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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. 



THE FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD at TIFF...An ecumenical review!








 photo still from 'THE FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD' (2011) 

THE FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD (2011) screened last week at the 52nd Thessaloniki Film Festival (TIFF) 2011. Director Joshua Marston once again impresses audiences with his one-of-a-kind filmic verisimilitude. Similar to his international hit MARIA FULL OF GRACE (2004), which was filmed in Columbia and in Columbian Spanish with English subtitles, this globe-trotting American does the same with FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD, using local talent (the main actors from Albania- Tristan Halilaj and Sindi Laçej) and filming it in the local language, Albanian. Going against the grain of his fellow Americans who have shown the world their collective disinterest to read subtitled films (much less direct and produce subtitled films) Marston has surprisingly struck a chord once again and has yet received critical acclaim for this his latest work. The film picked up the Silver Bear Award at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival for Best Screenplay and Prize of the Ecumenical Jury.

FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD is a drawn-out poetic suspense story about a teen-aged boy, Nik, and his sister, Rudina, as they come to grips with the paradox of life in a modern world in an ancient land. In the main city, life is like anywhere else, with rampant internet and technology, where things are changing daily through mass information and globalization. But in Albanian village life, things have changed little over the centuries where beliefs like ‘an eye for an eye’ makes up a significant part of the local moral code, where antique blood feuds are still part of every day reality.

They say a film is in the title and here I would have to agree. The title alone draws attention to the story at hand. Blood has been spilt, but will Forgiveness be an option? Not from what we know about the endless vendetta. When one man’s blood is spilt, someone from the other side must pay. And in this film, that someone is the young teenager Nik. The film offers a glimpse into the realities of contemporary Albania as it races forward with dizzying globalization and yet continues to cling onto its past for dear life. Marston has a knack for going into the countries with the toughest to break stereotypes (Columbia with its cocaine cartels and drug trafficking mules and Albania with its notorious blood feuds and vendettas) and puts a face to these widely known yet misunderstood social dilemmas. With subtlety and passion, Josh Marston manages to get to the core of the vulnerable and complicated truths of such problems and in so doing, breaks down walls and opens minds, with the universal and enduring language of cinema.

-written by Vanessa McMahon, November 21, 2011


Director Josh Marston 


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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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