59th TIFF: The Closing Ceremony

59th THESSALONIKI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL [1-11/11/2018] || 1-11/11/2018


Closing Ceremony


In a warm atmosphere, the curtain fell on the Thessaloniki International Film Festival with the awards ceremony that took place on Sunday November 11, 2018 at a packed Olympion theatre.

The first to speak was the President of TIFF’s Board of Directors Yorgos Arvanitis, who welcomed the representatives of the political and local authorities and the audience, which attended TIFF’s closing ceremony for the first time.  As he said, “It was a ten-day period full of films, discussions, events, memories creation. On behalf of all those who worked for this festival, the wonderful staff, our unique volunteers, I want to thank you all. A festival comes true from the moment the theatre is full and the film begins. In our case, this happened in eight theatres ten days ago. Tonight we are here to honor the films and the artists. Thank you very much, I wish you a beautiful evening and I invite on stage the ceremony presenter, the actor and filmmaker George Nanouris".

George Nanouris welcomed the audience and thanked TIFF’s sponsors, without whose valuable support “this exciting film celebration we all took part in once again this year could never have happened”. Then he welcomed on stage Alexandros Baltatzis, Marketing Manager International Premium Brands at Athenian Brewery, who bestowed the Fisher Audience Awards that mirror TIFF audience’s preferences. Mr Baltatzis said: “We warmly thank the Thessaloniki International Film Festival team who manages each year to present a world-class gem festival edition and this year offered us once more a unique experience, as part of which 15,000 people voted to produce the films that stood out via the Fischer Audience Awards. Fischer, for 12th year in a row via the Fisher Audience Awards helped the audience to vote for talents of today that will keep us busy tomorrow through TIFF’s highly interesting competition sections”.

The Fischer Audience Award for a film in the Greek Film section (premiere) – Michael Cacoyannis Award was bestowed to the film Refuge II: The Ice Path by Christos Nikoleris (Greece), who said he felt happy and excited for it and that this is a sign of the film achieving its goal, which was to be loved by the audience. The Fischer Audience Award for a film in the International Competition section was bestowed to the film Den Skyldige / The Guilty by Gustav Möller (Denmark), the Fischer Audience Award for a film in the Balkan Survey section was bestowed to the film Kelebekler / Butterflies by Tolga Karaçelik (Turkey), while the Fischer Audience Award for a film in Open Horizons section was bestowed to the film A Twelve-Year Night by Álvaro Brechner (Spain, Αrgentina, France).

The Festival hosted again this year the Youth Jury Awards, selected by students in the Universities of Thessaloniki and bestowed to films that participated in the Greek Film Festival  2018 section (premiere). This year’s jury was comprised by students Panayota Damianidou, Angelos Kalfas, Symeon-Raphael Karalis, Charalambos Kozaris and Alexandra Molfeta, while the jury curator was Dr Betty Kaklamanidou, Assistant Professor in Film and Television History and Theory at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. On behalf of the jury, Mrs Molfeta took the stage to bestow the two prizes: the Best Feature Film Award was bestowed to the film The Right Pocket of the Robe by Yiannis V. Lapatas (Greece). The jury reasoning was that “it is a deeply touching film that through love, loss and redefining of life gives us a valuable lesson on life and death. Efficient direction and photography, settings and costumes are a perfect rendition of the monastery area and the monk’s character, and are combined masterly with the whole film atmosphere. Very good sound designing and excellent use of music which, combining with the excellent acting, creates at once the feeling of identifying with them and escalates emotions whenever necessary”. Receiving the award, the writer of the titular book the film was based on, Giannis Makridakis, thanked the film director for their perfect collaboration and urged all Greek filmmakers to turn to Greek literature for inspiration. Consequently, the Special Youth Jury Award was bestowed to the film Scopophilia, by Natalia Lampropoulou and Ilektra Aggeletopoulou (Greece) “for its ingenuity, originality and mysterious character. A genuine directional approach with a definite voyeuristic eye and an excellent use of fast cutting. With the majority of shots made through webcam, you have a constant feeling of suspense as to both narration and direction”, was the jury reasoning. The two filmmakers gladly received the award and thanked both TIFF and the jury.

