Eleven days before the start of the event we have the pleasure to contact you again bringing you the latest news from the preparation of this year’s Thessaloniki festival beginning on November 21st. Two hundred films compose this year’s festival programme. Around 1,000 guests are expected to be present including the creative teams from the films presented in the various sections of the event as well as 100 foreign film critics and journalists and their local counterparts. The festival will kick off Friday November 21, with Takeshi Kitano’s Zatoichi. Jim Sheridan’s In America will be the closing film during the awards gala, Saturday November 29.
Additional screenings of the prize winning films as well as films from the retrospectives and tributes will be held on Sunday November 30, a day which will conclude with the National Film Awards ceremony taking place at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall. Foreign guests are welcome to attend. Upon your arrival you are invited to inform the Foreign Press office if you wish to attend this event.
Official Programme The International Competition section programmed by festival director Michel Demopoulos is composed of 14 first or second films by new and emerging directors. It will also feature a number of films presented out of competition and as special screenings. We have already informed you extensively in our first press release September 9, about the sections, retrospectives, homages, spotlights and special events which form, together with the competition, the official programme of the festival (Balkan Survey, Otar Iosseliani, Wong Kar Wai, Joao Cesar Monteiro, Stars of The Steppe, Nikos Panayotopoulos, Balkan Fund).
Additional events recently added to the programme include -Tresors de la Cinematheque Francaise. A special programme presented in association with the prestigious French Cinematheque, composed of 5 films which are part of the Cinematheque’ s archives. From Andre Antoine’s La Hirondelle et la Messange (1920) to Youseff Chahine’s An–Nil Oual Hayat - Un Jour le Nil (1968 ) the films presented will be recently fully restored brand new prints. Check the list of films at the end of this press release for the complete programme of this event.
-Another recently restored film, Astero, the classic Greek production from the silent era directed in 1929 by the late Mihalis Gaziades, will be the object of a special presentation accompanied by live music performed by members of the Giorgos Kouroupos-led Orchestra of Colours. The presentation is in association with the Greek Cinematheque (Tainiothiki Tis Ellados) which restored the film and furnished a brand new print. The score is composed by Mihalis Grigoriou and performed by singer Sabina Giannatou who is also taking part in this collective homage.
-Two more films have been added to the already announced retrospective of Wong Kar Wai. They are, the 59 min. rarely seen Buenos Aires, Zero Degree documentary directed by Amos Lee and Kwan Pun-Leung shot in Argentina while Wong Kar Wai was there preparing and shooting his film Happy Together. The second is Stirred but not Shaken, an Australian Film Financing Corporation documentary-portrait of the celebrated Australian by origin but having adopted Chinese culture DOP Christopher Doyle, his work and his longtime association with Wong Kar Wai.
-The Wong Kar Wai homage will be completed by an exhibition of Chris Doyle’s photo-collages from the director’s films where Doyle served as DOP. Under the evocative title “Why I Am not A Painter” Doyle presents his visually striking photo-collages which illustrate his approach to the cinematic creative process as well as his overall conception of creativity in art. The exhibition includes material from Wong Kar Wai’s eagerly expected new film 2046, actually shooting in Shanghai with Doyle behind the camera. The exhibition featuring 60 works, apart from the photo-collages from Wong Kar Wai’s films, also includes similar material from the Thai production Last Life in the Universe directed by Pen—Ek Ratanaruang, a film which is presented in the Special Screenings section and on which Doyle served as DOP.
-Last but not least is the special presentation of material from Theo Angelopoulos’ new film. This is the first time ever that the international press will have access to parts of Trilogy No 1, The Weeping Meadow, the director’s latest effort, actually in post-production. The presentation will consist of the Turkish film critic-director Necati Sonmez’s videotaped portrait of the director, Theo’s Gaze, related to the shooting of the picture. This will be accompanied by sequences from the film itself, made available by the director. Following the presentation Angelopoulos will offer a press conference related to the film expected to be ready late December. A visit to one of the two main sets of the film, a whole village constructed in the port of Thessaloniki, also forms part of Trilogy No 1, The Weeping Meadow’s avant premiere presentation.
