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Publishers turn from Greek fiction to translated titles September 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life Greek.
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National Book Center statistics show new trends > Readers will have a wide range to choose from by Christmas, as new titles are starting to appear in bookstores. 

As the publishing season opens, there has been a decrease in the amount of Greek fiction, according to statistics from the National Book Center of Greece (EKEBI). It is partly because of an excess of titles in previous years, partly because the big names in the field have recently published books. But it is also due to a preference among Greek publishers for foreign fictions, both classics in new translations and contemporary works. Another factor that plays a part is the rising interest in non-fiction, essays, studies, history and politics.

EKEBI’s figures show that in 2006, even though fiction represented the greatest number of titles, there was a fall of 5.9 percent over 2005 and 2.1 percent over 2001.

Translations represented 44 percent of the total output in 2005 (out of a total of 9,209 titles), but a higher percent of fiction titles. In 2006, for instance, 47.9 percent of fiction titles published in Greece were translations.

In their latest books, many of the leading names in Greek fiction, including Pavlos Matessis, Vassilis Alexakis, Manos Eleftheriou, Dimitris Mingas and Mitsos Kasoulas, have embarked on mystery and detective fiction. Primarily, however, they have focused on the past, the years of childhood and youth, in a journey into self-knowledge.

Few new titles deal with contemporary society and problems. Among newly published writers there is a special interest in urban settings, inner quests, and historical fiction.

Greek publishers offer a broad range of foreign fiction in translation. Apart from new translations of foreign classics, such as Dostoevsky, Celine, Forster, Hemingway, Gorki, Camus, Nabokov, Eliot and Chekhov, there are novels by leading contemporary writers who come to grips with the world and the societies they live in.

Philip Roth’s political fantasy “The Plot Against America” and Jonathan Coe’s portrayal of 1940-50s English society “The Rain Before It Falls” are both published in Greece by Polis. Antonio Tabucchi, John M. Coetzee, Jose Saramago, John Updike, Yasmina Khadra, John Banville and Orhan Kemal are some of the highly regarded writers that Greek publishers have chosen to translate.


Book activities and celebrations September 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Books Life Greek.
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September 30 is International Translation Day. This year it will be celebrated on October 1 in Athens with “Translating Europe,” a discussion organized by the European Translation Center (EKEMEL).

Peter Bergsma, Director of Translators’ House Amsterdam, Francoise Cartano, Director of the International College of Literary Translators in Arles, France, and Francoise Wuilmart, Director of the European College of Literary Translators in Seneffe, Belgium, will address the meeting and a discussion will follow. Simultaneous translation will be provided. At the Leonidas Zervas Hall, National Research Center, 48 Vasileos Constantinou Avenue, Athens, at 7 p.m. Information > call EKEMEL at 210 3639350.

New branch > Metaichmio publishers invite you for a drink to celebrate the opening of their new branch in Thessaloniki, at 81 Olympou Street, today from 6-10 p.m. The bookstore will run a series of meetings for primary (Friday) and secondary school teachers (Saturday) to meet the authors of the new schoolbooks and supplementary titles from Metaichmio. For information call 2310 250075.

Launch > Today at 8 p.m. I. Sideris publishers and the Ianos Bookstore present Giorgos Mylonas’s book “www.ELENI-ONEIRA.GR” www.eleni-dreams.gr. Culture Ministry General Secretary Christos Zachopoulous, director Nikos Koundouros and journalist Antonis Prekas will speak, At Ianos Bookstore, 24 Stadiou Street, Athens, tel 210 3217917.

Recycling > On Saturday at 12.30 p.m., at Ianos Bookstore, Costas Magos, author of “Skoupidistan” (Trashville) and “To dasos tis xylinis xystras” (The Forest of the Wooden Sharpener), both published by Patakis, will lead children aged 5-12 and visitors into the magical world of recycling, with constructions made of discarded bottles, plastic and wood. At Ianos Bookstore, 24 Stadiou Street, Athens, tel 210 3217917.

Music and poetry > Celebrate International Tourism Day with music and poetry dedicated to C.P. Cavafy in the Roman Forum today at 9 p.m. RSVP 210 9333522, hatta@hatta.gr.

