A couple of years ago the mayor of Tilos, a small Greek island in the southern Aegean, married two gay couples. And found himself at the centre of a great hullabaloo. You see, although Greece is still part of the European Union and although everyone knows that homosexuality was (many years ago) an acceptable part of Greek culture, and even though it’s widely accepted that most Greek men are at least bisexual, it is still illegal to be married to someone of the same sex in Greece, the cradle of civilisation.
Actually it’s not illegal, but it is not legal either – the law is vague and there is a loophole, which is how come the Tilos mayor married the couples. And also how come he was then arrested. The church was up in arms, and the fall out was on the scale of a Greek tragedy. The current government, the left wing PASIOK administration had been trying to get civil partnerships through on the policy agenda when they were the opposition. But since taking power they’ve still not done anything about it. They’ve got too much to worry about with the country’s economy no doubt. And while all that’s going on, there are couples who would love to marry in the country but can’t.
So what’s to be done? Well, two writers have come up with the answer and it takes the form of a film.
‘Shocking the Donkeys’ by writers Jack Rousseau and James Collins is a screenplay and has been picked up by an independent British Film company, who are hoping to film it in 2011. To be a little more precise, it’s a comedy of manners, with a cast of stunning Greek guys and old ladies. The plot centres around a traditional Greek yaya (grandmother) whose only grandson lives in America. She is delighted to learn that he is returning to his home island of Kalados to get married and sets about putting everything in place; the wedding dress, the church arrangements, the reception, the banns, the paperwork, and she gets the whole village behind her. As the boat pulls in, bearing her grandson and his intended, she brings the villagers down to meet them… and discovers that the ‘bride to be’ is actually another man.
That’s where the comedy really kicks in as the main character, the yaya, does everything she can to a) get the boyfriend off the island and b) turn her gay grandson straight. But does she succeed? Well, I’m not going to spoil the plot for you, but you can rest assured there are going to be tears and laughter along the way.
I checked out the official blog for this movie project which I found at symidream.com/movie and learned quite a lot. Not only is the blog kept up to date with what’s happening with the project, but there are interesting tips for screenplay writers there too. You get a good insight into the process of writing and it’s not as straightforward as you might think. On this project the writers spent seven months planning and building the structure of the plot. Writing movies is all about structure you see, there are many levels to a script, things that went on before the story, and what’s going on underneath what’s being said and shown is just as important as what the audience sees. More important some would say.
After seven months of writing, after kicking up a storm in the Greek press (Collins has given several published interviews and been on radio programmes to be asked to explain what this film is all about), the writers now have a completed script which the production company has for consideration.
But will a comedy about a gay wedding in Greece change the law? Probably not on its own, but if it goes a little way to raising awareness, and gives us some laughs, and shows us some sexy Greek guys along the way, then we’ll be more than happy.