Thessaloniki Continues International Selections with Balkan Emphasis for 45th Edition
by Shilpa Mankikar
The International Thessaloniki Film Festival (November 19-28) celebrates its 45th Anniversary in one of Europe's oldest cities, Greece's second largest. Over 160 films will be screened in the city named after Alexander The Great's sister. Over 800 guests are expected to attend, and opening night Friday will feature Alejandro Amenabar's "Mar Adentro." Zhang Yimou's "House of Flying Daggers" will close the film during the awards gala on Sunday, November 28th.
This year's festival will feature homages to Abbas Kiarostami, Victor Erice, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Kostas Sfikas, Slexis Damianos, Manos Zacharias, and Iakovos Kampanelis. There will also be a spotlight on New Argentinean Cinema.
The International Competition section, programmed by festival director Michel Demopoulos, will showcase first or second features by new directors. A seven-member jury will judge sixteen films for the Golden and Silver Alexander Awards, worth $47,000 and $28,000 respectively. FIPRESCI, the Film Critics world-wide body, will also install its own jury.
The New Horizons program, curated by Dimitri Eipides, will offer over 40 films focusing on the "cutting edge" of independent cinema. Selections featured in the Greek Films 2004 section are automatically eligible for the country's National Cinema Awards.
Also on tap is Iranian filmmaker Bahman Ghodabi who will present his San Sebastian 2004 Golden Shell winner "Turtles Can Fly." Polish director Pavel Pwlikowski will return to the fest with "My Summer of Love," while Korean director Kim Ki Duk will present "3 Iron," winner of the Venice 2004 Best Director award. There will also be tributes to Todd Verow, Hirokazu Kore-Eda, and Gotz Spielman.
The Balkan Survey program celebrates its 10th Anniversary this year. The festival will also endow filmmakers with the Balkan Fund, offering seed money to select projects from Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, FYROM (Macedonia), Greece, Romania, Serbia & Montenegro, Slovenia and Turkey, and operates as part of the European Film Fund, along with Dutch Hubert Bals Fund, the Fondazione Monte Cinema Verita, the Goteborg Film Festival Fund, and the Berlinale Film Fund. The short-listed projects will be workshopped from November 24-26 at the Thessaloniki Festival, and will get feedback from the jury of producers and distributors. Christina Kalas, Artistic Director of the Balkan Fund and Fund Coordinator Lucia Rikaki will be presiding over the activities. The top 4 projects will receive $10,000.
The top 10 film fund entries are:
"Snow," writer/director, Aida Begic, producer Elma Tataragic, (Bosnia & Herzegovina)
"International Relations," writers/directors/ Sophia Zornitsa, Petko Spasov, Lyubomir Popov, Dragomir Sholev, producer Nikolay Kirov (Bulgaria)
"The Only Love Affair Hemingway Did Not Write About," writer/director Svetloslav Ovcharov, producer Assen Vladimirov (Bulgaria)
"Sweet Cold Water," writer/director Ruth Platt, producer Darko Stavric (FYROM)
"Oregano Fields," writer Maria Konomis, director/producer Thanos Anastopoulos (Greece)
"The Hedgehog," writer/director/producer Nikos Grammatikos, co-writer Nikos Panayotopoulos (Greece)
"Will You Come?," writer/director/producer Fotini Siskopoulou, co-writer Maria Efstathiadis (Greece)
"Love Fair - Gucha," writer/director Dusan Milic, producer Goran Radakovic (Serbia & Montenegro)
"Baby Photo," writer Andrei Codrescu, director Cristian Mungiu, producer Adriana Solomon (Romania)
"California Dreaming," writer/director/producer Cristian Nemescu (Romania)
"Nowhere," writer/director/producer Predrag Velinovic, (Serbia & Montenegro)
"Hidden Faces," writer/director/producer Handan Ipekci, (Turkey)
[ For more information and a complete line up, please visit http://www.filmfestival.gr/index_uk.htm. ]