The Agora of the 64th Thessaloniki Film Festival bestowed its awards at a special event held on Wednesday, November 8th. The head of the Agora, Angeliki Vergou, welcomed the audience and stated: "It’s been a very productive 6 days full of meetings, screenings, and hopefully new collaborations. We hope you enjoyed your stay in Thessaloniki and that you go back home happy with your experience. We are sure we will watch your wonderful films in the dark room of a theater and / or on a big or smaller screen in the comfort of our own house. We wish success on all levels and we wish to see you back here in Thessaloniki with your finished films."
Then, Elise Jalladeau, general director of the Festival, took the floor. "I am extremely grateful for yet another year. I just want to thank all of you for coming and spending time with us, the juries, the participants, our partners and sponsors as well as the entire Festival staff, naturally. I would also like to call to your attention a new initiative we launched last year. This year marks the second one for the Agora Series section and besides the very interesting panels and talks we had; we are also introducing Meet the Future, a presentation featuring the new generation of screenwriters from Greece who will be responsible for providing us with great series in the future. Thank you."
Next, the artistic director of the Festival, Orestis Andreadakis, spoke about the role of the Agora ambassador, explaining that their purpose is "to communicate with the larger audiences, press and institutions what Agora is all about and how it supports and promotes the audiovisual sector," he clarified. "Legendary performer Haris Alexiou has done us the honor of representing Agora," he later added, inviting the 'grand dame of Greek song' to the stage, while describing her tremendous career briefly.
Immediately afterwards, the great Haris Alexiou, ambassador of this year's Agora, addressed the audience. "Being next to the new generation and supporting them is something that is very much in my interest. This is why I accepted this challenge and I hope to bring some light to AGORA and the important work that is happening here. I have watched all the project presentations and I am very curious to see what the juries decided. No matter what, the experience is all that counts and the connections you made here in Thessaloniki. Good luck to everyone and I look forward to seeing your films soon!"
Following this, Thanos Stavropoulos of the Agora team, welcomed to the stage the members of SEE Cinema Network, Ilinka Mihailescu Teodorescu and Kamen Balkanski, who went on to announce the projects that received funding from SEE Cinema Network. Kamen Balkanski initially welcomed the audience and offered a brief overview of SEE Cinema Network's activities. "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. It is with great pleasure that we announce the first awards of the South Eastern Europe Cinema Network. Our 36th General Assembly took place today during which we discussed 14 projects, 7 of which were selected to receive our support. However, before announcing the winners, I would like to encourage colleagues from the countries of the South Eastern Europe Film Network to come to Thessaloniki Film Festival. SEE Cinema Network is a long-standing network, but one that is filled with young people, as you can see. It has been operating for 21 years in the audiovisual industry and serving the professionals in the Balkan countries".
The projects that are supported are:
THE CONSEQUENCES OF FREEDOM
Director: Lorin Terezi, Delegate Producer: TUNNELFILM LTD, Co-producing countries: Albania, Greece
Director: Yordan Petkov, Delegate Producers: PORTOKAL, GARTI FILMS, Co-producing countries: Bulgaria, Greece
MY NAME IS LILY
Director: Yianna Americanou, Delegate Producer: MERAKI FILMS, Co-producing countries: Cyprus, Greece, Luxembourg
MY SOUL STARTLED
Director: Syllas Tzoumerkas, Delegate Producer: Homemade Films SMPC, Co-producing countries: Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Austria, France
FOUR FUNERALS AND A WEDDING
Director: Nikola Mijovic, Delegate Producer: Parangal Film, Co-producing countries: Montenegro, Serbia, North Macedonia.
Director: Marija Apcevska, Delegate Producer: DFPM KINO OKO d.o.o.e.l, Co-producing countries: North Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia
DON’T LET ME DIE
Director: Andrei Epure, Delegate Producer: Saga Film, Co-producing countries: Romania, France, Bulgaria
The introductory remarks were concluded by the head of the Agora, Angeliki Vergou, who thanked the filmmakers, the professionals who participated in the Agora, as well as all those who helped to make the Agora of this year's 64th Thessaloniki Film Festival a success. “I would like to thank all the participants that trusted us with their projects and all the industry professionals that chose Thessaloniki to discover new talents. We hope you had great meetings and that you leave from here full of joy, having gained constructive feedback. Before we kick this off a few thank yous are in order. Agora is a collective effort and we would like to thank our Festival colleagues from the Administration, the Film Departments Greek and International, the Guest Department, the IT Department, the Communication Department, the Audiovisual Department, the Sustainability team and last but not least the Agora Team, our production team and of course our volunteers!”
