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Thessaloniki 48 ready to start

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 "Saloniki" 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.  Situated on the Thessaly extension of the Greek mainland, at the crossroads of Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria and Macedonia and boasting the busiest Greek port in the area astride the Agean Sea, Thessaloniki has long been home to large colonies of Turks, Armenians, Sephardic Jews (community wiped out in WW II) and all kinds of other merchant communities, and is second only to Istanbul as a mercantile center of the region. 
Although this festival is not usually mentioned in the same breath with better known second line  "biggies" such as Locarno, Karlovy Vary, Rotterdam, or Gotheburg, 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 Melina Mercouri (of "Never on Sunday" fame) and, perhaps, Theo Angelopoulos, whose generally heavyweight 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, who also portrayed Aristotle Onassis in another non-Greek film on a very Greek subject. Opera Diva Assoluta, Maria Callas, the other most famous Greek of the past century has also been played by non-Greeks (most recently, a marvelous 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.  Nearly one thousand guests are expected to be present this year, including the creative teams from the films presented in the various sections of the event, as well as 90 foreign film critics and journalists plus their local counterparts.  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 15th and the closer on November 25th will be Wes Anderson's "The Darjeeling Limited".  With Anderson having such hits as "The Royal Tenenebaums" in his bag, and Wang, a regular at Cannes and all the other biggies, 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 Deleon, on the road to Hellas --


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