New paths open for Greece’s Metaichmio Publishing September 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life Greek, Hellenic Light Europe, Media Radio TV.
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Dimitris Mingas’s novel “Sta psemata paizame” (We Were Only Joking), published by Metaichmio, is being made into a miniseries for Spanish television.

The Catalan Cinema Institute, an independent company that has made many prize-winning films, television series and theater productions, has a tradition of adapting novels for the screen, including works by Manuel Vazquez Montalban and Eduardo Mendoza. The company likes Mingas’s book for what it saw as a direct, frank account of the rapid political changes that have taken place in Europe over the past 30 years.

The underbelly of the movie ratings business as run by the big studios September 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.
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Kirby Dick delves into ‘unofficial censorship’ controlled by the MPAA in a new documentary > Director Kirby Dick even hired two private investigators to sniff out the identities of the ratings board members

The documentary “This Film is Not Yet Rated,” currently playing at Athen’s Andora cinema in Ambelokipi, presents a behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood with a mocking expose of the movie ratings board. Following the footsteps of Michael Moore, director Kirby Dick tries to reveal the identities of the secret committee in charge of rating the industry’s productions, the people behind what is, essentially, unofficial censorship. His arguments are based on nothing more than common sense, but his sense of humor is, to say the least, hilarious as he delves into the underbelly of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), rating the ratings board’s ratings.

“This Film is Not Yet Rated” conveys in a simple yet disarming manner the way in which a handful of experts, assigned by the president of the MPAA, decide behind closed doors what is fit for public consumption, what is moral and correct, often showing bias for particular movies they deem suitable.

The ratings system imposed in 1968 by Jack Valenti, who served as President of the MPAA for 38 years and had close ties to the US Senate and the White House, led to a type of neo-puritanism dominating the system. Sex was reviled by mainstream pictures, while extreme violence gained considerable ground over the years and has become an integral part of every successful movie, despite what the MPAA likes to think. The industry’s reaction to calls for a violence ban on television and in movies following the September 11 bombings in the US and the loss of profits this would entail says it all. Hollywood had, in the long term, to face the music over last-minute premiere cancellations of extremely violent movies, as well as the charges leveled at the industry that is responsible for creating a young audience of consumers drawn to violence.

Extremely violent movies, however, continued to be churned out, despite the measures taken to “protect” the average viewer from anything damaging to his moral code. New ground was also gained by extreme Protestant elements, which introduced moralistic bounds in the lexicon of the movie executives and endowed Hollywood with an informal puritanical code in the style of the notorious Hayes Censorship Act, aimed mostly at sexual content. Throughout the course of all this, no one in Hollywood really cared about getting an R rating, for minors with adult supervision. The majority of movies aimed at the young audiences of multiplex cinemas and DVDs are violent action adventures of the splatter variety, such as “Saw.” What does frighten the execs is the possibility of a NC-17 rating, for adults only, which essentially excludes movies with strong erotic content and limits broad distribution.

At one point in “This Film is Not Yet Rated,” one of the people being interviewed, a famous personality behind the scenes of the industry, claims that the prevailing view at the MPAA is that a natural depiction of sex poses a greater threat to family and social values than violence. Last year’s blockbuster “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” confirms this: The story is set during the Vietnam War period and begins with two love scenes in which the female figure is cleverly veiled to hide all contentious parts. The sexual act is represented by a banal eroticism that, more than anything else, cultivates a sense of voyeurism. After this brief appetizer comes the main course: massacres and maimings, realistically imprinted on celluloid, even going as far as allusions to cannibalism.

Meanwhile, it is common knowledge that young people have never had as much access to pornography as they have today, because of the Internet. In mainstream movies though, the human body, sexuality and erotic pleasure are viewed either in a self-censoring mood or as a cliche: The nude is either there or entirely absent, as a provocation that nourishes teenage fantasies, while over-the-top sexist dialogues transform movie scenes into shocking one-liners, “The 40 Year Old Virgin”. Two recent comedies, “Georgia Rule” and “Knocked Up”, are perfect examples of this.

The moralistic “Georgia Rule” is like a Bible study class with Jane Fonda playing the grandmother who acts as a link between her daughter, a shipwreck of sexual liberation, and her disoriented young granddaughter. Sex is there just at the core of dramaturgy in most scenes, dramatic and comic, but wholly absent in practice. It is there in words only, which are, at times, rather bold.

