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Thessaloniki International Film Festival

Dailies from the Thessaloniki international Film Festival

The 61st Thessaloniki International Film Festival was concluded with great success, receiving the audience’s love in every possible way. More than 80,000 viewers and movie industry professionals watched the films and attended the Festival’s online events, whereas a large number films of were sold out. Agora, the Festival’s development branch, also achieved a great attendance, offering support to Greek cinema through a series of new initiatives, actions, and awards.

The 61st Festival hosted a series of exhibitions and visual art events, within the framework of TIFF’s main concept, “Intimacy: a modern tyranny”. Works of art, video mapping, as well as The Glasshouse Project installation adorned the city streets and squares, as well as the Port of Thessaloniki, offering glimpses of joy and hope to the city’s residents, who had the chance to enjoy a touch of art during their scarce walks for exercise, groceries and the covering of basic needs, amidst these hard days we’re experiencing. The goal is for these exhibitions to remain in the city’s public space even after the Festival. 



Closing night at TIFF


The film 'Black Swan' closed the night.

51st TIFF: Closing ceremony (12/12/2010)
The closing ceremony of the 51st Thessaloniki International Film Festival

The curtains came down on the 51st Thessaloniki International Film Festival on Saturday, December 11th, with a closing ceremony that took place at Olympion Theater. Snapshots, faces and clips of the city during this 10-day cinematic feast were depicted in the short film of Emmanouil Papadopoulos entitled Stereosis, which welcomed the audience in the opening of the ceremony.

The Thessaloniki International Film Festival Director, Dimitri Eipides pointed out that, despite difficult circumstances, the audience supported the 51st Festival by filling up the cinema halls. “I would like to thank my collaborators, our volunteers, everyone who worked hard to make this year’s Festival a reality. We made it all the way to the curtain call of a cinematic feast, in spite of the many obstacles. The audience supported the Festival, as the cinema halls were packed and many spectators were even forced to seat on the steps. This was a challenge won, as these times do not permit any waste of money or luxuries. The films were our top priority, as we lowered the price of the ticket, we reached out to the unemployed, to the young people who are tomorrow’s voice. The audience embraced our initiatives, as well as our choices. At this point, I would like to briefly outline some statistics. This year, 157 films were screened and 79,800 tickets were available. The occupancy rate in cinema halls reached 77%, while it climbed to an impressive 91% for the International Competition films and the Special Screenings. Mr. Eipides went on to thank the sponsors, as well as everyone who supported the Festival. He concluded by reminding that the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, which will be held from 11 to 23 March 2011, will be actively involved in the Program of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, “Thessaloniki, Crossroad of Cultures”.

Following Mr. Eipides’ speech, the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Pavlos Geroulanos, congratulated the people who worked for the Festival, “who showed in the best possible way that the quality of work depends on people”. Mr. Geroulanos pointed out that the Festival, having accumulated very heavy debts right after its 50th birthday, faced the danger of not blowing 51 candles. “In difficult times, the Festival’s organizers found the motivation to work. They did a lot more by spending a lot less and managed to maintain the Festival’s standards at a high level, not seen for a long time”. The Minister went on to praise Mr. Eipides, who did not lose his faith in the importance of this institution to the city, activated its dormant forces and succeeded in convincing that any vision can become a reality. As he specifically said, this year’s Festival proved that luxury does not necessarily add quality. As he referred to the participation of Greek films in this year’s Festival, Mr. Geroulanos remarked that the return of Greek directors to their natural place of expression contributed to the change of climate. “On Monday, December 13th, the new law bill will be brought before the Parliament. I would like to hope that it will be voted by the majority of the parties. I would also like to make it clear that this bill does not intend to exclude any director. The Minister of Culture and Tourism announced an immediate financial aid to the Festival, so as to guarantee its survival. “The times are not easy, but if we listen carefully, we will take notice of a change. If we wish to ensure quality, we have to ensure the fertile soil for its cultivation, as well”, he concluded.

Shortly before the awards were announced, the female band from Thessaloniki, Electric String Quartet Fortissimo, stepped on the stage to perform all-time famous film scores.

