Greek cinema has a rich history that spans over a century, with many notable films and directors contributing to its legacy.

From classic works of the 1950s and 1960s to contemporary films that have gained international acclaim, Greek cinema has produced a diverse range of movies that reflect the country’s unique culture, history, and identity.

Some of the most famous Greek films include “Zorba the Greek” (1964) directed by Michael Cacoyannis, “Eternity and a Day” (1998) directed by Theo Angelopoulos, “Dogtooth” (2009) directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, and “Miss Violence” (2013) directed by Alexandros Avranas.

These films have won numerous awards and have been highly praised by audiences and critics alike.

Greek cinema has also been influential in shaping the broader landscape of world cinema, with Greek filmmakers often addressing universal themes and using innovative techniques to tell their stories.

Greek cinema has made important contributions to the art of filmmaking, including the use of long takes, poetic storytelling, and political commentary.

Best Greek Films

In this introduction to the best Greek movies, we will explore some of the most important films in Greek cinema history and their impact on the art of filmmaking. We will examine the unique themes, styles, and techniques that have made Greek cinema an important part of world cinema.

1. Stella (1955)

“Stella” is a 1955 American drama film directed by Claude Binyon and starring Ann Sheridan in the title role.

The film tells the story of a young woman named Stella who comes from a working-class background and aspires to a better life. She moves to a bigger city and becomes involved with a wealthy doctor, Stephen Dallas, played by John Boles.

The film explores themes of class, love, and social mobility. Stella’s relationship with Stephen is complicated by their different social backgrounds, as well as his overbearing mother who disapproves of their relationship.

As Stella tries to adapt to the expectations of high society, she begins to feel torn between her desire for a better life and her loyalty to her roots.

The film was a critical success, with particular praise for Ann Sheridan’s performance as Stella.

The character of Stella was seen as a departure from the traditional female roles of the time, as she was portrayed as a strong and independent woman who refused to be defined by her social status.

The film was also noted for its frank treatment of sexual themes, which was unusual for the time.

Overall, “Stella” is a compelling drama that explores complex themes and features strong performances from its cast. It remains a notable film in the history of American cinema.

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2. O Drakos (1956)

“O Drakos” is a Greek comedy film directed by Nikos Koundouros and released in 1956. The film tells the story of a group of villagers who plot to get rid of their local tyrant, a wealthy and powerful man known as “O Drakos,” who uses his influence to control and exploit the community.


The film is a satire of Greek society and politics in the mid-20th century, and its humor is grounded in the absurdity of the characters’ actions and the juxtaposition of the traditional and modern worlds.

The villagers, for example, use ancient superstitions and folk remedies to try to defeat O Drakos, while at the same time, they embrace modern technology and communication tools to organize their resistance.

The film’s central character, O Drakos, is a larger-than-life figure who embodies the worst excesses of power and corruption. Played with relish by actor Dinos Iliopoulos, O Drakos is both comical and menacing, a figure who elicits both fear and laughter from his fellow villagers.

“O Drakos” is considered a classic of Greek cinema, and its enduring popularity reflects its relevance to contemporary Greek society, which continues to grapple with issues of corruption, inequality, and political power.

The film’s message that ordinary people can band together to challenge the abuses of the powerful remains a powerful and resonant one.

o drakos (1956) tou nikou koundourou
  • Voutsadaki, Antonia (Author)
  • Greek (Publication Language)
  • 10/03/2023 (Publication Date) - Aigokeros (Publisher)

3. Never on Sunday (1960)

“Never on Sunday” is a Greek comedy-drama film directed by Jules Dassin, released in 1960. The film is notable for its portrayal of the Greek working-class culture, as well as its use of traditional Greek music and dance.

The story follows an American tourist named Homer Thrace, played by Jules Dassin himself, who travels to Greece in search of an authentic cultural experience.

He meets a lively and free-spirited prostitute named Ilya, played by Melina Mercouri, who introduces him to the world of Greek music, dance, and culture.

