Faces of the Greek crisis - six interviews in Thessaloniki. Part 1

Yiannis Zachopoulos, founder and manager of Thessaloniki International Short Film Festival (TISFF), in his video club AZA.
Yiannis, let's start with a hypothetical question: If you were in a position to turn the "big wheel", what would you do or suggest the Greek society/political leadership should do?
I wish I had magical powers and could use them to make Greek people act more collectively. Most people show their worst self in this period of crisis. I believe that the source of all problems is the lack of respect for other people - and even for yourself. But citizens who live in a democracy must, above all, show respect for each other and for the country’s laws. Unfortunately, this happens very rarely in Greece.

How does the economical crisis affect your daily life?
The crisis has surely affected me, although in our business, it has started long ago, because of the emergence of internet piracy and free downloads. Now, the worst thing in this crisis is that you live in constant worry and agony and anxiety, thinking how you are going to pay your monthly bills and taxes. And all this is getting more intense when you think of the future of young people. No light at the end of the tunnel, except perhaps a train coming to run over you.

What do or did you do in order to accommodate with the current situation?
You can't do much in this situation. I just tried to make some offers to my customers: if you rent two DVDs, I give you the third for free. Just a regular promotion. Or four films of the same director for the price of two. (smiles) My slogan for this is: “Celebrate your own film festival at home”.

How do you see the Greek situation presented by the media in Germany?
Sometimes I read things that I just cannot believe. I ended up not trusting the media in general anymore, both local and international. There is just too much corruption, for business and political reasons.

What would you tell the average German visitor about the situation in your country and your personal situation?
If you go on vacation to Florida and you like it, it doesn’t mean that all Americans have a good life. What I'm trying to say is: I would tell them that I am worried about the future of our country. I am not against the reforms, we should have done them decades ago. Problems arise, however, if we try to apply them wrongly. I would love to see the 300 politicians in our parliament work as a team to save the country - wishful thinking.

Have you lost any financial assets because of the crisis?
I never had assets or properties, so nothing to lose. Of course I had to sell my car in order to pay the bills.

Yiannis Zachopoulos studied Physics at Grinnell College and Electrical Engineering at Columbia University (USA). After some years abroad he returned to Greece and decided to run his own business, established the AZA cinema club and founded the Thessaloniki International Short Film Festival, now in its 7th year.