47th THESSALONICA FILM FESTIVAL Written by Giannis Frangoulis Translated by Konstantinos Vassilaros A FINAL CRITICAL ASSESSMENT OF THE FILM FESTIVAL

Ten full days, films, press interviews, parallel events, parties, an intense life every visitor of the Thessalonica Festival will have to experience. However, it’s impossible for someone to have the time to experience everything that happens here. All the events that took place were in a small radius; from the harbor all the way up to the Navarinos Piazza. The harbor has four rooms, “The Frinta Liappa”, and “The Tonia Marketaki” in one building, “John Cassavettes” and “Stavros Tornes” in another one. The women in one and the men in the other. Close to the harbor lies the “Warehouse A” housing the Festival offices, the Press offices, various kiosks of associations or companies, and a coffee shop on the top floor. The Museum of Cinema in Thessalonica nearby as well as the Industry Center increases the cluster of festival spaces and venues found on the harbor. All these spaces used to be old warehouses, and they were turned into big and functional spaces offering the people an easy access to the Festival’s events. The Industry Centre is the only non-permanent and provisional construction of the whole establishment. The Industry Centre replaced the Market venue which operated till last year, which used to be near the entry of the harbour. This year inside the Industry Centre a very important initiative took place. The Market venue co-exists with the Industry Centre, allowing people to watch films from video or DVD, but also offer them a space for conferences, where they can drink a coffee while discussing with the directors, producers and distributors from the different countries of world. A little further, heading towards the White Tower, in Aristotelous Plaza inside the now privately-owned space of the Festival, on the fifth floor we can find the rooms “Olympion” and the smaller room “Pavlos Zannas”. As well as some offices and two coffee shops. Both Opening and Closing ceremonies took place in the “Olympion” theatre. Continuing our journey, near the Navarinou Piazza, one can find the cinema “Vakouras”, with two screening rooms, recently renovated, where various films were screened, especially all the Chinese productions.


Very close to the space where all the press interviews occurred, is the Press Office. A very convenient space for the journalists, yet there weren’t sufficient number of computers to satisfy the needs of all the journalists. If I am not mistaken there were not more than 30 PC and Mac’s together. If someone calculated all the journalists from the entire world that were present, you can imagine that the chaos that occurred in order to secure a place to quickly write and send our texts. With this chaotic atmosphere one must add the sweating and the breathing of hot air due to the very warm weather and the excessive heat of the period. The fellow colleagues that worked there were very helpful to each other and the system with the personalized mailboxes was very clever and useful; however my only proposition for next year is that the numbers on each box should be replaced with the names of each journalist, making easier for someone to place the correct materials in the right box, without overloading the employees at the Press Office. The special screenings for the journalists were also of great help to all. For even better results it would be wise to allow them to purchase tickets for the following day as well, in order to help their work to be done with less stress, since the anticipation of watching all the films on time cause them a lot of anxiety. This could be offered only to the privileged ‘card’ owners and not to the journalists! GIGANTIC PROPORTIONS The gigantic characteristic, since 1992 that I first went to the Festival, is a disadvantage. It is still not comprehended that good and qualitative cinema is not relevant to quantity. If fewer films were screened and less activities happened no one would complain. At the Festival no one was able to see everything and it was difficult for people to make the essential choices. During the same time frame, seven films were playing at the same time and it is obvious that some people would end up stressing and wondering “Which film to choose first?”. A lot of homages and tributes did not have adequate spectators not because the artists honored did not deserve it, but because the priorities of the public were different; obviously they preferred to watch newer films than older ones. A proposal to this problem is to evenly share all these very interesting homages and tributes throughout the year and screen them both in Athens and Thessalonica. This way we would have the creation of a strong cinema-friendly audience in both cities and as a consequence a new tendency and desire for quality cinema that would deviate from the dominating mainstream cinema. This is the Festival’s role: to shape cinematographic tendencies, propose to the audience new, original and pioneering work, create discussions and debates where the public can speak with the filmmakers and those involved in the film world, for example the filmmakers themselves, the film theorists, the cinema critics and the historians of cinema. This “gigantism” of the Festival with its new administration does not serve and accomplish to satisfy any of these aims. SHORT AND FEATURE FILMS Along with the feature films, short films, not only the ones awarded at the Drama Short Film Festival 2006, were also screened at the Thessalonica Festival inside the Museum of Cinema, on Monday of 27 November. This event took place for the first time this year and it was an initiative made by the Association for distribution of short films, called “Mikro”, with great success. The aim was to show to the public of Thessalonica all the short films and not only the ones that were awarded. Those who organized the event intended for an overall briefing for the public. After the end of the Festival the screenings continued for some extra days in order to allow the people who missed the films to enjoy them in a more relaxing atmosphere. However this was very difficult, since many Thessalonians cinema-lovers left their work and jobs for the duration of the Festival and they had to return to them as soon as the Festival finished.


