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Thessaloniki Film Festival - Greece

by Alex deleon, Cracow, November 14, 2007

PHOTO: John Sayles holding his Golden Alexander Aloft



The 48th Installment of the Thessaloniki Film Festival will take place in Greece's Second City from November 16 - 25, 2007. Thessaloniki, also known by the shorter name of "Salonika" is next to Athens the largest city in Greece and, in many ways, a more cosmopolitan city in terms of non-Greek ethnic minorities and foreign influences.

Although this festival is not usually mentioned in the same breath with better known second echelon "biggies" such as Locarno, Karlovy Vary, Rotterdam, or Gotheborg, it is nevertheless on much the same scale and attracts a similar contingent of international film celebrities. Part of the reason for Thessaloniki's relative obscurity is perhaps due to the fact that the Greek cinema is all but unknown in western Europe and, except for a handful of names such as the late Melina Mercouri (of "Never on Sunday" fame), Costa-Gavras, (of "Z" fame) long resident in France, and, perhaps, Theo Angelopoulos whose ponderous art films appear regularly at certain major festivals, there is no Greek celebrity list to speak of on the international scene.


Consider that even a major Greek subject like "Zorba the Greek" based on iconic Greek writer, Katzanzakis, was played by a Hollywood star, Anthony Quinn, and that the same actor also portrayed Aristotle Onassis in another non-Greek film on a very Greek subject. Opera Prima Donna Assoluta, Maria Callas, the other most famous Greek of the past century, has also been played by non-Greeks (most recently, a marvellous portrayal by Fanny Ardant of France). Perhaps it's time for the Greeks to start putting their own celebrities on celluloid.

That the scale of the TIFF is far from second-rate is, however, quite obvious simply from the sheer number of films to be shown and the countries represented: two hundred and thirty films (features and shorts), representing 40 national origins. Nor is this festival a "Johnny-come-lately" on the festival scene, with forty-seven previous editions already in the bag. The celebrity guest list this year includes American director John Sayles (to be honored with a retrospective), Actors Chris Cooper and David Strathairn (Oscar near-miss, 2006, for "Good Night and Good Luck)", John Malkovitch, Danny Glover, and French-Greek director Constantine Costa-Gavras.


The opening and closing films are usually an indicator as to tenor of the festival itself -- in this case "My Blueberry Nights" by Wong-Kar-Wai will be the opening film on November 16th and the closer on November 25th will be Wes Anderson's "The Darjeeling Limited". With Anderson having such hits as "The Royal Tenenbaums" in his bag, and Wang, a regular at Cannes and all the other major festivals, these might be called middle to heavy-weight "bookenders". "Darjeeling Limited" top-lines Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwarzman and is a drama set in india. "Blueberry Nights' is a romantic drama starring Norah Jones, Jude Law, David Strathairn and Nathalie Portman. As for what comes in between ....
Alex, on the road to Hellas --



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About AlexDeleon

Deleon Alex

THE FESTIVALS BLOG by Alex Deleon. Watch for festival coverage from the circuit.

Ambiance and reviews from the hot spots. Welcoming your comments too.

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