Renos Haralambidis

Photo: Labros Roumeliotakis

by Andrew Horton

The Jeanne H Smith Professor of Film & Media Studies, Emeritus
University of Oklahoma

Throughout his nearly 30-year career, Renos Haralambidis has represented a new generation of Greek filmmakers who have been making playful contemporary films which blur the boundaries between real life and fiction, and which are made, as the title of his 1997 award-winning hit film, No Budget Story suggests, for almost no money at all.

He began his career with a wide variety of media-related jobs. Stage, television and advertising roles multiplied, including work at the popular Omada Theama theater, in ancient plays such as Oedipus Rex at Epidavros, and in Greek soap operas such as Sophia Orthei in which he played a fashion photographer’s assistant.

In 1994 he won an acting award from the Drama International Short Film Festival for his role in The Adventures of a Young Man Who Is Looking for Advice on his First Date. From 1995-1998, he starred in seven short films. These films were clearly his film school period, for they explore themes and situations which he would later re-examine in No Budget Story. These include attempted, but failed, new love (Between Cities); the mixing of fantasy and reality that appear surreal (Recital and The Foreigner); and confusion of characters mixed up in some way with a crime (To Begin With, My Name is Not Goofy). He also starred in the popular 1997 feature film Paterfamilias (1997) and in Black Milk (1998).

He made his feature film debut as writer and director with No Budget Story (1997). With this film, he introduced digital technology to Greek cinema, filming with a digital camera. He won the state award for first-time director, and the film won the FIPRESCI international critics’ award and attracted the attention of international critics.

His second feature film as writer and director, Cheap Smokes (1999), has proved to be timeless and continues to be shown in Athens theaters. In 2021, the National Lyric Stage in Athens presented a musical performance, directed by the ballet director Konstantinos Rigos, based on the film.

His third feature film, The Heart of the Beast (2004), belongs to a rare genre for Greek cinema, romantic comedy-cop caper. Based on the best-selling book by Petros Tatsopoulos, the film garnered great reviews and continues to stream on movie platforms.

His fourth film, Four Black Suits (2010), represented Greece at the European Academy of Cinema and won the Audience Award at the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival. The film score, which Renos composed, was performed at the Megaro Mousikis in Athens in May 2022.

Overall, Renos’s films have captured the blurred boundaries between reality and imagination with sharp wit and a gentle sense of acceptance of life in contemporary Athens, an acceptance that transforms the fragmentation of his stories and the world around him into a unified tale of untold possibilities in the simple pleasures of life. 

Finally, it should be noted that while Renos does not use his films as direct political commentary, they do reflect echoes of what is happening throughout Greece. 

As noted, Renos plays Greek men who are broke, struggling to find a paying career and surviving through many difficult elements of Athenian and Greek culture reflected in each of his films. Thus, his films resonate with Greek audiences that appreciate how realistic his films are, even when they come up with carnivalesque plots touching on humor.

Renos is currently completing his fifth feature film, The Night Announcer, which will be released in 2024.