In “Knocked Up,” a film which is supposed to be one step ahead of the usual teen comedy fare, sex is like an ink stain in the dark. Two diametrically opposed characters learn about the importance of marriage and companionship when the woman accidentally becomes pregnant. Their encounter is of little interest. They meet at a club, get drunk and sleep together. The movie has constant references to sex in the dialogue, such as a group of young men looking at porn on the Internet, while there is a complete absence of the sexual tension from the encounter that works in such a catalytic manner on the lives of the otherwise just drunk lovers.

Andora Theater, 117 Sevastoupoleos Street, Ambelokipi, Athens, tel 210 6998631.

Greece > A timeless destination September 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece, Tourism.
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September 27 is World Tourism Day and Greece ranks in the top 15 destinations worldwide.

Referring to the celebration, newly appointed Tourist Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos said on Wednesday that “times are more demanding for Greek tourism today and the expectations of all who are involved are far greater.” He further noted that it is important to highlight the economic dimension of tourism and its contribution to the development course of the country.

Greece ranks in the top 15 destinations worldwide. The Greek tourism sector is a continuous growth market and represents 18% of the country’s GDP, with annual arrivals projected at 20 million by 2010. 

Greece is a well established brand and a timeless destination. At present, international investors from Europe, USA, South Africa and Australia are developing integrated resorts which include golf courses, conference centres, spas and marinas. Tourism clusters are evolving, creating mini-destinations for targeted tourism investment.

Competitive advantages >
* Tourism product covers history, culture, diverse landscape, Mediterranean climate and gastronomy
* Greek Government runs an international targeted marketing campaign annually
* Greece attracted more than 16 million visitors in 2006 and is projected at 20 million by 2010
* Offers year-round tourism potential
* Provides generous investment incentives
* Streamlined licensing procedure

Greece is the solution for international investors seeking business opportunities in one of the finest tourism destinations in the world.

Investment opportunities >
* Integrated resorts
* Golf courses
* Marinas on the numerous islands
* Wellness centres and spas, Greece has over 700 natural thermal springs
* Convention centres
* Agro and eco tourism projects on the spectacular mainland or on designated islands

Cyprus to cut heating fuel tax September 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Energy.
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Cyprus plans to cut the tax on heating fuel to buffer consumers with minimal energy options from high prices of crude on world markets, the island’s Finance Minister said yesterday.

The move will cost the state an estimated 10 million Cyprus pounds ($24.3 million) and is an addition to a social spending package worth an estimated 111.4 million Cyprus pounds announced by authorities in July.

“The government could not remain indifferent to the situation evolving on international markets, and this move was permissible in terms of our fiscal situation,” Finance Minister Michalis Sarris said.

The move only applies to tax on heating fuel, which will fall to 7.3 cents a liter from 11.3 cents. Cuts in heating bills had been a longstanding demand of residents of mountain regions. Oil prices have fallen since hitting a record high of $83.90 a barrel last Thursday, fueled by worries of a US Gulf storm that later fizzled, the weakening US dollar and a cut in key US interest rates.

Cypriot authorities had introduced a one-off cut in heating tax in 2005, but Sarris said the new arrangement would be permanent. “Our taxes are generally lower than many other countries in the European Union,” he said.

The government, which faces general elections in February, has in recent years slashed deficits by tighter controls on spending and revenue to shore up the economy for eurozone admission in January. It forecasts a budget deficit of 1 percent of gross domestic product in 2007, and expects to halve that in 2008.

Cyprus is heavily reliant on fossil fuels for its energy needs, with power generation from renewable sources of energy less than 1 percent of total production.

Greece’s Terna to build mall in Bulgaria’s Sofia September 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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Greek construction company Terna said that it has been chosen to build a shopping and office mall in Sofia, Bulgaria, worth 122.8 million euros, which it expects will be completed by the end of 2009.

The project called “Hermes Park Sofia” will be constructed on a plot of about 54,000 square meters belonging to Carrefour Bulgaria and will consist of a multi-functional shopping and entertainment centre with an office complex.

Terna said there will be three levels of underground car parking spaces and open air parking spaces for visitors. The office complex will consist of five buildings of various sizes, the company added.