Consequently, two awards were bestowed this year for the first time in the Thessaloniki International Film Festival. First, the WIFT GR Award by the Greek Chapter of WIFT (Women in Film & Television) was bestowed to a film of International Competition or the Out of Competition sections for the best woman’s contribution and presence in front or behind the camera. This year’s jury comprised of the following WIFT GR members:  Antoinetta Angelidi (Vice-President), Lena Rammou (Media Expert - Secretary) and Poly Tranidou (Treasurer); the latter took the stage to bestow the award to the film Touce Me Not by Adina Pintillie (Romania, Germany, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, France), “for the courage and strength in depicting her female main character”. According to the jury reasoning, the film undermines the gender stereotypes and experiments bravely in cinematic language.

Then it was the turn of the new Mermaid Award for the best LGBTQI-themed film from TIFF’s official selection. The three-member jury comprised of Maria Katsikadakou (Maria Cyber, Director of Outview Film Festival, the Athens International LGBTQI Film Festival), Thomas Abeltshauser (journalist) and Cosimo Santoro (founder of The Open Reel sales agency). The first to speak was Mrs Katsikadakou, who dedicated the award to the memory of the Greek LGBTQI activist Zach Kostopoulos and went on to note: “We are very proud to be on the jury of the first ever queer film award of the Thessaloniki Film Festival and want to thank everyone involved for a great selection of films and for enabling the visibility of LGBTQI at a major event like this. It is an important signal in the current rightwing populist uprising in Europe and around the world”.

Consequently, Thomas Abeltshauser bestowed the award to the film Socrates by Alex Moratto (Brazil), noting: “The extraordinary film we award was made by a group of 16 to 20 year olds with a minimum budget  and is the authentic and moving portrayal of a gay teenager struggling to survive and finding his identity in Brazil’s merciless and increasingly racist society. This film has become even more relevant with the recent election of a fascist and homophobic president in Brazil”. Receiving the prize, the director Alex Moratto thanked TIFF and the city’s sophisticated audience that embraced the film, all his collaborators, especially his producer and the film’s cast, as well as his mentor, the film director Ramin Bahrani, who got involved in production. “Everyone was saying that it would be impossible for me to make such a film, with such a thematic, with only 20,000 dollars, but this award, in this festival, is the proof that a film can always make it to the audience”, the director said. 

Consequently, the Greek Film Critics Association (PEKK) award for the best Greek film in the 59th TIFF was bestowed by Giorgos Papadimitriou, PEKK member, to the film Still River by Angelos Frantzis (Greece, France, Latvia). According to PEKK’s reasoning, it is a film that “thanks to its directional and visual thoroughness creates a stand-alone universe, within which the film director fully explores the various contrasts between light and shadow, rationalism and metaphysics, genders and ways of life. This way he comments on our current crisis through the conflict between the West and the East, culminating in the transformation of Good into its opposite”. Mr Frantzis received the award warmly thanking PEKK both for this prize and the reasoning, and admitting that his film was a major challenge to conceive and carry out. Finally, he thanked his producers, among whom Konstantinos Kontovrakis and Giorgos Karnavas, all film contributors and especially the leading acting duo Andreas Konstantinou and Katia Goulioni. 

Consequently, the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) announced its awards. The jury consisted of Antti Selkokari (Finland, President), Rich Cline (UK) and Nick Aletras [Nick Artinos (Greece)]. First, Antti Selkokari bestowed the award in the International Competition section to Sofia by Meryem Benm’Barek (France, Qatar) “a film that fearlessly defies our presumptions.  People and their situations are seldom what they seem”, he said, analyzing the jury reasoning. The FIPRESCI award for a film in the Greek Film Festival 2018 section (premiere) was bestowed by Nick Aletras to the film Pause by Tonia Mishiali (Cyprus, Greece), “to a film that shows us a woman who goes through a challenging phase in her life where the power of imagination is very much needed”. Tonia Mishiali received her award and warmly thanked the jury, TIFF and its audience. 

