Kelly Sarri’s short documentary, “Tax Evasion: A Greek National Sport”, is an award-winning 23-minute revelation on a culture’s attitude toward taxation.
Originally from Greece, Sarri is a Los Angeles based Director and Editor.
Ms. Sarri, How did you decide on the topic of Greek tax evasion for your documentary?
I wanted to explore the issue of my country’s public image from a different perspective. Greece, apart from the beaches and the sun, is also related to corruption. Since most Greeks in the past would consider the Government their ‘enemy’ they used to evade their taxes but nowadays this has become a necessity.
And this is the part of the story that has not been presented or spoken about in any film as of now. I know that it is not usually common for women to get involved with economics but my mother is an economist so in a way I was intrigued by the idea of researching this field.
There Are Two Sides to Every Story
The tax evasion situation in Greece is a phenomenon that caused a lot of conflict between nations and people. Therefore, I decided to show how and why an edgy behavior emerges through a whole nation but from both sides this time.
Please describe your process as you researched the various pieces of your film, such as interviews, B-roll, and music. For example, you’re an editor as well as a director, how does an editing sensibility affect the choices you made regarding visual elements in the film?
I wanted from the beginning to create this humorous vibe but also to give a detailed image of the situation. Therefore, I wanted to interview a variety of different people.
For the B-roll, I wanted to keep this urban aesthetic of the city landscape
Lastly, for music, my choices were based on Mediterranean kind of sounds to keep the local vibe. Being the editor along with the director of my films, the choices I make are affected because I always think what coverage I need to have in post-production.
In this case, I have avoided a lot of potential mistakes while in production. But also I think it affects my decision regarding transitions. I do not only prepare for what happens in the scene but I have always in mind what the previous or the next scene would be about.
How were you able to convince your interviewees to speak openly about tax evasion?
That was a big issue while filming. People did not want to talk about the subject for a lot of reasons. When I suggested to them to speak on camera without their faces showing, it was a lot easier for them to participate.
It took time to find people willing to do it but eventually it happened.
Was there anything particularly shocking that you learned during your research? Conversely, did you find any stories that stood out as funny or ridiculous regarding the lengths that people will go to in avoiding taxes?
The most striking point is that stories like these do not happen only in Greece, but everywhere. Regarding Greece though, the most shocking thing is that people and more specific companies could evade taxes for years and years without being caught.
Do you see any similarities in the way U.S. citizens feel or deal with taxes compared to people in Greece?
Yes, only the fact that they both do not like to pay taxes. But that is universal.
Nobody likes paying taxes!
As nations though, they have completely different approaches.
First of all, the U.S. tax system is more organized and structured than the Greek one. Also, Greeks think of their government as corrupted so there is no trust.
Is there anything else that you’d like to add about Tax Evasion: A Greek National Sport? How many awards has it won to date? Are there plans to premiere it online?
It was an intense experience that I really enjoyed. I “fell in love” with the documentary genre even more. The film has received over fifteen awards and participated in over 50 festivals worldwide so far. The film will be available online soon.
Tax Evasion: A Greek National Sport
It is the journey of a young female director to find out the background of the tax evasion problem in Greece. An alternative approach to the complex issue of taxes. An attempt to explain the mentality of Greek taxpayers and their perspective on tax evasion to a worldwide audience.
Director: Kelly Sarri
Producer: Christine Tsakmaka, Irene Theodoridou
DP: Kelly Sarri, Pantelis Kondylas
Drone footage: Ryan Gargiulo
Editing-Motion Graphics: Kelly Sarri
Production Sound: Alexandros Petsalis
Sound-Post Production: Evan Schaaf
Do you have anything new in the works right now?
Yes, and I am in the process of making this documentary into a feature. I received a lot of positive feedback and interest on the subject that I think it would an interesting venture.
Where can we get more information about you and your upcoming films?
On my website and Instagram page, you can be fully up to date with my upcoming films, projects. Also, most of my projects are available online.
Sarri is an award-winning filmmaker with a demonstrated history of working in the Entertainment industry. Skilled in Directing, Motion Graphics, Editing.
Self-motivated with experience an original visual aesthetic for every project. Kelly Sarri has worked as a director and editor for various production companies.
She has made a variety of short films, music videos, trailers, and promo videos. She is also a judge at Z-Fest festival.
Kelly Sarri holds a BFA in Film Production from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and recently in 2018, completed her MFA in Film and Television Production at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.