Rent a riot

53607146_625491167912622_1976335922878218240_nFor nearly a decade Athens’s Syntagma Square was the country’s theater of war, where Greeks angry at wage and pension cuts protested outside Parliament in a hail of stones and tear gas.

But on Sunday, it was just a theater. Actors replaced anarchists. Extras stood in for riot cops. Everything rang mostly true: roars as protestors charged the police, smoke swirling from fake tear gas, a fire burning in a skip, debris.

It’s so ironic that Greece is trying to make its archaeological sites and pristine beaches the drawcard for film and TV productions when in fact it’s its more recent history as the epicentre of the European financial crisis that is more attractive to film-makers.

Investment is key now to support a recovery after Greece received what the government vowed would be its last bailout loan in August 2018. So fencing off the city’s central square on a sunny long weekend is a small price to pay for the business and publicity a big movie could bring after the bruising austerity of recent years. One of the mock protest banners at the film-shoot read:  “Greece – not for sale”. Ok, but maybe now open for business.