The film explores themes of cultural identity, morality, and the clash between tradition and modernity.

It is also known for its lively and memorable soundtrack, which features traditional Greek music and songs sung by Melina Mercouri, who became a Greek icon and later served as Greece’s Minister of Culture.

“Never on Sunday” was a critical and commercial success, winning the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Never on Sunday” by Manos Hadjidakis, as well as earning Melina Mercouri a nomination for Best Actress.

The film is considered a classic of Greek cinema and has had a lasting impact on Greek popular culture.

Never on Sunday
  • Melina Mercouri, Jules Dassin, Giorgos Foundas (Actors)
  • Jules Dassin (Director) - Jules Dassin (Writer) - Jules Dassin (Producer)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

4. The Travelling Players (1975)

“The Travelling Players” is a 1975 film directed by Theo Angelopoulos, a Greek filmmaker of Greek and Georgian descent. Although the movie is not technically a Georgian film, it is notable for its strong Georgian influence, as well as its portrayal of the country’s turbulent history.

The movie follows a group of travelling actors as they perform their plays throughout Greece in the years leading up to World War II. Along the way, they encounter the harsh realities of war, political turmoil, and social injustice, which ultimately affects the course of their lives.

The film is notable for its stunning cinematography, which captures the beauty of the Greek countryside, as well as its exploration of the relationship between art and politics.

The movie is deeply rooted in Greek and Georgian history, drawing on the rich cultural heritage of both countries to create a powerful and unforgettable cinematic experience.

Overall, “The Travelling Players” is a must-watch for anyone interested in Georgian or Greek cinema, as well as those interested in the intersection of art and politics.

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5. Rembetiko (1983)

“Rembetiko” is a Greek musical biographical film directed by Costas Ferris, released in 1983.

The film tells the life story of Marika Ninou, one of the most famous and influential singers of the Greek blues style of music known as “rembetiko.”

The film is set in Greece from the 1920s to the 1950s, and follows Ninou’s rise to fame, as well as her personal struggles with love, addiction, and poverty.

The film features a rich and evocative soundtrack of rembetiko music, which captures the spirit and history of the genre. It also explores themes of cultural identity, social class, and the impact of political events on the lives of ordinary people.

“Rembetiko” was a critical and commercial success, both in Greece and internationally. It won numerous awards at film festivals around the world, and was Greece’s official submission for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 56th Academy Awards

The film is widely regarded as a classic of Greek cinema and a landmark in the portrayal of rembetiko music and culture.

Rembetiko: Special Edition
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Sotiria Leonardou, Nikos Kalogeropoulos, Michalis Maniatis (Actors)
  • Costas Ferris (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)

6. Voyage to Cythera (1984)

“Voyage to Cythera” is a 1984 Greek drama film directed by Theodoros Angelopoulos. The film tells the story of a Greek political refugee named Spyros who returns to his homeland after many years of living in political exile.

Spyros travels to the island of Cythera, where he hopes to reunite with his wife and children, whom he left behind when he fled the country.

The film explores themes of exile, memory, and identity, as Spyros struggles to come to terms with the changes that have taken place in his absence.

He finds that the island of Cythera has also undergone significant changes, and he feels like a stranger in his own homeland. Through his journey, Spyros reflects on the loss of his past and the uncertain future that awaits him.

“Voyage to Cythera” is known for its poetic and visually stunning cinematography, as well as its use of long takes and slow pacing to create a dreamlike atmosphere. The film was well received by critics and won several awards, including the Grand Prix at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival.

The film is considered a masterpiece of Greek cinema and a landmark in the career of Theodoros Angelopoulos, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest Greek filmmakers of all time.

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7. Dogtooth (2009)

“Dogtooth” is a 2009 Greek drama film directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. The film tells the story of a family that lives in isolation and controls the environment and information to their children to maintain a sense of control over their lives.

The parents have raised their three children in complete seclusion, sheltering them from the outside world and indoctrinating them with a warped view of reality.