As we have already stated, the opening ceremony took place with no major problems. We have of course to report the few seats offered to the journalists while the officials and the VIP guests were all sorted in their royal seats; some said that they were giving out invitations with no limits. We did not believe them but we could see the problem. Something similar took place at the closing ceremony. This time on top of the other problems we had the problem of entering the building. From the adjacent doors, or from central doors? The central doors were blocked by people and no one could enter in time to get a seat! The security people didn’t know anything along with the person in charge of safety. Finally, after an annoying delay, the person in charge of the Press Office took charge and they let us in. Lucky us!! The closing ceremony was a continuation of the opening ceremony, with the same “artistic” video piece, Maximou lost in her own words, and Pyrpasopoulos trying to make things work as much as he could. The politicians and the people in charge of the Festival gave us empty speeches, which themselves did not even believe in… … and they lived happily ever after, and at the party next door they burned the place down, so they told me. I did not have the courage to go there!


At the Industry Center the Meeting of the Institute for Audiovisual Means (I.A.M.) took place. The Executive Director of the Institute is Mr. Rodolfos Moronis. He succinctly described the Greek support for cinema from the television, pointing out the incomplete legislative efforts to engrave and set limits between the cinema and television, the lack of dialogue between the institutions and the state and the particular conditions that prevail in these two industries. His opinion was that the only thing I.A.M. could offer is to undertake an initiative in order to bring the two industries together in a table of dialogue, with the hope that from the discussions an acceptable description of the terms and processes will result. With those elements, the promotion of cinema and film will be empowered and perfected. Mr. Moronis forgot of course to mention that as a previous member of the National Council of Radio-television (N.C.R.), he was the one that allowed illegalities of the violation of the Law on the 1,5% to occur; the sum of their yearly income that the television channels were suppose to attribute towards the cinematographic productions that they sponsored, in which they were to be credited as co-producers. The Company of Greek Directors, the Pan-Hellenic Federation of Spectacles and Shows, the Association of Greek Actors, and the “Mikro” Foundation, the Association for the promotion of short films, already have pressed charges against the members of N.C.R., a case which is still pending. Consequently the Company of Greek Directors did very well when they finally left the panel, showing us that these discussions were heading nowhere.


Now we are all waiting for the 48th Thessalonica Film Festival, and not only us, but also the cinema-lovers of Thessalonica, the film community of Greece, the Balkan filmmakers and the rest of the world. Between now and then we hope that all these small matters will be resolved, which unfortunately give out an ugly image for an establishment that wants to be considered as one of the biggest in the world. We declare that we will continue supporting this historical establishment, without avoiding criticism; we will participate, if they invite us or not, in order to inform the public the best we can. We would like to thank all those who made our job easier, anonymous or well-known, they know who I am talking about, and we renew our rendezvous for next year in November.


Welcome to a website dedicated to the art of cinema. Everything about cinema. A creation of