Press Conference (27/09/05 Goethe Institute)


18 - 27 November 2005

For ten days, the 46th Thessaloniki International Film Festival (TIFF) will offer festival-goers the opportunity to enjoy the 200 plus films included in its programmes; to find out about recent developments and new trends in world cinema; to watch the latest Greek films; to discover how an idea becomes a film; to attend art exhibitions and sidebar events; in other words, to actively take part in this great celebration of cinema!

This year, the TIFF is helmed by a new team: Festival President Georges Corraface (Yorgos Chorafas) and Festival Director Despina Mouzaki.
Corraface, the well-known Greek-French actor, enjoys a healthy international career and brings to the Festival his extensive experience and worldwide expertise. Despina Mouzaki comes to the Festival strong from her successful career in the film industry, notably in the area of production.

The main Press Conference will be held in Thessaloniki and will include a detailed presentation of the films of the International Competition Section –the core of the Festival—as well as the Out of Competition and the Special Screenings sections which, together with the various tributes and retrospectives, make up the Festival’s Official Selection. The other sections of the Festival will also be presented then.

The following pages contain an overview of this year’s Festival with information on each of the sections:
Greek Films 2005
Independence Days
Balkan Survey
Tributes and retrospectives
Tributes to Mexican, Irish, and Danish cinema
Balkan Fund
Masterclasses/Round Tables

Greek cinema will be in the spotlight at this year’s TIFF, with the screening of the whole of this year’s film production. The films comprising the Festival’s Greek Films section are the ones submitted for the Culture Ministry’s State Awards. By all indications (and bearing in mind that the application deadline is September 30th), the number of Greek films is expected to be comparable to last year’s.

Besides the fiction and documentary films that make up the main body of the Greek Programme, festival-goers will have the opportunity to watch the award-winning short films from the Drama Short Film Festival as well as a series of tributes to several Greek filmmakers.

This year, the Festival will be honouring three distinguished Greek auteurs by screening retrospectives of their work:

· Nikos Papatakis: The international dimension of Greek filmmaking will be highlighted in this tribute to the 87-year-old director of the Greek diaspora. The tribute will consist of the first ever, full retrospective of Papatakis’s oeuvre, an exhibition of photographs and the publication of a book on his work. Following in the footsteps of an anarchic Buñuel, Papatakis’s cinema –which uses lyricism, humour and rage to denounce imperialism, traditional morality, sexual taboos, Christianity, the “luxury” Left wing, torture, and the wretchedness of immigrant life through symbolic but never violent scenes—enraged the establishment precisely because it extolled the individual that stands up against a codified society.

· Antouanetta Angelidi: A true representative of avant-garde cinema in Greece, for the past 30 years Angelidou has been juxtaposing cinema and the other arts (painting, architecture, literature, et al.) in order to explore the limits of the medium as representation. Through the use of cinematic means, Antouanetta Angelidi experiments with the possibilities of the cinematic language, producing a completely personal oeuvre.

· Yorgos Panoussopoulos: This iconoclastic auteur is considered an integral part of New Greek Cinema. A cinematographer, editor, screenwriter and film director with a special way of looking at the reality of the senses and not only of ideas, Yorgos Panoussopoulos is a filmmaker in every sense of the word. A “director of love,” as he has often been described, Yorgos Panoussopoulos has loyally served the art of film in every capacity, with films that have marked the evolution of Greek cinema.

The Festival will also be honouring two outstanding actors: Olia Lazaridou and Aris Retsos, two of the most recognizable faces of New Greek Cinema.

The programme will include events dedicated to the memory of filmmakers Grigoris Grigoriou and Costas Manoussakis, two steadfast figures on the Greek film scene who passed away this year; filmmaker Alexis Bistikas on the tenth anniversary of his untimely death; and filmmaker Christos Vakalopoulos, the distinctive theorist, critic and author.

