The International Thessaloniki Film Festival has become the Balkans' primary showcase for the work of new and emerging filmmakers, as well as the leading film festival in the region. The event features the International Section, the panorama of Greek films, the Independence Days program, the Balkan Survey, and numerous retrospectives and tributes to leading figures in the world of film.
Since 1992, the International Thessaloniki Film Festival has striven to present the most innovative independent films from around the world.
The International Competition section consists of new directors' first or second films.
The non-competitive panorama of Greek films, an overview of the recent local production, followed by the presentation of the State Film Awards by the Greek Ministry of Culture.
Independence Days non-competitive section is the cutting-edge
showcase for the latest trends in independent film production.
Balkan Survey, created in 1994, stands as a unique program, which offers audiences a window on the cinema of this region of the world.
Retrospectives and tributes look at both historic masters, and emerging artists. Since 1993, numerous directors have been represented in the retrospective/tribute programs, including: Pedro Almodovar, Theo Angelopoulos, Bernardo Bertolucci, John Boorman. Michael Cacoyanis, John Cassavetes, David Cronenberg, Jules Dassin, Atom Egoyan, Takis Kanellopoulos, Abbas Kiarostami, Krzysztof Kieslowksi, Nikos Koundouros, Ken Loach, Nanni Moretti, Nagisa Oshima, Lucian Pintilie, Jean-Daniel Pollet, Arturo Ripstein and Jerzy Skolimowski.
In addition to the rich film offerings, the Festival hosts panels, exhibitions, and other artistic events such as:
The Nam June Paik "Video & Television Art" exhibition, "The Strange Objects of Desire of David Cronenberg" Ingrid Caven's concert, Paintings & Collages by Sergei Paradjanov, "Periplanissis" Photo Exhibit by Josef Koudelka, "Peter Greenaway's Paintings, Drawings & Collages" exhibit; and Jazz master Gato Barbieri in concert.
Over the last five years the Festival has also spotlighted significant, leading directors such as,
Olivier Assayas, Charles Burnett, Paul Cox, Manoel de Oliveira, Atom Egoyan, Philippe Garrel, Lana Gogoberidze, Michael Haneke, Hal Hartley, Otar Iosseliani, Jim Jarmusch, Jon Jost, Karel Kachyna, Chen Kaige, Vitali Kanevski, Aki Kaurismaki, Nikita Mikhalkov, Kira Muratova, Gleb Panfilov, Amos Gitai, Nicos Papatakis, Goran Paskaljevic, Sergei Paradjanov, Raul Ruiz, Daniel Schmid, Istvan Szabo, Andre Techine, Edward Young, John Waters, Frederick Wiseman, Nelson Pereira dos Santos, Mark Rappaport, Joao Cesar Monteiro, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Omer Kavur, Michelangelo Antonioni, Benoit Jacquot, Abolfazl Jalili, Daniele Dubroux, Jan Sverak, Bab Rafelson, Clarie Denis, Dariush Mehrjui, Jacques Doillon, and Sergei Bodrov.
The Festival has promoted the work of emerging young filmmakers from all over the world such as Artur Aristakisjian, Gregg Araki, Wolfgang Becker, Paolo Benvenuti, Xavier Beauvois, Paddy Breathnach, Gerardo Chijona, Pedro Costa, Antoine Desrosieres, Andrei Doinchyk, Boro Draskovic, Sara Driver, Ebrahim Forouzesh, Carl Franklin, Flora Gomez, Sotiris Goritsas, Andreas Gruber, Yeh Hung-Wei, Pinh Ho, Pericles Hoursoglou, Ilkka Jarvilaturi, Andras Jeles, Panos Karkanevatos, Tom Kalin, Fred Kelemen, Lodge Kerrigan , Tian Zhuang Shuang, Justin Kerrigan, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Dino Tsinadze, Lukas Moodysson, Marziyeh Meshkini, Pavel Pawlikowski, Samira Makhmalbaf, Petr Zelenka, Don McKellar, Cedric Khan, Fatih Akin, Darren Aranofsky, Constantine Giannaris, Neil LaBute, Kenny Glenaan, John Gianvito, Lucrecia Martel, Daniel Burman, Marco Bechis, Jia Zhang-ke, Yasim Ustaoglou, Christian Petzold, Zhang Yang, Laurent Cantent, and Pablo Trapero.