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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. 



Jury Press Conference at 53rd TIFF



















A Press Conference was given by the International Competition Jury of the 53rd Thessaloniki International Film Festival on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at Warehouse C, in the presence of Dimitri Eipides, Director of the Festival. This year’s Jury is comprised of: Thomas Elsaesser, President (Professor Emeritus of Film and Television Studies at the University of Amsterdam and Visiting Professor at Yale University), Ole Christian Madsen (director), Laufey Gudjonsdottir (co-founder of the Icelandic Film Center), João Pedro Rodrigues (director), and Thymios Bakatakis (cinematographer).

Mr. Eipides opened the Press Conference by saying: “I would like to thank the select members of our Jury, who make our work easier and brighter, and who will make decisions which will promote the development of new directors, particularly from independent cinema. These directors need this helping hand, publicity or an award at a Festival. I am proud that we have obtained the participation of elite professionals on the Jury. I would like to hope that first of all they will all have a good time during the Festival’s ten days, while I also dare to hope that they will enjoy the programme I selected and will reach very good conclusions”.

Jury president Mr. Elsaesser spoke first, thanking the festival for the invitation. While referring to the Jury selection criteria, he noted: “We seem a little tired and this is due to the fact that last night we were talking about the films until 3 o’clock in the morning. So, it seems that I am president of a very strong Jury. I am also glad to see so many new directors in the International Competition section. Most of these were born in the ‘70s and the beginning of the ‘80s, and I believe that we will see films from dedicated directors who are differentiating themselves from previous generations. What we’ve seen up to now is very encouraging. I’m very happy and can’t wait to see the films and get to know my colleagues on the Jury better”.

Ole Christian Madsen then explained: “I have to admit that I don’t like the position of critic very much. Many times in the past I have sat in a cinema watching how a jury reacts to my films, a very stressful thing. This year, the jury has promised to watch the films with much concentration and honesty. I would also like to thank Mr. Eipides for his invitation and for the excellent programme of the Festival”. The Danish director added: “In the present time it is important to support European independent cinema, because financing and distribution is so difficult, while at the same time so many formats and choices are springing up that independent films are ‘squeezed’ in a way. I believe we should have a discussion on this topic”.

Then João Pedro Rodrigues took the floor. He noted: “I also want to thank Mr. Eipides for his invitation to the 53rd Festival. I come from Portugal, which just like Greece is facing a very bad economic situation and where film financing has stopped this year. That’s why I am happy to be able to be at a festival where I can see that films are still being made in this world. I hope to see many good films, which is mainly why I came here, in spite of the fact that I do not particularly like being a member of a jury”.

Laufey Gudjonsdottir stated: “I am very happy to be in Thessaloniki. Mr. Eipides is known for his discernment of new talent, both at the Thessaloniki Festival and the Toronto Festival. Also, his contribution to the Icelandic Festival as well as Icelandic culture itself is great. Unfortunately, for the last two years he has not been able to come to our festival because of other commitments, however we are waiting for him to return. I am happily looking forward to what he has in store for us at the 53rd Thessaloniki International Film Festival”. Rounding out the Jury’s comments, Thymios Bakatakis noted: “It is a great honour and recognition for me to be present at this festival and to participate in the jury. This is my first experience at this post, so I don’t yet have anything to say”.

Asked about the decision making process, Mr. Elsaesser said: “The relations of members are different in every jury. Personally, I don’t have any predetermined rules. I want to discover what the internal dynamic of the jury is, and I want to get to know my colleagues better. As Mr. Madsen said, we want to watch the films giving them the opportunity to be themselves instead of having ready-made judgements. We wish to put ourselves in the place of the directors. After all, we have two directors on the jury and I believe this will be valuable to us. At this point we are more concerned about seeing with the eyes of the director instead of how we will judge him”. Mr. Madsen added to this subject: “Naturally we will try to convince each other, that’s how every jury works. One member thinks he is right, another thinks the same, and at the end they reach an agreement. I believe the duty of a judge is to try and convince the others about his opinion, even if he hesitates to take a position. It also depends on what each of us thinks is a good film. The jury’s discussion will of course center on the originality, intensity, and whether the foundations on which each film is built are sound or not”.

Regarding the way a jury member sees a film, Mr. Rodrigues explained: “I see films as a viewer, as myself. I grew up loving cinema and I became a director by watching films, I learned and I am still learning. I don’t believe it is possible to be different as a person and as a jury member. I don’t very much like this position, sometimes it is very difficult”. Speaking about the role played by chemistry among the members of a jury, Mr. Elsaesser stressed: “It’s as if you have been trapped in an elevator with other people. One begins depending on another very much, you almost get Stockholm Syndrome. The dynamics among the members of such a team are very unique. Sometimes lifelong friendships are formed and other times you never want to see someone again”.

Regarding the difficulty of judging amongst different cinematic genres, Mr. Madsen explained: “The subjective element of the jury is in personal taste. But I can’t say that there are film genres I don’t like. I can find something good in any film. I believe everyone in this jury loves cinema very much, and this love for the medium leads one to genres that perhaps one doesn’t prefer”. On the same subject, Mr. Elsaesser added: “I believe my role is the most schizophrenic. As president, I try to balance subjective points of view and disagreements so that we can present our decision at the end of the festival. Also, I have a more general philosophy. I believe that juries play a very important role these days. We can make the difference, give support through our opinion, provide a showcase to independent films which have difficulty finding distribution, and at the same time we can preserve some important festival traditions”.




photos by Martin Petrov 

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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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