Among the round-table discussions held during this year’s TIFF, pride of place is held by the meeting on “Art” – the Thessaloniki intellectuals’ art society which, in the sixties, worked hard to create the Thessaloniki Film Festival. Headed by the film and literary theorist Pavlos Zannas and the poet Manolis Anagnostakis and with the contribution of people of film such as Aglaia Mitropoulou from the Greek Cinémathèque, “Art” held the first public panel towards the creation of a different kind of cinema, which would meet the ideological and aesthetic needs of the time.

Following last year’s successful initiative, the Greek Films section’s Midnight Screenings will offer a selection of feature films shot in digital video as well as excerpts from Works in progress. Viewers are also promised quite a few surprises!


A pun on the title of one of the greatest blockbusters, the title of this newly-established section of the TIFF is also a direct reference to the work of independent filmmakers worldwide. Independence Days aspires to bring together in a single “forum,” films that are very different from each other in terms of subject matter, place of origin, but also écriture. Of course, the focus is young filmmakers, without excluding older ones, whose work is still unknown to the wider Greek public.

This year, Independence Days will open with two tributes to established filmmakers:

· The first is a tribute to Korea’s Kim Ji Woon, a filmmaker who moves nimbly between commercial appeal and artistic integrity. Described as a Korean David Lynch, Kim Ji Woon has evolved the genre of the thriller, as it has gained success through films such as Ring, by enriching it with hypnotic, allusive images and a stylized psychological terror that gives another dimension to the metaphysical universe of his oeuvre.

· The second tribute attempts to shed light on the oeuvre of the 80-year-old Japanese filmmaker Seijun Suzuki. This is one of the most unacknowledged Japanese directors, who has influenced filmmakers from Jim Jarmusch and Wong Kar Wai to John Woo and Quentin Tarantino, and whose work has just recently begun to be recognized for its artistic but also its entertainment value. Having been compared to Sam Fuller and Mario Bava, Suzuki was already turning the gangster-yakuza genre rules on their head as early as the fifties, through the use of shocking violence, sarcastic humour and multi-coloured, symbolic, Pop-Art-type photography.

Besides the main body of the programme, a smaller section, entitled Young Americans, is dedicated to the new voices in independent American cinema, which – despite being in crisis, according to some—continues to supply cinema with new talent.

In the context of promoting “new voices,” Independence Days will be presenting the portraits of three up-and-coming filmmakers, under the collective title Someone to watch. These artists are:

· Miranda July, the video artist, who won over Cannes with her film debut You and Me and Everyone you Know.

· Jerôme Bonnell, whose participation in the Berlin Festival with his film Les Yeux Clairs stirred up even more interest than his feature debut Le Chignon d’ Olga (FIPRESCI Prize at the Chicago International Film Festival, 2003)

· Andrew Bujalski, whose second feature, Mutual Appreciation, is expected to be as enthusiastically received as his award-winning debut Funny Ha-Ha.

Finally, there will be something special regarding the Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook, whose film Oldboy was a huge success with Greek audiences.


Each year, the Balkan Survey section presents the Festival’s Greek and foreign audience with an overview of Balkan film production through the selection of some of the most important films made in this region.

This year, besides the regular Balkan selection, there will also be a tribute to the Turkish filmmaker Kutlug Ataman. Also known for his video installations, Ataman stands out for the way he addresses issues of identity and sexuality in modern society. His main focus is on the clash between tradition and desire, especially in the heart of Turkish culture, irrespective of whether it takes place in Istanbul, where he was born, or in Berlin, where he lives today.


The Festival has chosen to spotlight the work of unique artists with a personal and fiercely independent style who enjoy international recognition of their contribution to cinema and art in general. Four different artists; four different interpretations of our world through cinema; three filmmakers and one cinematographer, through which latter the concept of cinematic creation extends from the director to the rest of the major contributors to the making of a film.

The Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao Hsien is the favourite of art-house cinema and international festivals. He is one of the most authentic contemporary Asian directors, an auteur who contemplates the human condition in the face of historical contradiction and the fluidity of the present. The Festival aspires to give a complete picture of his oeuvre to his audience, by presenting the vision of a filmmaker who may not have much commercial appeal but who has contributed a great deal to cinema. A unique narrator and an extraordinary visual stylist, Hou Hsiao Hsien describes himself as a chronicler who is trying to preserve the elements of his culture which are being threatened with extinction. Hou Hsiao Hsien has won, among others, the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival 1989 for his film A City of Sadness and the Special Jury Award at Cannes in 1993 for The Puppetmaster.

The French auteur Patrice Chéreau, stage, opera and film director, actor and producer, is described as the “absolute artist” and a “creative intellectual.” This year alone, he toured Europe with his one-man dramatisation of Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground (which was also presented in Athens) and staged Mozart’s monumental opera Cosi Fan Tutte at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, while his latest film, Gabrielle, was selected for the Venice Film Festival. Though it is with great ease that he crosses over from the stage to film to opera, Chéreau recently declared that he is now mainly interested in the cinema: “I make films in order to approach bodies and because the theatre cannot give me this corporeal density. I am fascinated by the violence of bodies as one goes up against the other.” It is not surprising then that the key to Chéreau’s oeuvre lies precisely in the semantics and the language of the body.

A prolific director of fine films, Michael Winterbottom more than deserves a tribute to his work in recognition of his exceptional talent. Having made 14 films in the last ten years, the British filmmaker is considered one of the most interesting and dedicated contemporary directors. Renowned for his sensitivity regarding social issues, armed with political courage and a keen eye for people (especially those who usually pass unnoticed), Michael Winterbottom is above all a humanist, whose work brings together politics and art, thus winning the respect of both the audience and the critics.

This year, the Festival will also be honouring great film professionals and artists other than directors. One of these is Vittorio Storaro. A famous cinematographer, he has worked with Bernardo Bertolucci, Francis Ford Coppola, Warren Beatty and Carlos Saura, and has won three Academy Awards for his work on Apocalypse Now, Reds, and The Last Emperor. He is considered one of the major cinematographers worldwide. Storaro himself insists on the term cinematographer as opposed to director of photography, considering the latter an American invention. Moreover, he believes that the cinematographer is the co-creator of the film, and not merely a technician at the service of the director.


In its desire to broaden its international horizons, the TIFF has always presented special tributes to national cinemas. This year, the Festival will be honouring the films not of one but of three different countries, which are of particular interest.

The tribute to Mexican cinema spans a long period of time and presents the portrait of Mexico’s unique cinematic temperament. In fact, the rekindling of the worldwide interest in Mexican cinema during the past decade makes even more urgent the need to honour the young artists who revived their country’s cinema and brought it back to a wider audience, as well as the older filmmakers who set the foundation for its evolution.

Festival-goers will have the opportunity to discover new directors who promote their own personal vision and prove that the “stronger” art arises from within adverse circumstances: contrary to Denmark and Ireland, Mexico lacks a consistent policy regarding public funding and little or no solidarity on the part of television. Foremost among the leading figures of New Mexican Cinema are, among others, Carlos Reygadas, Alejandro González Iñárittu, Alfonso Cuarón, and Guillermo del Toro, as well as screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga.

Nevertheless, the connection between this new generation of Mexican filmmakers and their predecessors is a strong one. Which is why the tribute to Mexican Cinema will include representative works of the “classics” – Luis Buñuel during his “Mexican period”, the experimental forefather of independent cinema, Rúben Gámez, and the most “Mexican” of all, Emilio Fernández. Finally, Paul Leduc, Mexican cinema’s link to the past who is still active to this day.