International Jury The seven-member International Jury called to judge the films of the International Competition section and to award the Golden and Silver Alexanders, which are backed by substantial cash prizes -please refer to the September 9 press release-plus a number of additional awards, is formed by, Otar Iosseliani (Georgia), director, President Walter Lassaly (UK), director of photography, Vice-President Tamila Kulieva (Greece-Russia), actress Jafar Panahi (Iran), director Xiaoshuai Wang (China), director Jean-Francois Amiguet (Switzerland), director Samir Farid (Egypt), film critic
Fipresci Jury The seven-member Fipresci Jury called to judge and award films in the International Competition as well as in the New Horizons and the Panorama of Greek films sections is composed by, Peter Keough (USA), President Safaa Haggag (Egypt) Mariola Wiktor (Poland) Marina Kostova (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia-FYROM) Goran Bjelkendal (Sweden) Einar Gulvog Staalesen (Norway) Orestis Andreadakis (Greece)
New Horizons The widely popular New Horizons section, curated by Dimitri Eipides, offers a 45 title-strong selection. Apart from its main section, highlights include tributes to Michael Snow and to Shinya Tsukamoto. The tribute to Michael Snow (Canada), one of the most acclaimed avant-garde artists, will consist of 10 of his films and an exhibition. The exhibition, “Selections from the Spectrum” will take place in the Macedonian Museum of Modern Arts where Michael Snow will introduce some of his most famous art works. Shinya Tsukamoto (Japan), the prolific filmmaker of “Cult-Entertainment” films, a self-styled term patented by the director, shapes his own world through his original and very personal way of creating. Such films as Tetsuo The Iron Man and Tokyo Fist were hailed by the audience and critics alike for their unique vision of the cyber world. The tribute will be comprised of five of his most famous films.
International Guests Among the international guests, apart from those already mentioned in this and the September 9 press release are, Bruno Dumont, Samira Makhmalbaf, Marco Muller, Gordan Mihic, Philippe Bober, Irene Papas, Pjer Zalica, Dervis Zaim, Aktan Abdykalikov, Dareshan Omirbaev, Martine Marignac, Karl Baumgartner, Philippe Avril, Roland Rust, Hulya Ucansu, Peter Scarlet, Jay Jeon.
Greek Cinema The festival is required by law to screen all local films produced during the year in the Panorama of Greek Cinema section. Their screening will entitle them to vie for the National Cinema Awards which will be handed out during a special gala on Sunday, November 30. Twenty three local fiction films plus five full length documentaries, backed by the Greek Film Center and private producers, will be screened this year. Encouraged by the positive response from international guests the festival’s Greek Film Department and the Market Screenings for local productions will operate for the third consecutive year, reserved for international film business executives and foreign press present in Thessaloniki. This effort will also be backed by the large promotional campaign traditionally organized at the festival by the Greek Film Center and its Hellas Film promotion and distribution department. Foreign guests as well will have the opportunity to attend the screenings of short Greek films awarded at this year’s International Short Film Festival in Drama. The festival is organizing a retrospective and an homage to director Nikos Panayotopoulos.
Balkan Fund Aware of Thessaloniki’s role as a European Union member country among its Balkan neighbours as well as of its position as the EU designated head for the plan to reconstruct the Balkans, the festival complements as of this year its highly touted Balkan Survey section with the introduction of the Balkan Fund (Thessaloniki Film Festival Script Development Fund) meant to encourage script development in the countries of the region. The first grants will be announced by a specially set up international jury during the first weekend of the festival following a three day pitching session by the directors/screenwriters of the eleven shortlisted projects.
The projects are, 1. Confession, writer/director/co-producer Goran Radovanovic, producer Jovan Markovic Serbia & Montenegro 2. Dancing on Ice, director/co-writer Stavros Ioannou, writer Marios Pontikas, producer Yorgos Kolozis, Greece 3. Grbavica, writer/ director Jasmila Zbanich, producer Dhamir Ibrahimovic, Bosnia & Herzegovina 4. Judas Treasures, writer /director Maria Douza, producer Eleni Atsikbasis, Greece 5. Next to Jesus, writer/director Tatiana Malo-Botéva; producer Alexander Wawrzyk, Bulgaria co-produced with Belgium 6. Red Horizons, writer/director/producer Igor Sterk, Slovenia 7. Seamstresses, writer/director/producer Ludmil Todorov, Bulgaria 8. Small Crime, writer/director/producer Christos Georgiou, co-writer/co-producer, Cyprus & Serbia & Montenegro 9. The Coat, writer /director Kutlug Ataman, producer Gulen Hurley, Turkey 10. The Journey, writer/director/producer Artan Minarolli, Albania 11. The Ruhr Story/The Forejgners’ Story, director/ co-writer/producer Sergej Stanojkovski, writer Gordan Mihic, Serbia & Montenegro
More exhibitions -The Hellaffi collection of hand-made for cinema giant posters. The exhibition will take place at the Old Customs House at the Thessaloniki port, near the Pier where the festival venues are situated. -Tasos Pavlopoulos’ designs exhibition. Pavlopoulos is the designer of this year’s TIFF official poster. The exhibition will take place at the down town Kalfayan Galerie.
