60th Thessaloniki International Film Festival: Closing Ceremony and Awards

60th Thessaloniki International Film Festival || 31/10 – 10/11/2019


60th Thessaloniki International Film Festival: Closing Ceremony and Awards


The 60th Thessaloniki International Film Festival closing ceremony took place on Sunday, November 10th, at a packed Olympion theater, in a festive ambience.

The ceremony was preceded by the General Director of the Festival, Ms. Elise Jalladeau and the Festival’s Artistic Director, Mr. Orestis Andreadakis. “The 60th Thessaloniki International Film Festival was everything we hoped for, and, for that reason, we want to thank everyone who made it happen”, Ms. Jalladeau emphasized. On his part, Mr. Andreadakis thanked the collaborators, the sponsors, the viewers, the volunteers, the organization’s employees, since, as he mentioned, “when the lights turn out, what remains is the employees’ work; what you experienced, it’s them who made it happen.” “We kicked off with ‘Happy Anniversary’, we wrap it up with ‘Many Happy Returns’”, Ms. Jalladeau and Mr. Andreadakis said, concluding their introductory greeting.

The actress Marissa Triantafyllidou and the journalist and film critic Thodoris Koutsogiannopoulos were the ceremony’s hosts. “As a student, I tried to sneak in the closing ceremony with a fake ID just to see the movie; it was years later that I found myself on this very stage, in order to receive an award”, Marissa Triantafyllidou reminisced. Mr. Thodoris Koutsogiannopoulos referred to the Agora awards, presented on Friday: 11 awards were presented in total, for services and prizes of a total value of 200,000 euros. “As we all know, what happens in the Agora corridors paves the way for the cinema of the future: this year, 550 meetings took place between producers, directors and buyers. Let us remind you that in the 60th Festival, 12 films of the official program started their journey from the Agora section”, Mr. Koutsogiannopoulos observed.

The Fischer audience awards got things underway as Yiannis Georgakellos, communications and corporate affairs director of the Athenian Brewery, presented them by congratulating the Festival’s team “for the flawless organization of this institution that has been a reference point for cinema and Thessaloniki over the last 60 years”. He went on to say that “Fischer supports the Festival for 13 years now. So, I would like to say a big thank you to all of you and to the thousands of viewers that filled the theaters, as well as to the 19,000 people who honored with their vote the films and the Fischer Audience Awards.”

The FISCHER AUDIENCE AWARD for the Greek Film Festival 2019 section – Michael Cacoyannis Award was given to SIEGE ON LIPERTI STREET by STAVROS PAMBALLIS, Greece – Cyprus. The actress Dafni Alexander received the award by saying that “the film director worked hard, with motivation, generosity and love.”

The FISCHER AUDIENCE AWARD for the International Competitive sections was given to: DEFUNCT by ZACHARIAS MAVROEIDIS, Greece. The director thanked the audience and the Festival and expressed his hope that the award will help the film reach a wider audience in theaters.

The FISCHER AUDIENCE AWARD for the Balkan Survey section was given to WHAT A COUNTRY! By VINKO BRESAN, Croatia - Serbia – Poland, while for the Open Horizons section the award went to THE SWALLOWS OF KABUL by ZABOU BREITMAN, ELEA GOBBÉ - MEVELLEC, France.

The HUMAN VALUES AWARD, established by the Hellenic Parliament TV Channel, that bestows its award to a film of the International Competition section, followed. The jury is comprised by Aris Fatouros (program consultant), Kostas Dimos (head of programming) and Vassilis Douvlis (film director). The award was given to BEWARE OF CHILDRE by DAG JOHAN HAUGERUD, Norway – Sweden, “a film that, on the occasion of a student’s death, dissects modern society, highlighting hidden secrets, guilt and human weakness and redefines the meaning of responsibility, forgiveness and humanism, in an increasingly complex contemporary world”, as the deputy, Ms. Olga Kefalogianni said, who bestowed the award. Ms. Kefalogianni congratulated the festival’s organizers on behalf of the President of Parliament by mentioning that “the Festival grew up but is capable of grasping new trends in cinema”. On his part, the Norwegian director received the award and called it “a major distinction that came as a surprise”.