On the other end of the planet, the cinematic boom that is taking place in Denmark and Ireland has placed these two countries on the forefront for film-lovers worldwide. Despite their small population, they have steadily succeeded, through a consistent presence in terms of both quality and quantity, in drawing the film world’s attention to Northern Europe. The cinema of Ireland and Denmark will be presented in this year’s TIFF as a single unity. By virtue of their rich cinematic and cultural heritage, these two countries have been selected to show how they have managed to win a leading position in both European and world cinema, each one through its own distinctive style.

Setting aside established names such as those of Lars von Trier and Jim Sheridan, the Festival will be focusing on a new generation of equally promising and talented filmmakers and on films produced within the last three years. The film policies of Denmark and Ireland, being both favourable for directors and effective in terms of film production, have allowed the cinematic tradition of these countries to live on through a new generation, without being bound by the future. A small but representative selection of films aims at covering the aesthetic and thematic range of Danish and Irish cinema, as they continue to evolve in innovative ways.


For the first time this year, a Co-Production Forum entitled Crossroads will be taking place during the Festival, on November 24-26.

During the three-day Forum, producers with feature film screenplays will have the opportunity to come in contact with a new network of backers, co-producers and important film professionals. Approximately 40 guests from Europe and the US are expected to attend. Among them will be distributors, representatives of TV channels and major companies, such as Alliance Atlantis and Zentropa, sales companies and consultants who can offer valuable advice concerning legal matters or fundraising strategies. The pitching of projects to producers and potential backers will be followed by private meetings among the participants.

Crossroads is concerned with proposals for fiction feature films from Europe and the Mediterranean. These films must necessarily have some connection to the Mediterranean or the Balkans – either in terms of their subject matter or as (co-)productions.

The interest on the part of the world film industry in this initiative of the TIFF’s was expressed through the large number of applications, which was beyond all expectation. It should be noted that a large percentage of these applications came from Greek producers, which proves that the Festival’s initiative has met an objective need of the Greek film industry.

Crossroads will also be hosting a series of briefings and round-table discussions on current issues regarding film production, as well as educational seminars on techniques for pitching promoting projects in the film market.


It was the concept of the ancient Greek agora as a place where people meet, discuss public issues, make decisions, but also barter and buy and sell products that inspired both the name and the content of this new activity of the TIFF.

The Festival’s Agora will be a meeting place for specialists from various sectors of film production, buyers, TV channel representatives, distributors, and sales agents from all over the world who are interested in all the Agora Vidéothèque has to offer, i.e. all the feature films screened at this year’s Festival with an emphasis on recent Greek films, as well as a wide range of films from the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean.

This new activity is developed at the same time as and in collaboration with the Festival’s different sections, and especially the Greek Films section, as well as with other Festival events and the Crossroads co-productions forum. Thus, a powerful framework is built to support the networking among professionals and the development of opportunities for the further promotion of films.


The Balkan Fund continues its successful course in this, its third year, by underscoring Greek activity in the Balkan Peninsula. The fund targets a geographical area, which is not covered fully by any other festival or fund: the greater region of Southeastern Europe. A total of twelve screenplay treatments have been selected for presentation by the screenwriters, filmmakers and producers during the three-day international meeting, within the framework of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival from 19 to 21 November.

Following an open discussion, a five-member international jury will single out four of these treatments, which will go on to be funded by €10,000. At the same time, outline applicants will have the opportunity to meet with investors, producers, distributors and sales agents who will be in Thessaloniki especially for the Balkan Fund meeting. Indeed, there is an increased interest to participate in the Balkan Fund, as it proceeds to take on greater special interest and as the international community shows its confidence in the quality of the treatments. But above all, what is appreciated is the work method employed during the meeting, which guarantees an especially good climate, favourable to collaborations and co-productions.

International interest in the Balkan Fund is reaffirmed by the fact that it is already co-funded by the CNC (French National Centre for Cinema) and Germany’s Goethe Institut. Moreover, it is a member of the European Association of Film Festival Funds, together with other notable programmes such as the Hubert Bals Fund, the Berlin Film Festival’s World Film Fund, and the Goeteborg Film Fund, representatives of which will be attending the three-day meeting again this year.