Sponsors -The Public Radio-TV network ERT is again this year the official sponsor of the event. Backers include the Greek Film Center, the Port Authority, Thessaloniki’s International Fairs organization (Helexpo), the Municipality of the city, the Audiovisual Media Institute (IOM) and the Media Plus E.U. programme. Bacardi Hellas-Dewars ,which backs the Audience Awards, heads the list of a number of private sponsors such as Pepsi, Alpha Romeo, the cultural French international channel TV5, the Boutaris wineries and others. The French-German cultural Arte is as of this year also sponsoring the festival. The Ministry for Macedonia and Thrace is sponsoring special additional screenings of films from the festival taking place for the ninth consecutive year in cities of northern Greece. This year the screenings will be held in the cities of Kilkis, Alexandroupolis, Florina, Grevena and Polygyros.
Facilities Facilities available to the festival guests include
-A revamped video room with 20 individual booths. The video room this year will be situated in the Cinema Museum at the Pier (Provlita). All films presented in the festival can also be screened at the video room by interested parties. The facility is however mainly intended for members of the press and for representatives of the local and international film business community attending in the festival.
-To facilitate contacts between the film directors and producers with attending international sales agents and distributors, the festival operates an Industry Office. The persons in charge, working with and through the International Programme Department, have the task of bringing together the different members of the international film business community to encourage sale and acquisition of films present in the Festival.
The Olympion Cinema Complex, which houses the Olympion 1 and Olympion 2-Pavlos Zannas cinema theaters is the site of the official screenings of the Festival. Conveniently located in the city port, within walking distance from the Olympion Cinema Complex and the main hotels where the guests will be housed, is the multimedia cultural center, The Pier (Provlita), which has proven hugely successful with festival guests ever since its inception three years ago.
The Pier includes: -The John Cassavetes, Tonia Marketaki, Frida Liappa and Stavros Tornes theaters where the festival screenings will take place. -The Warehouse C (Apothiki Gama) which will house the Guest and Press Services, as well as the International Program and Foreign Press offices. The Warehouse will also contain the Film Market with the participants’ stands, an Information Desk and a Bookshop. The Festival’s Meeting Point where a restaurant, a coffee shop and bar are to operate during the event can be found in the upper floor of Warehouse C.
-For the first time this year the Administration offices, Public relations and the New Horizons section will operate out of the lounge (Entefktirio) of the Port Authority Administration building (Ktirio Diikisis OLTH) situated diagonally in front of Warehouse C. Following last year’s successful experience an extra cinema theater will again be reserved exclusively for press screenings in the Plateia multiplex situated within walking distance from the Olympion. Responding to increasing demand by the local public for additional festival screenings, another cinema theater, the 1000 —seater Aristoteleion, situated near the city’s landmark, the White Tower (Lefkos Pyrgos), will be added this year to the festival venues. It will mainly cater to the paying patrons of the festival. The festival guests will be furnished upon their accreditation with detailed information as to each cinema theater’s program as well as with instructions concerning the ticketing policy for a number of venues.
Checking in upon arrival in Thessaloniki
1/ For those of you arriving by plane: Once you go through Customs and pick up your luggage, make your way to the main arrivals hall and look for the Film Festival Hospitality Booth. In case you have not been previously informed by our guest service, attendants at the booth will inform you which hotel the Guest Service has booked you in, and they will direct you to buses which will transport guests to their respective hotels. After checking into your hotel room, please go to The Pier, in Warehouse C which houses the Guest Service office. After checking in with the Guest Service, please come to the Foreign Press Service office, also situated in Warehouse C to pick up your bag containing all press-related material.
2/ For those arriving in Thessaloniki either by train or bus: Take a taxi from the respective station either to: -the hotel the Guest Service has registered you with, if you know this before arriving in Thessaloniki. Then, as explained above, make your way to The Pier, the Guest and the Foreign Press Service offices. -or go directly to The Pier, the Guest and the Foreign Press Service offices, if you do not know which hotel you will be staying in. For train and bus passengers, it would be very helpful for the Guest Service to know if you have an estimated time of arrival. Either fax this information to them or give them a call.
Ms Georgou, Stavrinodaki and their team can be reached at the above phone and fax numbers till November 20. Starting November 19 they can also be reached at the Pier, Warehouse C. Direct phone and fax numbers there will be available from that date onwards.