For yet another year the YOUTH JURY AWARDS were bestowed; this year’s jury was comprised by the students Maria Amanatidou, Argyris Zilos, Orestis Makris, Constantina-Athina Tsironi, and Yiannis Stamatiou (president). Mr. Stamatiou bestowed the Special Youth Jury Award to THE MIRACLE OF THE SARGASSO SEA by SYLLAS TZOUMERKAS, Greece – Germany - The Netherlands – Sweden “for its inventiveness, originality, and its range of characters”, according to the committee’s reasoning. The actress Angeliki Papoulia received the award.

The YOUTH JURY AWARD Best Feature Film Award was bestowed to DEFUNCT by ZACHARIAS MAVROEIDIS, Greece “a film with a human and rare gaze, concerning research, understanding, heading towards an uncertain future”, as was mentioned in the rationale. Zacharias Mavroeidis received the award in high spirits and said “this is an award bestowed by young people and it is exactly young people, twenty-year-olds, the greatest wager for this film.”

For the first time this year the Thessaloniki International Film Festival hosts a new distinction, THE “J.F. COSTOPOULOS FOUNDATION” AWARD; the members of this year’s judging panel were: Maria Katsounaki (journalist), Eva Stefani (filmmaker) and George Frentzos (cinematographer). The 3,000-euro cash prize for a film in the Greek Film Festival 2019 section went to: NOT TO BE UNPLEASANT, BUT WE NEED TO HAVE A SERIOUS TALK by GIORGOS GEORGOPOULOS, Greece. The award was bestowed by Ektoras Verykios, member of the BoD of the J.F. Costopoulos Foundation, who explained that the award is a work of art, made by the vice-president of the Foundation, Ms. Dafni Kostopoulou, and added that “this beautiful tradition will continue next year”. The director Giorgos Georgopoulos received the award and thanked the Foundation and the Festival for the distinction.

The Award by the Greek Chapter of WIFT (Women in Film & Television) for the best woman's contribution and presence in front or behind the camera was the one to follow. The WIFT GR Award jury was comprised of WIFT GR members Rea Walden (film theorist/ filmmaker) Lena Rammou (managing director of the MFI) and Manina Zoumboulaki (screenwriter, novelist and journalist) and bestowed the award to COSMIC CANDY by RINIO DRAGASAKI, Greece “for a brave view on difference, and loneliness, solidarity, friendship, and responsibility, transformative experiences for a female gaze on a multiple coming of age journey and recovery from addiction”, as Ms. Rammou said. Receiving the award, Ms. Rinio Dragasaki noted that the majority of the contributors to the film were women, “a positive thing since it was not a matter of quota, but came along naturally”, as she said.

Next was the THE GREEK FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION (PEKK) AWARD for the best Greek film in the 60th Thessaloniki International Film Festival, that was bestowed by the President of the Association, Mr. Vassilis Kechagias to the film SIEGE ON LIPERTI STREET by STAVROS PAMBALLIS, Greece – Cyprus. According to the rationale, the award was bestowed to the film “for the integrity of the direction, that, through realism and humor, undermines the traditional model of the action movie and at the same time connects the 1974 Turkish invasion to the financial crisis of the last decade – a lesson in small-scale filmmaking.” The actress Dafni Alexander received the award, thanking the Greek Film Center and the Cyprus Ministry of Education; she dedicated the award to special effects specialist Michalis Samiotis, who passed away recently.

The awards by the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) were then bestowed; the jury was comprised of: Kristin Aalen, President, Norway, Hauvick Habéchian, Lebanon, Dimitris Bampas, Greece. Mr. Allen gave the award for a film in the International Competition to: BEWARE OF CHILDREN by DAG JOHAN HAUGERUD, Norway – Sweden, and emphasized: “we have witnessed a lot of revenge movies, yet this film gives us another understanding and conciliatory perspective. Dag Johan Haugerud thanked for the award, the second one he received during the award ceremony.