The film explores themes of power, control, and the consequences of indoctrination. As the children begin to question their sheltered existence, they start to rebel against their parents and seek out ways to break free from their isolated world.

“Dogtooth” was praised for its unique and thought-provoking premise, as well as its unflinching portrayal of the consequences of parental control and indoctrination.

The film’s use of surreal and disturbing imagery and its unconventional storytelling techniques have also been noted as defining features.

The film received critical acclaim and was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Un Certain Regard prize. It remains a powerful and unsettling exploration of the human psyche and the dark side of control and manipulation.

  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Christos Stergioglou, Michele Valley, Angeliki Papoulia (Actors)
  • Yorgos Lanthimos (Director) - Yorgos Lanthimos (Writer) - Giorgos Lanthimos (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

8. Plato’s Academy (2009)

“Plato’s Academy” is a Greek comedy film directed by Filippos Tsitos and released in 2009. The film tells the story of a group of misfits who form a makeshift community in a run-down building located in the Athens neighborhood of Plato’s Academy.

The film’s central character is Yannis, a middle-aged man who has recently been released from prison and finds himself homeless and without a job.

With nowhere else to go, he joins a group of other outcasts who have set up a makeshift home in an abandoned building near the site of Plato’s Academy, the ancient Greek school of philosophy.

As the group struggles to make ends meet and maintain their precarious existence, they are forced to confront their own weaknesses and limitations.

Through their interactions with one another and with the larger community around them, they begin to question their own values and beliefs and to reevaluate the choices that have led them to their current situation.

“Plato’s Academy” is a poignant and often humorous exploration of the human condition, set against the backdrop of contemporary Greece’s social and economic crisis.

The film’s themes of community, solidarity, and resilience resonate strongly with audiences around the world, and its message that even in the most dire circumstances, there is always hope for redemption and renewal remains as relevant today as it was when the film was released.

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9. Attenberg (2010)

“Attenberg” is a Greek drama film directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari, released in 2010. The film follows a young woman named Marina, played by Ariane Labed, who is trying to navigate her way through the complexities of life, love, and death in a small Greek town.

The film is notable for its unconventional narrative structure and its use of surreal imagery and dreamlike sequences.

It explores themes of sexuality, identity, and relationships, as well as the struggle to come to terms with mortality and the inevitability of death.

Marina is a young woman who is emotionally detached from the world around her, but she begins to question her own existence and her relationships with those around her when her father becomes terminally ill.

She forms a close bond with her best friend Bella, played by Evangelia Randou, who encourages her to explore her sexuality and push the boundaries of her own comfort zone.

“Attenberg” is a visually stunning film, with a focus on natural landscapes and the beauty of the human body. It is also known for its use of dance sequences, which serve as a metaphor for the characters’ emotional states and inner turmoil.

The film received critical acclaim upon its release, and Ariane Labed won the Best Actress award at the Venice Film Festival for her performance. “Attenberg” is considered a modern classic of Greek cinema and has been praised for its unconventional storytelling and its unique visual style.

  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Ariane Labed, Vangelis Mourikis, Evangelia Randou (Actors)
  • Athina Rachel Tsangari (Director) - Athina Rachel Tsangari (Writer) - Athina Rachel Tsangari...
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

10. OXI: An Act of Resistance (2014)

“OXI: An Act of Resistance” is a 2014 documentary directed by Ken McMullen that explores the history and legacy of the Greek resistance movement during World War II.

Although the movie is not a Georgian film, it is notable for its portrayal of the strong bonds between the Greek and Georgian people during this time.

The film centers around the “OXI” (No) Day celebrations in Greece, which commemorate the country’s refusal to surrender to Nazi forces in 1940.

The documentary features interviews with survivors of the resistance movement, as well as historians and scholars who provide insight into the political and social context of the time.

The movie is notable for its exploration of the connections between the Greek and Georgian resistance movements, as well as the broader context of anti-fascist resistance throughout Europe.

