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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. 



Interview with Denis Côté ('Vic + Flow Saw a Bear')


Interview with Denis Côté ('Vic + Flow Saw a Bear')

'Vic + Flow Saw a Bear' … Or did they? If the bear here is something that is both a very real and life-threatening animal in the forest as well as a mythical (sometimes magical) creature from fairytales, then the film itself is such a paradox. The story begins under the guise of gritty realism but methodically evolves into a Chinese box of mystery and suspense. This is a princess kisses frog who turns prince film. Starting off gradual and slimy, it grows into such illusory and near supernatural originality that it leaves the viewer not only wanting to know what happens to the characters after the film has ended, but also curious to understand the intrepid mind of the visionary director himself.


Quebecois director Denis Côté's 'Vic + Flow Saw a Bear' (2013) premiered at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival where it won the Silver Bear (Alfred Bauer Prize). The film screened most recently in Rio at the Rio International Film Festival and is scheduled to screen at the 54th Thessaloniki Film Festival next month.

Read my interview with director Denis Côté here:


ME : Why the title when there is no bear in the film?

DENIS : The answer to that question is at the end of the film, in the last violent chapter of the story. The title imposed itself right at the beginning. I like the ambiguity. We don't know if Vic+Flo are male or female. It could sound like a film for kids, an animation, there’s a sense of menace to it. I like the various energies the title carries.

ME : What made you come up with such an original story? Was it based on a story you had heard about or just a wacky inspired idea?

DENIS : I like to create everything. I write in a very instinctive way, then I try to find some sophistication so the chaos can make some sense. I knew I wanted to write for characters who, again, live a bit outside society or one foot outside the world. Also, I never really wrote for female characters so it was a challenge I was looking for. Finally, I knew I wanted to play with the genres so in the end, the film is somewhere between drama, comedy, tragedy, grotesque, violent, subtle, calm, noisy. Lots of mood swings and surprises I hope.

ME: Why do you think this film has an almost supernatural feel to it? Were you intending for that?

DENIS : I know there’s a strong sense of menace flying over the story. I hope the viewer feels unsafe watching it with the impression that anything can happen at any moment.

ME: Is there a subliminal message in your film? Or do you prefer to let audiences decide for themselves?

DENIS : I don’t like symbolic, metaphors or hidden subliminal messages. What you see in the film is what’s happening. There’s something that could resemble a fairytale as well with the good guys, the bad guys and the woods… I don’t think the audience has to ‘decide’ something but I made sure the film is open enough so you can feel free to loose yourself in it.

ME: How has the world taken to your film since Berlin?

DENIS : We have had a terrific festival run (more than 65 selections so far) and we sold the film to 10 territories.

ME: How has the Quebec audiences taken to the film?

DENIS: It was released on sept 4th and did pretty ok at the box office. Reviews and reactions are really surprising, in a good way.

ME: What are your favorite films and who were your greatest inspirational filmmakers?

DENIS: I used to be a film critic so I have a strong cinephile past and present. I like to see a lot of films, think about trends and know who’s doing what. My favorite filmmakers have nothing to do with the cinema I’m making. Bresson, Pialat, Fassbinder and Cassavetes are favorites. I’m not sure about my real direct inspirations. Hopefully, people can see I have my own style after seven feature films. I was surely influenced by people like Claire Denis, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Sergei Loznitsa and many others working today.

ME: Did you always know you would be a filmmaker? Or was it a process?

DENIS: I entered college, studying film at age eighteen and knew I wanted to be a director. There was no hesitation or conflict. I made lots of short films instead of attending a film school or university.

ME: You have been traveling the festival circuit ever since Berlin. What has this been like?

DENIS: It’s been many years now that people like to say that I’m a festival regular, here and there. I have traveled to so many countries and festivals that it became some sort of lifestyle. I need to think about it. Maybe I did enough or maybe I just have to do it to meet the audiences, and make sure my films exist. I don’t make commercial cinema so I must consider the festival circuit a lot.

ME: Do you have an idea what you will film next?

DENIS: We are finishing a low budget essay film on the idea of work. Should be around 70min. It’s quite experimental I’d say. I must write a new script as well. That’s all I can say for now.


View the film's trailer here:




-Interview by Vanessa McMahon. October 17, 2013

Denis Cote in Transylvania @ TIFF

Director Denis Côté in Transylvania @ 2013 TIFF. 

Photo by Vanessa McMahon



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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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