabbing his brother, the communist guerrilla Polynikis, through the back with his bayonet.

He had caught the symbolism and but he thought that the scene ridiculed the anti-Nazi resistance and was therefore potentially dangerous for the national reconciliation. Although I was flattered by the subversivness he detected in the movie, I asked again to see the director and more or less repeated the same scene as in 1979 - see "Milo Milo" SCENES - but this time using the threat of a press conference, since my right-wing uncle had been replaced by a green-guard*.

*Green is the colour of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) that came to power in October 1981.