The presentation of the Agora Awards commenced promptly afterwards:
CROSSROADS CO-PRODUCTION FORUM
The jury of Crossroads Co-Production Forum was composed of:
Bassam Alasad, producer, Creative Media Solutions - Jordan, Britta Rindelaub, producer, Alva Film - Switzerland, Lina Yannopoulou, producer, Argonauts Productions - Greece and Rémi Burah, CEO, Arte France Cinéma - France.
Two Thirty-Five (2|35) Award - Post-production (image and sound) was bestowed to:
Directors / Scriptwriters: Maria Hatzakou, Alexandra Matheou, Producer: Maria Hatzakou - Merricat, Greece
The reasoning of the jury: The duo of female writers and directors convinced the Jury with their very solid and persuasive project. By creatively using folk elements in a modern depiction of woman transgenerational and collective trauma. And using the horror genre as a playful pretext to metabolize into a very important story that addresses freedom of choice in a patriarchal society.
"I would like to express my gratitude. First of all, to the team for trusting and bringing us here. Thank you, it’s been a great pleasure. Many thanks to my other half - my other half in writing, Alexandra, Angeliki and the jury, because the award will be of great help to our project. Hopefully, we will be able to showcase our film here," Maria Hatzakou remarked, as she received the award.
The 8,000-euro award for script development bestowed by CNC - Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée:
The reasoning of the jury: For a very fresh, inventive and provocative way in approaching the theme of friendship and the fear of losing it. A slasher film that does not glorify the murderer and where the female characters are not the first to die. For a proposal that sublimates the genre references with strong visuals and humor. The award goes to a project by Greek duo directors, Lida Vartzioti and Dimitris Tsakaleas for the film:
FRIENDS, BIRTHDAYS, MURDER, ETC
Directors / Scriptwriters: Lida Vartzioti, Dimitris Tsakaleas, Production: Ioanna Bolomyti - Atalante Productions SA, Greece
Dimitris Tsakaleas accepted the award and made the following statement: "Thank you very much. I am delighted. I am extremely grateful both to the jury and to you, Angeliki, for providing us with the opportunity to spend quality time in Thessaloniki. Thank you very much. We are very excited."
The Greener Screen Consultancy Award was given to:
AND ME TOO
Director / Scriptwriter: Sondos Shabayek, Production: Kesmat Elsayed - SEERA FILMS Gmbh / See Media Production, Germany, Egypt
The reasoning of the jury: Greener Screen consultancy award goes to a film that has what it takes to be produced in a green manner; Greener Screen decided to award this film for its powerful social timely message that it's very local yet it's an issue women face all around the world.
The Greener Screen Consultancy Award comes with a €7,000 worth consulting services alongside a tailored green production plan for the winning project, virtual training for the eco-manager on this plan, continuous support for the eco-manager during production alongside optional “Greener Script” consultancy sessions for the writer, director, and producer.
"I am very grateful to be here. The person I would like to thank the most is my producer as this was our very first creation together. It's very challenging to hold a microphone at times like this. I would just like to remind you that all lives are of value. And because of this fact, it is crucial that I urge you all to support the call for a ceasefire," said the winner of the award, Sondos Shabayek.
The ArteKino International Award with a cash prize of 6,000 euros, was bestowed to:
Director / Scriptwriter: Alina Șerban, Producer: Ada Solomon - microFILM, Romania
The reasoning of the jury: We decided to support a project leaded by a complementary duo, combining the strength and professional experience of its producer with the energy and life experience of its young director, with already well deployed talents, proposing to use her personal journey to bring a strong story of the growing of a young woman at the first crossroad of her life.