The event opened with the FISCHER Audience Awards, which were conferred by the Brand P.R. Manager and the Senior Brand Manager of the Athenian Brewery, Ms. Amalia Trifylli and Mr. Yorgos Makrygiannakis. The FISCHER Audience Award for the International Competition, which is accompanied by a 3,000 Euro purse, was bestowed on the film Apnea, directed by Ari Bafalouka. The director thanked the audience, as well as his collaborators, as he mentioned that cinema is a fruit of collective work. The FISCHER Audience Award for Greek Films, which is accompanied by a 3,000 Euro purse, was bestowed on the film Nobody, directed by Christos Nikoleris. The director thanked the audience, everyone who contributed to the film, ERT, the Greek Film Center and Village Films, because, as he explained, the current circumstances make the distribution of Greek films difficult. The FISCHER Audience Award for the Open Horizons section, which is accompanied by a 2,000 Euro purse, was conferred on the film A Somewhat Gentle Man, directed by Hans Petter Moland, while the FISCHER Audience Award for the Balkan Survey section, which is accompanied by a 2,000 Euro purse, was granted to the film Cirkus Colombia, directed by Danis Tanovic. The Head of the Section, Dimitris Kerkinos, received the award on behalf of the director.

Right after the FISCHER Awards, the Award of the Greek Film Critics Association (PEKK) was conferred. The President of the Association, Mr. Andreas Tyros stepped on the stage and referred to the reasons that led the Association not to bestow awards on Greek movies, as not all Greek directors participated in this year’s Festival. “Twenty years ago, we proposed the internationalization of the Festival and we were heard. Ten years ago, we found ourselves marginalized by people who act behind the scenes, victims of closed-group mentality. Now that the Festival’s international character has been established, state awards are simply not granted. PEKK requests that the continuity of the Festival is ensured, in the city that made this institution known and supported it”, said Mr. Tyros. He went on to say that: “This year, after a pause of mediocrity, a quality rise is recorded in the International Competition section, through the movies of a young, restless and independent cinema, as well as through the awakening of countries, such as Turkey with Zephyr and Poland with Erratum. Romania is an example to follow, so this year, PEKK has decided to bestow its award on the film Periferic, directed by Bogdan George Apetri.

The awards of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) were next and the President of the FIPRESCI Jury, Ms. Annika Gustafsson noted a “rise in the artistic quality of the films, in comparison with the previous years”. She went on to confer the FIPRESCI award for the International Competition on the film Morgen, directed by Marian Crisan. Tassos Retzios granted the FIPRESCI award for Greek Films to the film Apnea, directed by Ari Bafalouka, for its narrative originality, letting everyone know though, that the Jury had not seen the entire body of Greek film production.

The Municipality of Thessaloniki confers the “Cinema and the City” award on a film that highlights the connection between the seventh art and the urban city landscape and places emphasis on the city landscape contribution to the artistic result, as well as on its role in cinema. This year, the Deputy Mayor for Cultural and Youth Affairs, Mr. Vassilis Gakis bestowed the award on the film Jo for Jonathan, directed by Maxime Giroux. Mr. Pantelis Petmezas, Honorary Consul of Canada in Thessaloniki received the award, which is accompanied by a 10,000 Euro purse, on behalf of the director and expressed the hope to see Greek-Canadian co-productions in the future.

The Hellenic Parliament “Human Values” award was bestowed by the Thessaloniki deputy, Ms. Chryssa Arapoglou, on the film Los Labios, directed by Ivan Fund and Santiago Loza. The film was chosen by the Jury, as “it skillfully combines fiction and documentary and stresses the importance of humanity, collectivity and solidarity to those who are forced to live in conditions of misery and poverty”. Lefteris Adamidis, Artistic Director of the “Independence Days” section received the award, which was granted for the sixth consecutive year to a film of his section and this year is accompanied by a 7,500 Euro purse.

The International Competition Jury Awards marked the curtain call for the closing ceremony. Only four of the five Jury members stepped on the stage, as Mohamed Al-Daradji had left Thessaloniki a few hours ago. Michel Demopoulos thanked Mr. Eipides for entrusting him the honorary post of the President of the Jury and pointed out that the Festival remains vigorous, that it will not succumb to the crisis blows and that it will endure thanks to its enthusiastic audience. “I am very happy to be here, after five years of absence. Over the last days, I had the chance to breathe the air of an institution we managed to build through the years”, said Mr. Demopoulos.

The Artistic Achievement Award was granted to the film Zephyr by Belma Bas by the newly elected Mayor of Thessaloniki, Mr. Yannis Mpoutaris. Mr. Cevahir Akdemir, Turkey’s Vice-Consul in Thessaloniki, received it on behalf of the director.

