63rd TIFF Opening Ceremony: Women at the forefront




63rd TIFF Opening Ceremony: Women at the forefront


Amidst an ambience of joy and enthusiasm, the opening ceremony of the 63rd Thessaloniki International Film Festival took place on Thursday, November 3rd, with Yorgos Kapoutzidis hosting the event. “It is a great joy and an honor for me to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me. To be completely honest, however, I am not sure why you invited me. I am not from Thessaloniki, but from Serres, and apart from theater and television, I have not been involved in cinema”, Mr. Kapoutzidis said humorously, kicking off this year’s edition. He then went on to refer to the first time he visited Olympion as a viewer, 32 years ago, when he first came to Thessaloniki as a student. “Thessaloniki is the city that taught me how to be free, to have the urge to create, to dream, that taught me to love theater and cinema. Here is where all my dreams were born. It is this city that invited me here today and I am immensely grateful for making yet another dream of mine come true. The Festival is, after all, the place where creators from all over the world yield their dreams, in hope of receiving your love and recognition, and I am certain that this is what will happen this year as well”. As he explained, he does not feel like the host of the evening. “If I feel anything, it is that I am the… second most exportable product of my home town, after bougatsa. Okay, maybe also after akanes”.


Afterwards, he handed the floor to the Festival’s general director, Elise Jalladeau. “Exactly one year ago, in this exact room, the opening of the 62nd Thessaloniki Film Festival was held, with a spectacular film. Happening, by Audrey Diwan, is a film about a young woman during the 1960s in France, who wanted to have an abortion. But at those times, this procedure could send a woman to jail. The film was based on the novel of the same name by Annie Ernaux, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, approximately a month ago. However, since last year, this right as well as many other women’s rights, are threatened on a daily basis. We saw what is happening in so many parts of the planet. And we observe in fear and in hope, the fight put up by the women of Iran. This is the reason why the Festival focuses on women’s rights bringing forth on important female filmmakers who take art and cinema one step further. It is the woman who is the protagonist of our poster. The women who shine in our festival spot this year. It is Helen from Theo Angelopoulos’ Reconstruction. It is Maria Plyta, the first Greek woman to direct films. It is Maria Gavala, who will be honored with the Special Golden Alexander Award. And of course, it is Mina Kavani, the Iranian actress who lives in self-exile in Paris and is the protagonist of Jafar Panahi’s latest film, a director who has also been vocal about human rights and women’s rights, and is currently in jail. For all these women, for all of us, for all of you, the Festival has fought and will continue to fight in the way it knows best. Through moving images. Through the redeeming power of cinema”.


Mr. Kapoutzidis also referred to the poster of this year’s edition, designed by Dimitris Trimintzios (Taxis), at the center of which stands out a woman empowered and modern, a fighter, a superhero who is floating above the universe, the real one as much the cinematic one. As he stressed out: “Essentially, the poster is a symbol of the Festival’s intention, which is no other that the constant renegotiation of female representation, both in the real world and behind the camera”.


The Governor of the Region of Central Macedonia, Apostolos Tzitzikostas, took the floor. “I am truly happy that for one more year, we are all here together, and arguably with less problems compared to previous years, to celebrate the opening of the Festival, which by now counts more than six decades of existence. I would like to congratulate the Festival for carrying out such an important work. The volunteers and all those who participate every year in this huge celebration of extroversion for Thessaloniki and Central Macedonia. We, as the Region of Central Macedonia, have been effectively supporting this important institution from the beginning, considering it a point of contact between filmmakers and cinephiles”. Mr. Tzitzikostas referred to the activities of Central Macedonia’s Film Office. “We are in the position to announce that two more film productions begin filming in Thessaloniki. Our goal to place Thessaloniki and Central Macedonia at the heart of global film production, is becoming a reality”. In addition, he also mentioned the contribution of the Film Office to the Agora activities, with the event “Meet the Locations”, where locations of Central Macedonia suitable for filming on the basis of 365 days a year, will be presented to international filmmakers and producers.


The floor was handed once again to Mr. Kapoutzidis, who referred to the song “Ladadika” by Marios Tokas and Filippos Grapsas, which gained fame through Dimitris Mitropanos’ version and magical voice, and which is the soundtrack of this year’s festival spot. Evi Kalogiropoulou, who was awarded in the International Critics’ Week at the Cannes Film Festival for her film On Xerxes’ Throne, is the creator of this year’s spot. “Five women, an old car, gazes filled with stories and the song cover by Kid Moxie, are the elements that compose the meaning of this year’s Festival, which is inclusivity, courage, and of course, Thessaloniki”, Mr. Kapoutzidis mentioned, while the audience had then the chance to enjoy the Festival spot.


The evening went on with the Mayor of Thessaloniki, Konstantinos Zervas, taking the floor. “We have ahead of us eleven days of exquisite screenings and a tribute to Theo Angelopoulos. Perhaps you remember that his first directorial attempt was a documentary about a The Forminx concert given at Palais de Sport in 1965. Angelopoulos has always had as a setting the city of Thessaloniki, a city that loves cinema. A few weeks ago, my office turned into a studio for a very important American film production. In March, we will have the chance to watch this film that was made in our city and refers to it”.


As an Agora Ambassador, Mr. Kapoutzidis referred then to the Agora activities, distinctively stating that “it is not merely the place where dreams are born, but also the place where dreams evolve and are given wings”. The floor was then handed to the Deputy Minister of Interior, Responsible for Macedonia-Thrace, Stavros Kalafatis. “Despite the hardships and the challenges of our time, the curtain is lifted and we are welcoming the Film Festival of the new age. Thessaloniki’s great celebration. The cultural life of the city is interweaved with the Festival. The cinephiles return to the dark auditoriums after the hard years of the pandemic. The lights dim down and the screens come to life, through an institution that stands out every year as a unique cultural event; that is in touch with its era, is inspired by it and is a source of inspiration itself. It endured the crisis, consolidated its power, and today, 63 years later, more mature and more dynamic, with novel collaborations, original tributes and green actions, it is moving forward, realizing goals and ambitions. It is giving a platform to new creators and becomes a channel of communication amongst the cinema people”.


The opening ceremony was concluded by the Festival’s Artistic Director, Orestis Andreadakis, who made an introduction yo the opening film, Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans. “In the film you are about to watch, there is a phrase which I am sure will stay imprinted on your minds and soul. Of course, I will not reveal who says it and why. “In a frame, when the horizon is on the lower part, it is interesting. When the horizon is on the upper part, it is equally interesting. But when the horizon is in the middle, it is boring”. Soon you will understand what exactly is Steven Spielberg trying to tell us with these words, about cinema and about life. About reality and its representation, about the magic of the big screen. The Fabelmans is a wonderful film that reminds us – maybe better than any other film for many years now – the reason why we do this job. Why we love cinema, why we find refuge in poetry, why we keep falling in love before a piece of art or within a dark room. It is probably the personal story of Spielberg himself, who realized at a young age that life always exists behind the mirror of art, and that reality may be nothing more than a small chip of the great mosaic of dreams”.


The 63rd Thessaloniki Film Festival, is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Sports, the ESPA program of the Region of Central Macedonia 2014-2020 and the MEDIA program. We value the support of ERT, the official communication sponsor of the Festival, COSMOTE TV, Grand Sponsor of the Festival, Alpha Bank, accessibility sponsor, Mastercard, official payment card, Aegean, official air carried, Fischer, audience awards sponsor, and Jameson. At the end of the festival, the awards of the 63rd TIFF will be awarded. Enjoy the Screenings!