The FIPRESCI award for a film in the Greek Film Festival 2019 section (premiere) was given to: SIEGE ON LIPERTI STREET by STAVROS PAMBALLIS, Greece – Cyprus, “a film showing that the financial crisis pushes people to suffering”, as Ms. Allen said. Ms. Dafni Alexander received the award and expressed the hope that this distinction “will make us share the film with a larger audience.”

ERT S.A. (HELLENIC BROADCASTING CORPORATION) bestowed this year two awards. The first one, accompanied by a 3,000-euro cash prize, went to the Greek film that won the Fischer Audience Award, SIEGE ON LIPERTI STREET by STAVROS PAMBALLIS, Greece – Cyprus. The same film, SIEGE ON LIPERTI STREET by STAVROS PAMBALLIS, Greece – Cyprus , was also awarded a 2,000-euro cash prize as it was the Greek film that won the FIPRESCI Award. Alexandros Kander-Bax, General Director of ERT3, bestowed the awards, and congratulated the Festival “because it offers the city for sixty years now its most cherished moments”, as he said. Leaving the stage, the actress that received the second award, was the victim of a cute…accident: her heel got stuck on the Olympion stage and the event’s hosts rushed to free it, receiving a strong applause from the audience.

The awards given by the Greek Film Center followed; the Greek debut film award was given to RINIO DRAGASAKI for COSMIC CANDY, Greece ex aequo with: COSTAS ATHOUSAKIS for PERSEPHONE, Greece. The 5,000-euro cash prize, was given by the Promotion Manager of the Greek Film Center, Mr. Constantinos Aivaliotis, who expressed his joy for the collaboration with the Festival and its developmental action through the Agora. He emphasized: “This year we decided to bestow the award to two creators who, despite limitations and adversities, had the courage to support through their work two film genres of high order that do not commonly appear in Greek filmography. Rinio Dragasaki received the award and noted that: “the advantage for a first-time director is that he or she will not know what he or she will go through in order to complete the film”, while the actress Ms. Elsa Lekakou received the award for the film Persephone.

The Best Location Award, bestowed to location managers (or to directors, in case there is no location manager in the film’s crew) by the GFC’s Hellenic Film Commission, was given to MINOS NIKOLAKAKIS for ENTWINED, Greece – UK. “The screenplay on paper did not ask for much: a village, a wood and an isolated house. But which village, which wood and which isolated house are the ones that will make the difference?” said Ms. Venia Vergou, Director of the Hellenic Film Commission, who awarded the 1,500-euro cash prize. Ms. Vergou also drew attention to the fact that the Festival tries to make all screenings accessible by everybody. Mr. Minos Nikolakakis, receiving the award, explained that: “Location is the film’s subject, its protagonist, together with all the talented people that were summoned for making it.”

It was then the turn for the VR VIRTUAL REALITY award. The 3,000 euro award for Best Film is kindly sponsored by the Greek Film Centre. The jury of the VR Films Competition section was comprised of Simon Johansen, film critic and documentary filmmaker, Babis Makridis, director and Irini Vianelli, director and animator, and bestowed Special Mention to the film FAMILY PORTRAITS by MARIA MAVROPOULOU, Greece, and the award for Best Film to PASSENGER by ISOBEL KNOWLES, VAN SOWERWINE, Australia, that “takes on the refugee crisis with old-school aesthetics in a new environment”, according to the committee.

The Mermaid Award, an independent award for the best LGBTQI-themed film, followed. The award was bestowed by a three-member critical committee, comprised this year of Konstantina Kotzamani (director), Elad Samorzik (artistic director of the Jerusalem Film Festival) and Boyd van Hoeij (film critic). A Special Mention was given to SONG WITHOUT A NAME by MELINA LEON, Peru - Spain – USA “for a new cinematic voice full of finesse and empathy for its marginalized characters”, as Mr. Elad Samorzik put it. Melina Leon received the award and was touched, since, as she put it, “it was a rather difficult process for me to put together this film”. Ms. Konstantina Kotzamani gave the Mermaid Award to MOFFIE by OLIVER HERMANUS, South Africa – UK, “for its intelligent cinematic approach to an emotional story in a much wider historical and political context”, according to the rationale.