Consequently, the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation S.A. (ERT) bestowed two awards. The first, which was accompanied by a cash prize amounting 3,000 euros, was bestowed to the film that won the Fischer Audience Award: Refuge ΙΙ: The Ice Path  by Christos Nikoleris (Greece). The second award, accompanied by a cash prize amounting 2,000 euros, was bestowed to the film that won the FIPRESCI Award: Pause by Tonia Mishiali (Cyprus, Greece). The award was bestowed by ERT3 Director General Alexandros Kanter Bax, who said, among others, that ERT in general and ERT3 in particular are always on the side of the Greek filmmakers, and expressed conviction that the upcoming TIFF’s 60th anniversary edition will be a benchmark in the Festival’s history. Both film directors received their awards thanking TIFF.

Immediately after, the Greek Film Centre, whose jury consisted of Panos Thomaidis (Director of GFC Production Office), Konstantinos Aivaliotis (director of the GFC Promotion) and Venia Vergou (Hellenic Film Commission director), bestowed its awards. Mrs Vergou and GFC General Director Vassilis Kosmopoulos took the stage to bestow two awards. Mr Kosmopoulos referred, among others, to the very good collaboration between the GFC and TIFF throughout the year. The first GFC award, amounting 5,000 euros and given to a debut film that premiered in 59th TIFF, was bestowed to Steve Krikris for his film The Waiter (Greece), “a filmmaker in whose film we recognized a complete world with narrative economy, structured visual narrative and orderly performances”, was the jury reasoning. Furthermore, the Best Location Award amounting 1,500 euros, bestowed by GFC Hellenic Film Commission Direction to location managers (or film directors, in case there is no location manager) for debut films that premiered in 59th TIFF, was bestowed to location manager Dimitris Halkiadakis, again for the film The Waiter by Steve Krikris (Greece). The jury reasoning: “We bestow Best Location Award to the location manager who gave the filmmaker the opportunity to create an homogeneous environment serving the plot needs with excellent proposals and choices, both in the city and in nature”. Steve Krikris received the awards and warmly thanked ERT, GFC, the Greek post-production company 2|35, Dimitris Halkiadakis for his excellent work, and whoever supported him in this hard journey of creating the film.

It was the turn of the “Human Values” award, bestowed each year by the Hellenic Parliament TV Channel (Vouli TV Channel) to a film in the International Competition section. This year’s jury, comprising by​ Aris Fatouros (program consultant), Kostas Dimos (head of programming) and Vassilis Douvlis (film director), bestowed the award to the film Kraben Rahu / Manta Ray by Phuttipong Aroonpheng (Thailand, France, China). The first Vice-President of Greek Parliament Anastasios Kourakis took the stage and pointed out that this film highlights a huge humanitarian problem, the ongoing Rohingya genocide. “Rohingyas are a stateless Muslim people, which the UN describes as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, since it is denied one of the basic human rights, nationality. For centuries now they live in Myanmar, this Southeast Asian country where the vast majority of population is Buddhist. There are about 1,3m Rohnigya people in Myanmar and dictatorship has since 1982 denied them the possibility of acquiring nationality, which renders them stateless, while they are restricted from freedom of movement. Due to ongoing violence and persecution, hundreds of thousands Rohnigya have crossed the borders into neighboring countries, mainly Bangladesh”, he said.

Proceeding, the Competition section with Virtual Reality films bestowed the Virtual Reality Award, accompanied by a cash prize of 3,000 euros, sponsored by the Greek Film Centre. This year’s jury, comprising of Francesca Fini (film director, Italy), Boyd van Hoeij (film critic, programmer Luxembourg City Film Festival, The Netherlands) and Angelos Frantzis (film director), bestowed the award to the film Battlescar by Nico Casavecchia and Martin Allais (France, US). The award was bestowed by Mr van Hoeij and Frantzis, noting that they singled out this film “for the playful direction, the punk aesthetic and for the approximation to virtual reality, which creates the sense of absolute naturalness and fully exploits the medium’s potential”.

