Top Ten Greek Films

Top Ten Greek Films

Greek cinema has a long and rich history with many Greek directors and actors gaining international acclaim for their work. In 1906 Greek Cinema was born when the Manakis Brothers started recording in Macedonia and the French filmmaker “Leons” produced the first “Newscast” from the midi-Olympic Games of Athens (the unofficial Olympic games of 1906).

The 1950s and 60s were considered to be the golden age of world cinema and Greek cinema. The Thessaloniki International Film Festival was first held in 1960, and would subsequently evolve into the primary showcase for emerging filmmakers from Greece and the Balkans region. The festival showcases both international and Greek films, and awards the “Golden Alexander” for the best feature film.

In the last 50 years the production of Greek films has risen dramatically and in more recent times a new generation of young directors has emerged. More arty, contemporary-paced films have become all the rage, bringing commercial success and critical acclaim. Still, the older generation of films continues to amass cult followings.

So which Greek films make the grade?

  1. Zorba the Greek (1964) – directed by Michael Cacoyannis, starring Anthony Quinn, the film was a major commercial success and was nominated for several Academy Awards. The movie was based on the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis and remains a hugely popular film today.
  2. Stella (1955) – a retelling of the opera Carmen, starring Melina Mercouri.
  3. O Drakos (1956) – directed by Nikos Koundouros – a simple man realizes that he looks like a criminal named “Drakos”. The police are after him and he hides in a night club. Day by day, he identifies himself with “Drakos”.
  4. Antigone (1961) – starring Irene Papas,  the film is an adaptation of the Ancient Greek tragedy by Sophocles.
  5. Electra (1962) – again starring Irene Papas (well she IS one of my favourite actresses), directed by Michael Cacoyannis, as the first installement of his “Greek tragedy” trilogy, followed by The Trojan Women and Iphigenia. Based on the play by Euripides.
  6. The Trojan Women (1971) – starring Katherine Hepburn and Vanessa Redgrave, based on the play by Euripides.
  7. Brides (2004) – set in 1922, is the story of a mail order bride, one of 700, aboard the SS King Alexander, who falls in love with an American photographer. The film was supported by Martin Scorcese who is credited as executive producer and stars Damien Lewis.
  8. Dogtooth (2009) – directed by Giorgos Lanthimos about a husband and wife who keep their children ignorant of the world outside their property well into adulthood – I personally found this a very weird, disturbing watch but it has won several awards for its ‘groundbreaking’ content.
  9. Alps (2011) – another film by Giorgos Lanthimos – a group of people start a business where they impersonate the recently deceased in order to help their clients through the grieving process.
  10. Xenia (2014) – 16-year-old Danny and 18-year-old Odysseus cross the entire country in search of their Greek father, after their Albanian mother passes away.

I made this list with the help of various ‘top film’ websites – which Greek film would you put on your top ten list?



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  1. 28th October 2014 / 12:33 pm

    excellent list, Katie… I did watch “Zorba” many times… 🙂 I do hope you’re proud of your Greek roots/origins, just like Melina Mercouri(Madame Jules Dassin) and Irene Papas…

  2. Guy Johnson
    22nd October 2014 / 4:43 pm

    What about Captain Correllis Mandolin, Driving Aprodite & (of course) Shirley Valentine!

    • EBotziou
      22nd October 2014 / 4:45 pm

      Can’t say I’m a fan of Captain Correlli’s Mandolin…but Shirley Valentine was a winner!

  3. MM Jaye
    21st October 2014 / 11:15 am

    Great post! I would also add “Never on Sunday” (1960) which won the Academy Award for Best Song (Manos Hadjidakis) and was also nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Melina Mercouri and also “The Red Lanterns” (1963) that made the official selection of the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Both great films!

    • EBotziou
      21st October 2014 / 11:16 am

      So many great Greek films!

  4. Bev Stellas
    20th October 2014 / 12:42 pm

    Mikra Aglia…stunning film set and filmed on the island of Andros.

  5. 20th October 2014 / 12:26 pm

    Big Fat Greek Wedding? Not Greek enough.

    • EBotziou
      20th October 2014 / 12:27 pm

      YES that should definitely be in there but I thought it a bit too obvious and also my love for that film just overshadows everything!!! 😉

  6. 20th October 2014 / 12:23 pm

    The only one of these which have have seen is Zorba The Greek which I really enjoyed, partly no doubt because Anthony Quinn was a great actor. I really enjoy non-English language films and many of my favourite films are in a language I can’t understand. Sometimes I watch them and I forget to put the subtitles on and after 5 minutes I realise I don’t really know what is being said!!

    I will have to give Greek movies a try as I am sure I will enjoy them.

    I really recommend the Iranian film The Colour of Paradise which I loved so much and even though I showed it to my wife many years ago, it is still her favourite too.

    I think our lives would be much richer if we watched more foreign language films.