The film highlights the bravery and sacrifice of those who fought against oppression and tyranny, and it serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of standing up for one’s beliefs in the face of adversity.

Overall, “OXI: An Act of Resistance” is a must-watch for anyone interested in the history of World War II, the resistance movements of Europe, or the bonds between the Greek and Georgian people. The movie is a powerful testament to the enduring spirit of resistance and resilience in the face of oppression.

Oxi: An Act of Resistance: The Screenplay and Commentary, Including interviews with Derrida, Cixous, Balibar and Negri
  • McMullen, Ken (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 280 Pages - 10/21/2015 (Publication Date) - Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (Publisher)

3 Characteristics of Greek Movies

Greek cinema is a diverse and vibrant art form that has been shaped by the country’s rich history, culture, and traditions. Here are three characteristics that are often associated with Greek movies:

Emphasis on Realism: Greek cinema often explores social and political issues that are relevant to contemporary Greek society. Many Greek films are known for their gritty, realistic portrayals of everyday life, and their ability to capture the complexities of human relationships and emotions.

Strong Visual Style: Greek filmmakers are known for their strong visual sense, and their ability to create striking and memorable images on screen. Many Greek films feature beautiful landscapes and architectural landmarks, as well as vivid colors and contrasts.

Use of Symbolism: Greek cinema often incorporates symbolic and metaphorical elements that reflect the country’s history and culture. Many Greek films draw on ancient myths and legends, as well as Christian symbolism, to explore themes of identity, morality, and the human condition.

These characteristics are not exclusive to Greek cinema, and there is a wide range of styles and genres within the Greek film industry. However, they do reflect some of the unique features of Greek culture and artistic expression that are often found in Greek movies.

3 Reasons To Watch Greek Movies

Unique cultural perspective: Greek cinema provides a unique perspective on Greek culture and society, offering insight into the country’s rich history and traditions. Greek films often explore themes such as family, religion, politics, and identity, providing a nuanced and complex portrayal of Greek life.

Innovative storytelling: Greek cinema is known for its innovative storytelling techniques, including the use of long takes, poetic imagery, and surrealistic elements.

Greek filmmakers often use these techniques to explore complex themes and ideas, creating a cinematic experience that is both intellectually stimulating and emotionally resonant.

International acclaim: Greek cinema has gained international acclaim and recognition, with many Greek films winning awards at major film festivals such as Cannes, Venice, and Berlin.

Greek filmmakers have also been influential in shaping the broader landscape of world cinema, with directors such as Theo Angelopoulos and Yorgos Lanthimos being widely recognized as important figures in the art of filmmaking.

By watching Greek movies, you can gain a deeper understanding of the global cultural and artistic movements that have been shaped by Greek cinema.

Best Greek Films – Wrap Up

Greek cinema has a long and rich history, with a number of notable films that have garnered critical acclaim and international recognition. Here are some of the best Greek movies that are worth checking out:

“Zorba the Greek” (1964) – directed by Michael Cacoyannis, this classic film tells the story of a British writer who travels to Crete and befriends a larger-than-life Greek named Zorba.

“Dogtooth” (2009) – directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, this surreal and thought-provoking film tells the story of a family that raises their children in complete seclusion and indoctrinates them with a warped view of reality.

“Attenberg” (2010) – directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari, this coming-of-age film explores the relationships between a young woman, her father, and a male friend in a small Greek town.

“The Traveling Players” (1975) – directed by Theodoros Angelopoulos, this epic film spans several decades and explores the political and cultural history of Greece through the eyes of a traveling theater troupe.

“A Touch of Spice” (2003) – directed by Tassos Boulmetis, this heartwarming film tells the story of a Greek chef living in Istanbul who reconnects with his childhood sweetheart.

These films represent just a small selection of the best that Greek cinema has to offer, but they offer a glimpse into the rich cultural history and artistic talent of Greece.