The closing ceremony of the 59th TIFF went on with the awards of the International Jury of the International Competition section of this year’s festival, comprising by Sandra den Hamer (director of Eye Filmmuseum, The Netherlands), Radu Jude (film director, Romania), Fatemeh Motamed-Arya (Simin Motamed) (actress, Iran), Alfonso de Vilallonga (composer, Spain) and Syrago Tsiara (director of the Contemporary Art Centre of Thessaloniki, Greece).

The Best Full-Length Feature Film Award - Golden Alexander “Theo Angelopoulos”, accompanied by a cash prize amounting to 8,000 euros, was bestowed to the film Ray & Liz by Richard Billingham (UK). The award was announced by Sandra den Hamer, and then the presenter George Nanouris invited on stage the Minister of Culture and Sports Myrsini Zorba, who congratulated all participants and the winners, as well as TIFF for the great organization. “We must not forget that the Thessaloniki International Film Festival does not exhaust its potential in this ten-day event; instead but is a long-term relationship, which bears fruits throughout the year, through activities and events for all”, the Minister said among others, adding that we are waiting from the film directors to bring us their messages for the pulse of life which we may ignore.

The Special Jury Award - Silver Alexander, as announced by Alfonso de Vilallonga, was bestowed to the film Alles Ist Gut / All Good by Eva Trobisch (Germany, while the Special Jury Award for Best Director - Bronze Alexander was bestowed to the director Phuttipong Aroonpheng, for the film Kraben Rahu / Manta Ray (Thailand, France, China) and was announced by Radu Jude. The two film directors sent video messages, where they warmly thanked the jury, TIFF and the audience for this honor.

The Special Jury Best Actor Award, announced by Syrago Tsiara, was bestowed to the Danish actor Jakob Cedergren  for his performance in the film Den Skyldige / The Guilty by Gustav Möller (Denmark), while the Best Actress Award was bestowed to Marissa Triantafyllidou for her performance in the film Her Job by Nikos Labôt (Greece, France, Serbia) ex aequo with Aenne Schwarz, for her performance in the film Alles Ist Gut / All Good by Eva Trobisch (Germany). Before bestowing the Best Actress Award by Simin Motamed, the presenter called on stage the Deputy Minister of the Interior (Macedonia-Thrace) Katerina Notopoulou, who expressed admiration for TIFF’s standards and congratulated all participants in this year’s event. “Tonight is the closing ceremony of the 59th TIFF, but from tomorrow on we start to head for the 60th TIFF, anniversary edition”, she said. Consequently, the Greek actress Marissa Triantafyllidou thanked the jury for making her mom very happy, and mentioned the fact that this particular award is very important to her, since her origins are from Thessaloniki and the Festival holds a special place in her heart. “I would like to dedicate this award to all women who feel ‘invisible’, just like my heroine”, she said, concluding her acceptance speech.

The Best Artistic Achievement Award was bestowed to the cinematography of Nawarophaat Rungphiboonsophit, for the film Kraben Rahu / Manta Ray by Phuttipong Aroonpheng (Thailand, France, China).

The jury also awarded two special mentions. The first Special Mention was bestowed by Radu Jude to the film Socrates by Alex Moratto (Brazil), “for its courageous and generous work involving the local community”. Receiving it, Moratto thanked once more the audience for the way they embraced his film. The second Special Mentioned, announced by Syrago Tsiara, was bestowed to the film Smugglig Hendrix by Marios Piperides (Cyprus, Germany, Greece) “for its humorous approach to a complex political situation”. Alternate Environment and Energy Minister Socratis Famellos took the stage and congratulated all contributors to TIFF’s success, and pointed out that all bodies in charge will do their best for the success of the upcoming TIFF anniversary edition.  Accepting the special mention, Marios Piperides warmly thanked the audience and TIFF’s jury. 

The evening ended with the screening of the film Girl by the Belgian film director Lukas Dhont, that will be released by Seven Films. In a video message sent to TIFF, Dhont said he was very happy and excited to know that Thessaloniki audience would watch his film, which was the fruit of a five-year laborious and painful procedure.