| The 47th Thessaloniki International Film Festival Closing Ceremony|
Guests from the arts and representatives of the government, as well as a swarm of cinemagoers created a warm and enthusiastic atmosphere for this year’s winners of the awards that were presented in the packed Olympion theatre, where the 47th Thessaloniki International Film Festival came to a close in a splendid ceremony, on Sunday night, November 26th.
The audience was mesmerised by the screening of this year’s making-of the Festival, a short video-journey in the ten days of its duration, and the touching moment when Wim Wenders presented the Golden Alexander award to Kim Tae-yong for his film Family ties. The German director received a warm welcome from the audience and said: “I had a really great time here with this 47 year-old baby… I can’t forgive myself for missing the 46 previous ones”. Director Kim Tae-yong, who received four awards, was especially touched. “I think I’m going to move here next year”, he said while receiving his award from Mr. Wenders.
The closing ceremony was presented by actors Yorgos Pirpasopoulos and Athena Maximou and directed by Angelos Fratzis. The first award that was presented was the Greek Film and Television Technicians’ Association Technical – Artistic Excellence Award to the film Eduart. The director of the film, Angeliki Antoniou mentioned that the award belongs to the Greek technicians that made the film possible.
Next was the Greek Film Critics’ Association Award which was presented by the Association’s president, Andreas Tiros. Mr. Tiros noted that the Festival should include less events and expressed the Association’s opposition to the State Cinema Awards towards the Ministry of Culture. He also described the Festival’s new section DigitalWave as the present and future for young filmmakers. He then presented the Association’s award to the film Soul kicking by Yannis Economidis. “A bold and subtractive director’s vision with outstanding performances and an aggressive outlook on contemporary Greek barbarism”, said Mr. Tiros. Yannis Economidis thanked the Greek Film Critics’ Association, noting the importance of the award for all of his colleagues.
The Nokia award for the 2nd Crossroads co-Production Forum was presented by the President of Alpha Copy Nokia, Stavros Konstantinidis, to Yesim Ustaoglou for her film Pandora’s Box.
The ceremony continued with the audience-favourite Jameson Audience Awards. For the DigitalWave section, the award went to Yorgos Axeherlidis, for his film “Summer country dreams”. The award for the most popular film from the Balkan Survey section went to “12:08 East of Bucharest”. Receiving the award for director Conreliu Porumboiu, was Romanian film critic Alex Leo Serban who jokingly mentioned that the film has no distributor in Greece and, “if someone here is interested, the film’s collaborators are open to suggestions”. The Audience Award for the Greek Film Section went to Dimitris Koutsiabasakos for his film The guardian’sa son. Mr. Koutsiabasakos thanked the audience for selecting a low budget film that was filmed in rural Greece, in the Pindos mountains. Finally, the Audience Award for the International Competition Section went to Kim Tae-yong’s film Family ties. The South-Korean director thanked the audience for selecting his film despite the cultural differences between Greece and his country.
Next followed the International Federation of Film Critics FIPRESCI awards for best Greek and foreign films. The awards were presented by the President of the FIPRESCI Jury, José Carlos Avelar and FIPRESCI member Ioanna Papageorgiou. Mr. Avelar mentioned the special hospitality the Jury received from the city of Thessaloniki and the Festival and presented the award for best foreign film to Karim Ainouz for his film Suely in the sky. “It’s wonderful to be in Thessaloniki again. I’d like to thank the Festival for being one the world’s friendliest festivals”, said Mr. Ainouz. Director Angeliki Antoniou and her film Eduart, received the FIPRESCI award for best Greek film. Mrs. Antoniou thanked FIPRESCI for the award as well as her collaborators and especially her cameraman, Yurgen Yurgens.