The Best Actress Award was conferred on Ana Ulari for her interpretation in the film Periferic by Bogdan George Apetri. The Jury member Martin Schweighofer granted the award and the film’s director, who received on behalf of Ana Ulari, revealed that he was very lucky, as he found his protagonist on the last day of the auditions.

The Best Actor Award was conferred ex aequo on Andreas Hathazi and Yilmaz Yalcin for their interpretation in the film Morgen by Marian Crisan. The Jury member Behrooz Hashemian granted the award and the film’s director received on behalf of the protagonists.

The Jury member Scandar Copti granted the Best Screenplay Award to Marek Lechki for Erratum. Another Polish director, Dorota Kedzierzawska, who received the award on behalf of Marek Lechki, praised his film and thanked the Festival for honoring her, as well as for the warmth hospitality.

Evangelos Giannakakis, Chief Director of the commercial branch of the OPAP S.A. bestowed the Best Director Award on Marian Crisan for his film Morgen. The director expressed his joy, as well as his surprise, as he did not expect such an honor.

The ERT Managing Director, Lampis Tagmatarhis, granted the Special Jury Award for Innovation and Originality – Bronze Alexander (5,000 Euros) to the film Jean Gentil by Laura Amelia Guzmán and Israel Cárdenas, who couldn’t hide their joy over this award.

State Deputy Magia Tsokli then stepped on the scene to bestow the Special Jury Award – Silver Alexander on the film Attenberg by Athena Rachel Tsangari. Magia Tsokli pointed out that: “Dimitri Eipides and his collaborators need to be congratulated, as they did a terrific work under difficult conditions. It was an interesting year for cinema, for the Festival, as well as for Thessaloniki, as an optimistic ambiance is remarked”. On her part, the director thanked the Jury and Mr. Eipides for a Festival “not at all wasteful but truly generous. This award does not belong to me, but to everyone who worked for this film, to my actors, my producers and above all, to Greek cinema”.

Finally, the Thessaloniki International Film Festival Director, Dimitri Eipides granted the Best Feature Film Award – Golden Alexander (20,000 Euros) to the film Periferic by Bogdan George Apetri.

The closing ceremony came to its end with the screening of the film Black Swan, directed by Darren Aronofsky, as the Festival and its audience promised to meet again next year.

Pavlos Geroulanos, Minister of Culture and Tourism, Spyros Vougias, Deputy Minister of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks, Yannis Magkriotis, Deputy Minister of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks, Alexis Tsipras, President of the Parliamentary Group of SYRIZA, Tassos Kourakis, Vice-President of the Hellenic Parliament, Lampis Tagmatarhis, Managing Director of ERT, Evangelos Giannakakis, Chief Director of the commercial branch of OPAP S.A., Magia Tsokli, State Deputy, Chryssa Arapoglou, Thessaloniki Deputy, Yorgos Papalios, President of the Greek Film Center, Markos Cholevas, Vice-President of the Greek Film Center, Georgandreas Zannos, member of the ERT Board of Directors, Vassilis Gakis, Deputy Mayor for Cultural and Youth Affairs, Cevahir Akdemir, Vice-Consul of Turkey, Pantelis Petmezas, Honorary Consul of Canada, Maria Tsakali, Consul of Great Britain, Nikos Margaropoulos, Consul of the Philippines, Xanthippe Heupel, President of the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, Maria Tsantsaloglou, Director of the State Museum of Contemporary Art, Polyxeni Veleni, Director of the Archaeological Museum, Igor Sybiga, Consul of Ukraine, Penelope Serdari, President of the Opera of Thessaloniki, Marianna Vildiridi, President of the Folklore Museum, Julien Chiappone-Lucchesi, Director of the French Institute, Vangelis Ioakimidis, Director of the Thessaloniki Photography Museum, Katerina Koskina, President of the State Museum of Contemporary Art, Yannis Mpoutaris, newly elected Mayor of Thessaloniki, Tassos Mpoulmetis, President of the Greek Film Academy, Charis Papadopoulos, President of the Greek Directors Guild, Yannis Matsikas, President of the “Makedonia” Press Group, were some of the distinguished personalities that honored the event with their presence.

-TIFF press release 


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About Thessaloniki International Film Festival

Industry: CROSSROADS Co-Production Forum,AGORA, script-development BALKAN FUND. Competition for directors with 1st or 2nd films. Golden Alexander Prize 37.000 €

Coverage by Vanessa McMahon, Laurie Gordon



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