Yet another award was bestowed for the Meet the Neighbors section, which premiered in this year’s Festival, with first- or second-feature films coming from Southeastern Europe, the East Mediterranean and the Middle East. The Golden Alexander award – Meet the Neighbors (5,000 euro) was given to TLAMESS by ALA EDDINE SLIM, Tunisia – France. The announcement was made by the jury, which was comprised of Tarik Aktaş, director, Pamela Biénzobas, film consultant and critic and Maria Kriara, visual artist. “Today it is a luminous day, and at the same time we feel sad because the Festival is turning off its lights, but we renew our rendez-vous for the dawn of its seventh decade”, noted the Mayor of Thessaloniki, Mr. Konstantinos Zervas, who gave the award, labeling it “especially significant, since culture enlarges our neighborhood.” Mr. Zervas drew special attention to the Nikos Koundouros Exhibition that takes place at the former nursery facilities (Thessaloniki Docks), in the framework of the 60th Festival. Ala Eddine Slim sent a thank you message via video, while the film’s producer Julliette Lepoutre said that she would give the award to the director as a birthday present.

The ceremony went on with the awards of The International Jury of the 60th Thessaloniki International Film Festival, that this year was comprised of: Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, film director, Lithuania, Jacqui Davies, producer, UK, Ariane Labed, actress, France, Angeliki Papoulia, actress, Greece, Wieland Speck, filmmaker – author - curator, Germany.

The Best Actor Award, announced by Wieland Speck, was given to AMADOR ARIAS for FIRE WILL COME by Oliver Laxe, Spain - France – Luxemburg. Amador Arias sent a thank you message via video and noted that “awards are like light at the end of the road.”

The Best Actress Award was given to GRETA FERNANDEZ for A THIEF’S DAUGHTER by Belén Funes, Spain.

As Mr. Thodoris Koutsogiannopoulos said, “this award, in the year 1983, was given to Sotiria Leonardou, who passed away on Friday; this is a great loss, and her performance in the film Rembetiko is unsurpassable.” Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė bestowed the award that was received by director Belén Funes who expressed her joy for the fact that the film found distribution in our country and will be screened in the near future.

The Special Jury Award for Best Director - Bronze Alexander, announced by Ariane Labed, was given to MELINA LEON for SONG WITHOUT A NAME, Peru - Spain – USA. The Peruvian director received the award and dedicated it “to our Chilean neighbors who fight on the streets”, as she said.

The Special Jury Award - Silver Alexander (8,000 euro) was given to the film THE FEVER by MAYA DA-RIN, Brazil - France – Germany. The award was given by Angeliki Papoulia. The award was received by the producer Ms. Julliette Lepoutre who explained that the director (absent because she recently gave birth to triplets) has a first-hand knowledge of this region in the Amazon where the film was made “with hard work and lots of love in a difficult period for Brazil.” She concluded her greeting with the motto “Lula libre”, a reference to the ex-President of Brazil Lula da Silva who was released from prison some days ago.

The Best Full-length Feature Film Award - Golden Alexander “Theo Angelopoulos” (15,000 euro) was bestowed to the film FIRE WILL COME by OLIVER LAXE, Spain - France – Luxemburg, “a film that stood out for its unique artistic vision that guided us through a natural and affective journey of breathtaking tableaux and beauty”, as the producer Jacqui Davis said, who received (as a producer) the Golden Alexander last year for the film Ray & Liz.

The award was given by the General Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and Sports. Mr. Nicholas Yatromanolakis, who emphasized: “First of all, I would like, too, to congratulate the Festival not only for its 60 years, but for this year also, for all the work put together by its people, whether voluntarily, or professionally, Mr. Orestis Andreadakis, Ms. Elise Jalladeau and the board of directors, who collaborated in a harmonious manner in order to present to us not only the present of the Greek and international cinema but also prepare for its future through the Agora and other activities. I want to say how glad I am witnessing a jury committee composed mostly by women, bound to cast an outside-the-box view on contemporary filmography.”

After the awards ceremony, the film Jojo Rabbit by Taika Waititi was screened, courtesy of Odeon SA.

The ceremony was simultaneously translated in sign language.