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Athens Film Fest will feature two competition sections

Opening Nights Conn-X
September 17 – 28, 2008

The long, scorching summer stretches punishingly ahead. But waiting for the first cool breezes of September is sweeter when you can look forward to the good things to come. And, rest assured, they are coming - the 14th Athens International Film Festival – Opening Nights Conn-X is just around the corner! You know the dates and you know the venues: so meet us again from September 17 - 28 for the ultimate cinematic experience this fall.

As always, we have prepared a selection of some of the best 2008 releases, handpicked for your viewing pleasure. Additionally, the 14th Athens International Film Festival will feature two competition sections. In the main Competition Section, new and promising directors will have the chance to present their work and compete for the Golden Athena award, which comes with a €10,000 cash prize. Following a well-established tradition, this year’s best film will be selected by our European Youth Jury Panel, comprised of film students from all over Europe.

The Music and Film Competition Section needs no introduction. By far the most popular Festival section, it will once again feature a great selection of movies dedicated to music legends. The best film in this category will be picked by an International Jury Panel and will be presented with a second Golden Athena, which also comes with a €10,000 cash prize.

Other sections to look out for include Premiers, featuring some of the best productions to be released next winter, On the Edge, our very own arthouse section for those with a taste for the avant-garde, Special Screenings and Retrospectives for a glimpse into film history. Non-fiction fans will be happy to know that we have a great selection of Documentaries in store for them, while all late birds out there can look forward to some after hours fun with our Midnight Movies Section. Last but not least, don’t miss the Short Premiers ACME for some of the most promising Greek and international directors that are sure to become household names in years to come.

And if these are not enough to wet your appetite, here’s a small sampler of what we’ got in store for you:

Subversiveness; boldness; restlessness; dissent. Any regular viewer will recognize the above as the unmistakable trademarks of the Athens International Film Festival Conn-X. It is no accident then that to open this year’s festival we have chosen a film in a similar mindset. Based on François Bégaudeau’s book of the same title and starring the author as the teacher, Laurent Cantet‘s (Time Out) Palme d’Or winning Entre les Murs (The Class) is a radical portrayal of adolescent turmoil. Set in a multinational junior high in a rough section of Paris, Cantet tracks his real-life students’ attempts to cope with the universal challenges of adolescence, as well as with the marginalization and social inequality taught within and without the schoolrooms.
Entre les Murs is essentially a study of any young person’s struggle to find his place in our turbulent and contradicting times. For adults, this battle is well in the past; it’s the kids’ turn now. So while our teenagers walk grudgingly ahead towards an uncertain future, the 14th Athens International Film Festival will turn the spotlight to the people returning to class this September and try to take a peek into their thoughts and intentions. The Festival is not only interested in presenting the best specimens of contemporary cinema, but also to highlight the trends to come: subversiveness; boldness; restlessness; dissent. These are the building materials of this year’s Special Class Conduct: Poor.

Among the gems of the Class Conduct: Poor Special is the award winning Die Welle (The Wave) by Dennis Gansel. Indignant with his students’ smugness that the world knows better to let fascism happen again, their teacher challenges them to set up an autocratic regime in class. As usual, familiarity breeds contempt and the experiment goes horribly out of control. In real life, however, Die Welle was a critical and commercial triumph, securing 3.8 million tickets within three days and earning the title of one of the most discussed films of the year. Don’t miss the after-screening discussion to share your thoughts and opinions and maybe try a little experiment of your own!
25-year-old Antonio Campos’s directorial debut starts off with an East Coast student accidentally capturing the death of two classmates in the corridors of his school. Highly reminiscent of Gus Van Sant, Afterschool is a gripping exploration of the effects of a tragic –and digitalized at that- event in the small school society, as well as an insightful study of the YouTube generation.
Four Iraqi high school students grab their digital cameras and, under the direction of Ivan O’ Mahoney and Laura Winters, go out into the streets of Baghdad. In a city where bombs may explode at any minute and religious fanatics stage suicide attacks, the daily routine of the four Iraqi boys seem tragically at contrast with the lives of their counterparts in the West. Baghdad High is a touching and surprisingly optimistic documentary about the inner strength of ordinary teenagers facing the extremities of wartime Iraq.
During a long, hot summer, Pierre, a bachelor in his thirties, takes under his wing a none too bright student, Jonas, to help him prepare for his exams. As expected, it is not difficult for the impressionable 16-year-old to fall under the sway of the older man’s worldliness. Élève Libre (Private Lessons) by Belgian director Joachim Lafosse is a praise of experimentation and a witty, humorous but at the same time unnerving account of how the intimacies of authority and the breach of interpersonal boundaries can lead to abuse. Official selection at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight.

Set in Spain and featuring and all-star cast, including Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson, Woody Allen’s Vicky Christina Barcelona explores an intricate love triangle between two tourists and a local painter.

In Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired documentarist Marina Zenovich brings together rare archive material, including footage with Polanski and Sharon Tate and a recent interview with the underage girl that filed the infamous rape charges back in ’78, to compose an in-depth portrait of one of the most revered –and hated- directors of all time.

Also watch out for Il Divo, a witty expose of Italy’s controversial ex-prime minister Giulio Andreotti’s life and his connections with organized crime, made by maverick director Paolo Sorrentino.

For his first feature film From Within, Million Dollar Hotel, Walk the Line and Sideways director of photography Phedon Papamichael moves behind the camera to follow a string of bizarre suicides in a small American community.

Last but not least, Robert Patton-Spurill’s Public Enemy: Welcome to the Terrordome offers a fascinating look into the history of one of the most influential and subversive hip hop bands in history.

Apart from the screenings, viewers will have the chance to discuss these issues with directors and producers, as well as prominent representatives of the Greek political and social arena, in morning masterclasses and the discussions hosted at the Ianos bookstore.

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