For the first time in the history of the institution, the 47th Thessaloniki International Film Festival presented the award titled “Women and Equal Opportunities” by the General Secretariat of Equal Opportunities of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The award was presented by Mrs. Evgenia Tsoumani who said: “Art like cinema can play a crucial role in the shaping of opinions and social standards in life for the role of women in modern society. It can stimulate feelings and create a social conscience which are crucial for our social and political work. In this context, the award “Women and Equal Opportunities” is a step towards the eradication of stereotypes regarding the roles of the two sexes in society. Besides its artistic qualities, this film conveys various messages on the role of women and the inequalities in their lives, in their work and in their personal relationships. Furthermore, it deals with the serious subject of violence that women face, especially during times of war”.
The award was presented to Jasmila Zbanich for her film Made in Serajevo, and was received by the film’s editor Niki Mosbek who said: “It’s very important to tell stories about women as well as to make films for them. Thanks to the publicity of our film, we managed to change the legislation on mass rapes which is now considered a war crime”.
The newly instituted award of the Ministry of Macedonia - Thrace “Everyday life: transcendence or reconciliation” was presented by the General Secretariat of the Ministry, Loukas Ananikas to Tariq Teguia for his film, Rome rather than you. As Mr. Ananikas said: This award was instituted by the Ministry as a recognition of the Festival’s significance for Thessaloniki and the whole country, and in order to support the filmmakers’ right of expression”. The director thanked the Ministry for the award and hoped that “the Algerian officials will consider the film’s plea and take serious political action to deal with the situation”, as he said.
The award from Vouli TV, the official television station of the Hellenic Parliament, was presented by the channel’s director, Konstantinos Alavanos to Francisco Vargas for his film The violin from the Independence Days section.
Following were the awards for the International Competition Section of the 47th Thessaloniki International Film Festival. The Artistic Achievement Award was presented to Karim Ainouz for his film Suely in the sky by the President of the Athens Festival, Yorgos Loukos and Jury member, Xu Jinglei. “This film is a homage to the way my family raised me and especially the women in my family, which greatly outnumber the men. I’d like to dedicate it to my grandmother”, said Karim Ainouz. The Best Screenplay Award was presented by Pierre Rissient and Lili Taylor, ex aequo to Kim Tae-yong for his film Family ties and Karim Ainouz for his film Suely in the sky. The Best Leading Actress Award was presented by Lefteris Voyatzis and Julliette Lewis to the three leading actresses of the film Family ties, while the Best Leading Actor Award was presented by Lefteris Voyatzis and Sandrin Boner to Antoni Pawlicki for the film Retrieval. Finally, the Best Direction Award was presented by Katia Lund and Pantelis Voulgaris to Slawomir Fabicki for his film Retrieval. Mr. Voulgaris urged filmmakers to be tireless, imaginative and bold.
The Special Award of the Jury, the Silver Alexander was presented by the Jury’s president Christine Vachon and renowned director Chen Kaige to Mona Zandi Haghighi for her film On a Friday afternoon.
Finally, the Golden Alexander Award for Best Feature Film was presented by Christine Vachon and Wim Wenders to Kim Tae-yong for his film Family ties.
Despina Mouzaki, the Director of the Thessaloniki Film Festival, expressed her happiness for the thousands of people who had the chance to experience the Festival once again this year, and invited everyone to next year’s Festival in 2007 saying: “I want to promise an even better Festival for next year and I’d like to thank all of you because, more than anything else, the Festival owes its success to its audience”.
Attending the closing ceremony were the Minister of Culture, Yorgos Voulgarakis, the General Secretariat of the Ministry of Macedonia – Thrace, Loukas Ananikas, the Mayor of Thessaloniki, Vasilis Papageorgopoulos as well as many representatives from the government and the arts. Among them were the Deputy Minister of Sports, Yorgos Orfanos, Parliament Representatives, Elena Rapti, Stavros Kalafatis and Evangelos Venizelos, Vice-Mayor of Youth and Culture, Vasilis Gakis, city counsellors, Spyros Vougias and Babis Barbounakis, the member of the Festival’s Board of Directors, Antonis Giftopoulos, the President of the National Theatre of Northern Greece, Nikitas Tsakiroglou, the Official Counselor of the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair, Nikos Kassimatis, the member of the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Arts Board of Directors, Katerina Kamara, the President of the Greek Film Centre, Yorgos Papalios and many others.