Hollywood in the Cyclades

The meeting of George Leontaritis with Steven Bernstein, representatives of investors and Elena Kountoura

An ambitious plan for a film school and studio in the south Aegean moved a step closer to reality on Thursday (March 23), in Miami, when the Lieutenant Governor of the Region of the South Aegean (Cyclades), George Leontaritis met Thursday with the award-winning American cinematographer and director Steven Bernstein, who has a solid record of accomplishment in Hollywood. Mr. Leontaritis also met with investors’ representatives and Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura, about what is being called "The Greek Film Project in Syros.”

The South Aegean Region wants to harness the power of the moving image, the most powerful means of promoting a tourism destination internationally. The meeting is part of an ongoing process involving Greek government officials and Hollywood-centric investors with the eventual goal of establishing a film school and a film studio on the island of Syros. The American investors are said to be very positive about the project, as are all parties involved.

After the meeting Mr. Leontaritis said, "We had a frank and thorough discussion. We discussed all aspects of the investment… we anxiously await the tabling and passage of a bill in Parliament earmarking funds for the project…I believe that from the government side things will move along expeditiously, because now everyone is convinced of the viability of the proposal and the likely positive impact on the Greek economy."

Steven Bernstein is known as a mover and shaker in Hollywood, lending his talents to films such as Monster, which won a best actress Oscar for Charlize Theron, Dominion with John Malkovich, Like Water for Chocolate, One Night With the King, and others. His cinematography in ad work has won the Golden Lion at Cannes, and his how-to book, Film Production, is a standard among aspiring cinematographers and filmmakers.

The benefits of the project not only for the South Aegean, but the Greek economy as a whole, are potentially tremendous, based on survey results focusing on film and tourism.

Tourism Competitive Intelligence, an award-winning tourism research agency, says that 40 million people annually choose a tourism destination because of a movie they saw. The islands of the southern Aegean and their potential as film subjects, are qualified to place very high on the list of sought-after film destinations. The Southern Aegean Region is working in this direction seriously and intensively.