Being a gay filmmaker in Greece is a challenge. Sometimes it’s sad. Sometimes it’s funny. Other times it’s weird like when your best friend tries to fix you up behind your back (because he/she doesn’t want to see you alone anymore) with someone and that someone arrives in the bar where you are and he sees you and he rejects you while you would have done it first if you have seen him first.
At this point allow me to introduce myself. I am Nicolas Pourliaros, I am forty, I live in Athens and I am a gay filmmaker. I became one at the age of thirty-seven with a degree from the film school. Why I delayed that much? Well,l the greek nuclear family ( it is exactly how it is presented on my “Big greek fat wedding”) could not accept a film director son in the 90’s. My parents had to deal with the gay filmmaker son in the new millennium. Apart from that, there was a nonsupportive boyfriend in the picture (every story must have its own villain) that stopped me. But after a painful breakup and the break out of the financial crisis, I went back to film school.
I discovered my cinematic id and I realized that I wanted to do gay/queer cinema. I faced prejudice and sort of bullying but I was happy. I did four short films and one feature of course with huge problems. All my films were no budget stories. I worked in two jobs, I kept my morning job as a columnist for a magazine and I also worked in the tourist section in order to survive and offer something in the filming process. So my life was writing articles, cleaning toilets that other people used and in the meantime writing scripts or shooting films. The crew of my films never got paid. They were people like me working in other jobs and doing that film thing too. The cast – the same story.
However, the outcome was good. I count thirty-three participations in international film festivals and two awards. But that was not enough to open the door for funds or even for a producer. In a poor country with the financial crisis, gay cinema definitely is considered luxury. Even the producers that are kind ones when they realize that they are reading a script for a gay drama they try to convince you to change it usually with this kind of suggestion: “How about converting your gay leading character to a straight woman?” Of course, I have accepted some rejections from parts of the gay community too with the explanation: “Great job, great film but too sad. Come on we are gay, we have to point out the joy and the colorful life.”
Many times I thought I should move abroad. But it’s not easy to start from scratch. The artistic director of the Outview Gay Film Festival of Athens Maria Katsikadakou keeps telling me not to go. She reminds a Greek motto that says it’s better to be first in the village and not last in the city and she insists that the Greek gay community needs more people like me.
I have a funny story with her too. She discovered me, my first short film in the gay film festival of Oslo Norway not in our country Greece. Usually, we joke about it with the phrase” I discovered him in Norway” which is four hours away with a plane from Greece.
Now I am at a crossroad. I am writing the script for my new film trying to figure out how to do it. I have new troubles and no-one special in my life to hold me and tell me everything will be all right. My friends every day tell me to not even consider not being a gay filmmaker.
For the time being, I uploaded on Vimeo on demand my first short film “Half-life” https://vimeo.com/ondemand/halflifeshortfilm and will continue with my other films too. Now that I am writing this piece I think I should probably start a blog in English with the title Nic the gay Greek filmmaker. Would you be interested in following that? As I a wrote to you, in the beginning, being a gay filmmaker in Greece is a challenge.