Though they are artistic events in their own right, the exhibitions of this year’s TIFF complement and highlight the cinematic tributes, while at the same time offering festival-goers the opportunity to see dimensions of the art of film beyond the ones revealed on the screen.

The exhibition of photo-collages by Vittorio Storaro at the Museum of Photography and the Museum of Cinema which will open during the Festival and will be hosted at the Museum of Film and the Museum of Photography, is entitled Writing with Light and includes 156 works, many of them on a giant scale. By virtue of modern technology, the diverse visual material submerges the viewer into a magically illuminated artistic universe. The exhibition is the outcome of years of research on the part of the artist and is divided into three parts: The Light, The Colour and The Elements, all of which are integral parts of Storaro’s work in film and his philosophy on life.

The tribute to Nikos Papatakis is rounded off by an exhibition of photographs and other materials (letters, screenplays, magazines, posters, etc.) related to his films and taken from Yannis Kontaxopoulos’s archive at Thessaloniki’s Telloglio Art Foundation, which will be accompanied by the screening, in situ, of a documentary on the filmmaker. The exhibition’s opening will take place during the Festival.

The exhibition entitled Art and Cinema, held by the State Museum of Modern Art in the harbour area and opening during the Festival, will be presenting masterpieces from the Kostakis Collection based on the relationship between cinema and the visual arts. The exhibition will feature film-related drawings by artists of the Russian avant-garde, film magazines, designs for audiovisual installations, as well as a series of drawings and storyboards by the pioneering Russian film director Sergei Eisenstein. Films of that time will also be screened as part of the exhibition.

Finally, during the coming year, the Festival will be welcoming an exhibition on Dean Tavoularis, the Academy-Award-winning production designer and close associate of Francis Ford Coppola. The exhibition, which will be housed at the Macedonian Museum of Modern Art, will illustrate Tavoularis’s 45-year collaboration with the great filmmaker. The exhibition of the storyboards, the drawings and all the other materials of Tavoularis’s craft is a worldwide first.

Part of the Festival’s goal is to function as a forum for dialogue and as an institution that promotes collaboration by fostering and creating opportunities for the exchange of ideas and opinions concerning the art of cinema and its importance to cultural and intellectual life, as well as by seeking and presenting new ideas, highlighting new trends and producing cultural and intellectual products. The Festival’s ultimate goal is to bring industry people, through dialogue, in direct and vital contact not only with the representatives of other art forms, but also with the audience, and especially young people.

Thus the Master Class section is strengthened and expanded, in terms of content, while, concurrently, a new addition is created in the form of Round Table discussions. The Master Classes offer distinguished filmmakers - not just directors, but professionals from all sectors of film production - the opportunity to get in touch with their colleagues and with the audience, to share their experiences and exchange concerns. At the same time, the Round Tables will serve as means of channeling information and promoting debate.

Directors, scriptwriters, actors and film industry professionals from Greece and abroad will have the chance to introduce their work to their colleagues as well as to the audience. Through lectures they will share their knowledge of the art of cinema, elaborating on such issues as screenwriting and its relation to literature, the correlations between directing a theatre play and a film, the contribution of stage design in the creation of a film, the role of an actor etc. Moreover, the audience will have a chance to recall – or get to know for the first time – the people and the history that shaped the relationship of film and culture in Greece.

At the same time, the Festival will host meetings between European and International institutions and unions, and representatives of the ‘Film Festival Fund’ and the ‘European Film Agency Directors’. ‘Producers on the Move’, a European Film Promotion initiative, is also being presented - for the first time outside the Cannes Film Festival context.

Through these actions, the Festival wishes to fully respond to the challenge of redressing the cinematic and audiovisual educational weaknesses of our country.