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that of Greece Thessaloniki International Film Festival returns this evening for its 64th edition with a screening of The Pot-au-Feu (The Taste of Things)the latest film from the Franco-Vietnamese director Trần Anh Hùng.
The picture, which won the best director award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, will be screened in front of audiences at Thessaloniki’s Olympia Theater after an opening ceremony.
From November 2 to 12, Thessaloniki will screen 11 first and second feature films, including three Greek films, as part of its main international feature film competition. Selected titles include Animal by Sophia Exarchou, Christos Nikou’s NailsAnd In camera by Naqqash Khalid. A total of 270 feature-length and short films will be screened in Thessaloniki. The international competition is accompanied by two side streams, Meet the Neighbors and Fiction Forward, for regional and experimental works, both also carrying 11 competition titles. The festival will close with Fallen Leaves by Aki Kaurismäki.
In terms of talent, Monica Bellucci is expected to be in attendance to receive the festival’s honorary Golden Alexander for Lifetime Achievement, while Canadian filmmaker Jeremy Podeswa, best known for his work on TV shows such as Station Eleven, Game of ThronesAnd The Handmaid’s Talewill host a masterclass in the AGORA industry section.
Below, Orestis Andreadakis, artistic director of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, details this year’s edition, the festival’s growing profile, and what’s behind the contemporary resurgence of Greek cinema.
DEADLINE: Orestis, it seems that Thessalonica is really gaining importance. What do you think about this and what is your end goal?
ORESTIS ANDREADAKIS: Yes, it’s growing. Our secret is that we try to create an atmosphere that allows all professionals, filmmakers, directors, producers and sales agents, to do their work easily while having fun and watching good films. When you go to major festivals, it is extremely difficult to make an appointment. It’s a full-time job. When people come here, things are much easier. Thessaloniki is also a beautiful city and the capital of good food.
DEADLINE: How long is your term of office?
ANDREA DAKIS: I still have a year and a half. Until the end of 2025.
DEADLINE: There is enormous strength in the competition strands this year, particularly from the local region. Can you tell me a little about setting up the competitions?
ANDREA DAKIS: We have three main competitions. The Meet the Neighbors and Film Forward international competition which brings together all films that live between fiction and documentary. This year we expanded Meet The Neighbors. Thessaloniki lies in the middle of a huge neighborhood stretching from the Danube to Egypt and from Italy to the Black Sea, which is the cradle of all the great civilizations of humanity. All the good and, as we know, the bad comes from here. We want to highlight this history while making sure people know that this neighborhood can also be a meeting point for cinema, art, peace and understanding.
DEADLINE: How would you describe this year’s international competition?
ANDREA DAKIS: This year, the festival is under the theme of the Ghost. Dennis Lim (director of programming at the Film Society of Lincoln Center) organized a retrospective. But oddly enough, you will see films with ghosts in all sections of the festival. There are real ghosts, allegorical ghosts, and ghosts of love and politics. It’s a very nice game to discover the ghosts of Thessaloniki Film Festival.
DEADLINE: How did Dennis get involved with the festival?
ANDREA DAKIS: We love Denis. He’s a very good friend. And he loves Greece. He comes every summer. He has a house here. We started talking about putting this in place at the beginning of the year. We gathered in Cannes and other festivals to present this very beautiful retrospective, which is combined with an art exhibition featuring four legendary Greek visual artists.
DEADLINE: Once again, Greek films performed very well on the festival circuit this year. What did you think of this year’s selection of films?
ANDREA DAKIS: Fifteen years ago, very few Greek films were screened at major festivals. There was only Thodōros Angelopoulos and one or two others. However, in recent years, in every major festival there is at least one Greek film, and very often it wins an award. The latest example occurred in Locarno, where Greek cinema Animal won the Best Actress award. Very few countries as large and as populous as Greece achieve this. This gives us hope that the new generation of Greek filmmakers is doing well.
DEADLINE: But why has it fueled this shift in recent years?
ANDREA DAKIS: That’s the million dollar question. This new generation has studied abroad. And they scour all the festivals to find co-productions. Because of this very difficult decade of financial crisis, they had to open their eyes and ears and see what was happening. When we experience a very difficult situation, we are obliged to take a stand. Talking about all these things and finding a new way to express your anger and hopefully produce something that matters. Additionally, they are very talented people. They help each other and I hope the Thessaloniki Film Festival helped them too.
DEADLINE: Who is visiting Thessaloniki this year?
ANDREA DAKIS: Monica Bellucci will receive the honorary Golden Alexander for her entire career. She is the lead actress in a hybrid fiction documentary on Maria Callas screened at the festival. The director, Jeremy Podeswa, will also be present to participate in the Agora series section.