"I apologize for being so emotional. I am standing before you as someone who has survived in order to tell a story. I made a film that means so much to me and I hope that it will build bridges between us. Even being selected here is already an award for me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for choosing me. Everything I experienced here has given me strength. I really hope that one day we will celebrate this movie together" commented director Alina Serban, upon receiving the award.
The Finos Film 3,000-euro award was granted to a Greek project by Agora's ambassador, Haris Alexiou.
The reasoning of the jury: The jury was convinced by the powerful and very precise manner the writer/director presented to us her vision of a post-apocalyptic western. Set in a near future and a universe of high contrasts where nature is a protagonist too. In which love between a father and a son is a revolutionary act. The Award goes to:
Director / Scriptwriter: Isabella Margara, Production: Kyriaki Virou - AbFab Productions, Greece
"I was telling Haris when we met at the presentation that I have a 20-month-old daughter, who I put to sleep with her song 'Ki Ego San Poli'. Thank you very much," mentioned Isabella Margara, as she accepted the award.
The Producer’s Network Accreditation to next year’s Cannes Marche du Film was awarded to:
Producer Anna Szijártó from the project:
Director: Anna Korom, Scriptwriters: Anna Korom, András Soós, Producer: Anna Szijártó - Kinomoto Kft., Hungary
“The Jury hopes The Producer’s Network Accreditation for Cannes Film Market will support the brave young producer to find the allies to make this courageous film come true.”
Producer Anna Szijártó collected the award, saying: "Thank you very much. I really appreciate this award. I am a little too emotional, I think, as this is exactly the support we were hoping for by coming here. I really appreciate your decision and your support. We will also be renewing our appointment with most of you online. Thank you very much once again."
The Mediterranean Film Institute Award - Script 2 Film Workshop Scholarship was awarded to the film:
Director: Anna Korom, Scriptwriters: Anna Korom, András Soós, Producer: Anna Szijártó - Kinomoto Kft., Hungary
The reasoning of the jury: For fighting the bullying of perfection.
"Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to be here. It has been a wonderful week, full of interesting meetings and a lot of assistance. And yes, I just wanted to say that in times like these in Hungary, it is really important to feel that you are a European citizen," Anna Szijártó expressed.
The Initiative Film Award - Consultations to one project was given to the film:
SO THE LOVERS COULD COME OUT AGAIN
Director / Scriptwriter: George Peter Barbari, Production: Christelle Younes - Bee On Set Productions, Lebanon
The reasoning of the jury: We’ve decided to award a powerful story told through two characters and one single location, an important testimony from the past that resonates now more than ever.
The EAVE Award - Marketing Workshop Scholarship was granted to:
Ioanna Bolomyti (Atalante Films, Greece)
"I would like to thank the jury, Angeliki Vergou and the representatives of the programme. You are doing great work. Next year you are going to be very proud," commented the recipient of the award, Ioanna Bolomyti.
The Onassis Film Award – with a cash-prize of 10,000 euros was granted to a Greek project participating in the Agora’s Works in Progress section for this year.
The reasoning of the jury: This year's Onassis Award goes to a project which stood out for its bold point of view, its aesthetic and its unique narrative world built from simple, every-day elements, and whose scenes somehow haunted us long after the screening. The award goes to the film:
Director/Scriptwriter: Daniel Bolda, Producer: Nicholas Alavanos - Filmiki Productions
Co-producer: Daniel Bolda – Edelweiss, Greece
Daniel Bolda accepted the award, stating the following: "So thank you very much. The award is really valuable for our project. Thank you very much. It's brilliant."
WORKS IN PROGRESS AWARDS
The jury of Works in Progress was composed of:
Rémi Bigot, Head of the Semaine de la Critique, France, Anna Germanidi, Director of Exhibition and Programming, Modern Films, UK, Markéta Šantrochová, Head of the Czech Film Center, Czech Republic.
