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Thessaloniki to offer a tribute to master THEO ANGELOPOULOS

The Thessaloniki International Film Festival, wishing to honor the memory of celebrated Greek auteur Theo Angelopoulos, who passed away in January of 2012, organizes a tribute to his work. Angelopoulos was born in Athens in 1935 and studied Law in the University of Athens and the Sorbonne, from which he dropped out to study cinema in the University of Paris IDHEC. He started his career as a film critic and made his first –unfinished– film, Forminx, in 1965. Throughout his life, Angelopoulos was the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including Chevalier de la Legion d' Honneur by the President of the French Republic (1992), Officier de l' Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the Centre National de la Cinematographie Department of Arts and Letters, France (1996) and Doctor Honoris Causa from the University of Rome, Italy (2008).

The tribute will be comprised by the screening of three of his landmark films, The Travelling Players (1975), Voyage to Cythera (1984) and Landscape in the Mist (1988), as well as a round table discussion on his exceptional career. Several of Angelopoulos’ regular collaborators will participate in the discussion, providing an insider’s view on the way the director prepared and shot his films (names TBA at a later date).

In addition, the Festival also organizes a concert with Angelopoulos’ regular composer Eleni Karaindrou and singer Dimitra Galani. Karaindrou, who has collaborated with filmmakers such as Chris Marker and Jules Dassin and is the founder of the Laboratory for Traditional Instruments in Greece, has composed the soundtracks for Angelopoulos’ films since 1984 and Voyage to Cythera. They worked together on all his films since then, forging a unique bond and creating a powerful and lyrical connection between the director’s images and Karaindrou’s atmospheric, transcendent melodies. Finally, an edition dedicated to Theo Angelopoulos’ work, originally published by the Thessaloniki International Film Festival in 2000, will be republished with the addition of new texts.

Theo Angelopoulos’ cinema is entirely his own. He became known for his distinctive visual style, his long and poetic tracking shots and spellbinding allegorical narratives, as well as his preoccupation with 20th-century Greek history and politics. «Angelopoulos once said that we are destined to work with our obsessions: we don’t make only one film, we don’t write only one book. His obsessions, in time, became our own. His films became a part of our collective memory. His life’s work will remain with us, a priceless treasure from a great man and filmmaker», states TIFF Director Dimitri Eipides.


THE TRAVELLING PLAYERS (O Thiassos, 1975, Greece, 230’)

The Traveling Players, filmed in Greece during the military junta, recount the story of a family of itinerant actors that traverses Greece from 1939 to 1952, attempting to stage the bucolic folk play “Golfo the Shepherdess”. The convoluted political history of Greece and the internal politics of the theatrical family become intricately interconnected, playing out on a canvas of significant historical events: the beginning of WWII, the Italian invasion and German occupation, the Greek liberation, the arrival of the British and American allies, the bloody civil war and, finally, the right-leaning elections of 1952. Despite the references to the tragic Greek myths of the House Atreides, Angelopoulos himself has stated that his approach towards his story “is not mythical but dialectical”. Indeed, there is a dexterous discourse at play, between past and present, between fiction and reality and between content and representation. Sprawling and masterful, The Traveling Players established Angelopoulos internationally as a master of his craft.

Selected Awards: FIPRESCI Award – Cannes IFF, Interfilm Award - Berlin IFF, Sutherland Trophy - British Film Institute, Best Film, Best Director & Best Screenplay - Thessaloniki IFF, Grand Prix of the Arts – Japan, FIPRESCI 40th Best Film in the History of Cinema

VOYAGE TO CYTHERA (Taxidi sta Cythera, 1984, Greece, 137’)

The first film of the director’s Trilogy of Silence (along with The Beekeeper and Landscape in the Mist), Voyage to Cythera again seamlessly interweaves personal experience with historical account, at the same time exploring the corrosive legacy of the Greek civil war. Alexandros, a film director, is weary from searching for the ideal actor for his next film; he’s looking at faces of old men, reciting the line “I’m here”. In the port of Piraeus, off a vast ship, comes Spyros, Alexandros’ father, an exile returning to his country after 32 years in the Soviet Union. His middle-aged children do not understand him and he does not understand them. Bitter and despondent, Spyros, a relic of Greece’s leftist past, is cast adrift in a symbolic voyage to the island of Cythera: the birthplace of Aphrodite, where one can guiltlessly seek for happiness; his companion to the end, his old and faithful wife, a Penelope for an Odysseus who can only find his home in the past.

Selected Awards: Best Screenplay - Cannes IFF, FIPRESCI Award - Cannes IFF, Critics Award - Rio IFF

LANDSCAPE IN THE MIST (Topio stin omichli, 1988, Greece/France/Italy, 125’)

Two young siblings, 5-year-old Alexandros and 11-year-old Voula, visit a train platform every night, to watch a train leaving for Germany. Their mother, a non-presence in the film, has misled them to believe that their absent father lives there; one night, the children decide to embark on a train to find him, believing that Greece and Germany share a common border. Their journey in the Greek countryside is harsh, the landscapes empty and heartless, the people callous. Alexandros and Voula even meet The Traveling Players during their journey; they are relics of a bygone era. The children’s quest is one of a mythical father -a larger-than-life notion- and of an ethos that seems to not exist anymore. The film ends as it started, with a story from Genesis: “In the beginning there was chaos”.

Selected Awards: Silver Lion for Best Director - Venice IFF, FIPRESCI Award – Venice IFF, Silver Hugo Award for Best Director - Chicago IFF, Silver Plaque for Best Cinematography - Chicago IFF, Felix Award for Best European Film

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