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“The Descendants” and “Martha” Descend Upon Thessaloniki

"The Descendants" and "Martha" Descend Upon Thessaloniki

This year’s Thessaloniki International Film Festival will open with a new film from a TIFF regular and close with the debut of a TIFF newcomer.

“The Descendants,” the new film by Alexander Payne, will screen at the Olympion Theater on November 4th. Payne, who will be in attendance, first appeared at TIFF with 1996’s “Citizen Ruth,” which won the festival’s screenplay award.

The festival will close on November 12th with Sean Durkin’s “Martha Marcy May Marlene.”

The festival will also host a handful of special guests, including “Persepolis” writer and director Marjane Satrapi, who will be presenting the film “Chicken with Plums,” adapted from another of her bestselling graphic novels. Andrew Zvyagintsev will present “Elena,” a family drama centered on an abandoned widow. Also appearing will be Sara Driver, whose 1981 film “You Are Not I” was thought lost for decades until it was discovered intact last year. The restored print first screened this month at the New York Film Festival.

Full Thessaloniki release follows:

The 52nd Thessaloniki International Film Festival announces its Opening and Closing films, to be screened at the opening and closing ceremonies in the Olympion Theater, on Friday the 4th and Saturday the 12th of November respectively.

OPENING FILM – The Descendants by Alexander Payne, 2011, USA

The TIFF has showcased Alexander Payne’s work from its beginnings; his first film, Citizen Ruth (1996), won the Best Screenplay Award at the 1996 TIFF and Payne also attended the Festival in 2004 to present Sideways with great success. His fifth film, The Descendants, has garnered spectacular reviews; indiewire called it “his warmest, most earnest work, if not his best”. A family drama with a sense of humor (Payne’s preferred genre), it stars George Clooney as a wealthy businessman but poor father, whose wife winds up in a coma, an event that will redefine his life.

Alexander Payne will attend the 52nd TIFF from the 4th to the 6th of November. A press screening of the film will also take place on Saturday, the 5th of November at 09:00 at the Olympion Theater and a press conference will take place on the same day at 12.00 in Warehouse C.

CLOSING FILM – Martha Marcy May Marlene by Sean Durkin, USA, 2011

Sean Durkin’s debut feature, the winner of this year’s Sundance Directing Award, is a remarkable psychological thriller about a young girl who flees a violent cult posing as a peaceful commune. Newcomer Elisabeth Olsen, who stars in the titular role, gives a complex performance as Martha, as she tries to deal with her past while safe in her sister’s home; frequent nightmares and bouts of paranoia, however, do not allow her to recover.


Marjane Satrapi will attend the Festival from 9-13 November to present Chicken with Plums (France, 2011 – Open Horizons). Adapted from another of her award-winning graphic novels and co-directed with Vincent Paronnaud, Satrapi’s new film after Persepolis takes place in 1958 in Tehran; it is the story of a violinist who decides to die after his favorite instrument is broken. Chicken with Plums uses a delightful blend of live action and animation, which corresponds flawlessly to the story’s mix of fantasy with harsh reality.

Andrey Zvyagintsev will attend the Festival from 6-9 November to present his new film, Elena (Russia, 2011 – Open Horizons). A suspenseful and atmospheric family drama with extraordinary attention to detail, it is about a simple woman, Elena, married to an old and wealthy man who decides to leave her almost nothing in his will.


Sara Driver: 9-13 November
Ole Christian Madsen: 4-8 November
Ulrich Seidl (Open Horizons): 10-12 November
Erden Kiral (Balkan Survey): 5-7 November


Three more Greek projects have been added to the Crossroads Co-production Forum roster out of competition:

Chess Games
Director: Olga Malea, Producer: Irene Souganidou, Feelgood Entertainment, Greece

Director: Joyce A. Nashawatti, Producer:Alexandra Boussiou, Wrong Men, Greece/France

Director: Constantine Giannaris, Producer: Dionyssis Samiotis, Filminmind Productions, Greece

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