Authorwave Post-Production Award - Creative Services
The reasoning of the jury: For the maturity of the director’s execution, the confident choreography of individual scenes and the authenticity with which the complex relationship of the main characters is depicted., the award goes to:
Director: Filip Peruzović, Scriptwriters: Filip Peruzović, Nikolina Bogdanović, Producer: Tena Gojić - Dinaridi Film, Croatia
Upon receiving the award, director Filip Peruzović was quoted saying: "Thank you all very much, we did not expect it, we are truly happy. Thank you for advancing our work. Special thanks to Thanos and Elena for organizing everything efficiently, and to Isabelle and Hakim for guiding us through this whole process. I also wish to express my gratitude to my colleagues, because we operate in a spirit of camaraderie and not in a competitive manner."
Producer Tena Gojić further added: "It felt really nice to be part of this creative community, since we all struggle so hard. It has been great getting to know all these great people and their upcoming films, I thank them very much as well. It's a great joy to be part of such a competition where so many remarkable projects participate. None of us expected this great honor. We are grateful to the organizers, we experienced great confidence and peace of mind during these days."
MuSou Music Group Award - Sound/music post-production services.
The reasoning of the jury: For its ambitious narrative structure, its depiction of a contemporary tragic story that feels grounded in reality, its careful attention to its characters, and the thrilling feeling to have met a new voice, the award goes to:
BONDS, ROOTS AND PASSIONS
Director: Sunay Terzioğlu, Scriptwriter: Ferit Karahan, Producer: Timur Harzadın - Denge Yapim ve Danışmanlık, Türkiye
Director Sunay Terzioğlu, the award winner, said: "Hello everyone. We are so happy to be here, this is our first festival, so this in itself is a milestone for us. First film, first festival, first award. Thank you very much. Special thanks to the people of the festival, who are the reason we are here tonight. The organization has been amazing."
The film's producer, Timur Harzadın, was quick to add: "This is my first award, which evokes very particular emotions within me. Thank you very much for everything. I love you."
119 Marvila Studios Award - Sound mixing services
For its self-assured filmmaking, the social relevance of its multi-ethnic representation and the beautiful portrayal of the growing intimacy between characters, the award goes to:
Director/Scriptwriter: Sophie Artus, Producers: Yochanan Kredo, Linor Lavi - July August Productions
The recipient of the award, Sophie Artus, had the following to share: "Thank you very much. Thank you to the Festival, thank you for your kindness. This week was something very special for me, especially after the horrible events of the war. My film is all about motherhood and I just wanted to say that my heart goes out to all the mothers suffering right now. I hope to return to Thessaloniki very soon. I also hope all hostages return safely home soon".
Asterisk* Marketing Award - Consultation on Marketing Strategy & PK Content
The reasoning of the jury: The award goes to a project that fascinated us with its strong visual identity and emotional storytelling. That is:
Director: Aristotelis Maragkos, Scriptwriters: Aristotelis Maragkos, Chrysoula Korovesi, Producer: Konstantinos Koukoulis – ΠLANKTON , Greece
Konstantinos Koukoulis, collecting the award, remarked: "Thank you all so very much. Everyone says the same thing, but it's absolutely true. I won't stop recommending the Works in Progress section. I reckon I reckon it's the best place to start, getting all the support you need for the completion of your film. Thank you so much."
The ERT Agora Works in Progress Award with a cash prize of 2,000 euros is given to a Greek project.
The reasoning of the jury: For its intimate and tender depiction of a lonesome man, its eerie, feverish and magical atmosphere in this low-fi odyssey of companionship, the award goes to:
Director/Scriptwriter: Daniel Bolda, Producer: Nicholas Alavanos, Christina Stavropoulou - Filmiki Productions, Co-producer: Daniel Bolda – Edelweiss, Greece
Award winner, Daniel Bolda stated: "I would like to express my sincere appreciation; It will really be a great help to the film. The reception of the film seems promising, these are our first steps. Therefore, thank you! Therefore, thank you."
The Crew United award was also bestowed within the framework of the section Meet the Future of Agora. According to the jury's statement, “The Crew United Prize is awarded to the writer-director Neritan Zinxhiria for the coherence, consistency and precision with which he presented to us both his work so far and the series (content, script and directorial approach), which he is currently developing. The winner receives a 5-year Premium membership subscription on Crew United, the leading online networking platform.”
"Thanks, that's amazing. Once again, thank you, Agora," noted Neritan Zinxhiria.