The 54th edition of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival (Διεθνές Φεστιβάλ Κινηματογράφου Θεσσαλονίκης, Diethnes Festival Kinimatografou Thessalonikis) came to an end last Saturday with the closing ceremony taking place at a packed Olympion Theater. The festival ran from 1-10 November 2013.
The Thessaloniki International Film Festival has become one of the Balkans’ primary showcases for the work of new and emerging filmmakers. It features the International Competition program, a panorama of Greek films, the New Horizons program, the Balkan Survey as well as various retrospectives and tributes to important personalities of the film industry.
The International competition program was made up of the following films: Bad Hair by Mariana Rondón, Bluebird by Lance Edmands, Coming Forth by Day by Hala Lofty, Good Night by Sean H.A. Gallagher, Miracle by Juraj Lehotský, Carlos Lechuga’s Molasses, Marianne Pistone and Gilles Deroo’s Sheep, Sunshine Boys by Tae-gon Kim, Suzanne by Katell Quillevere, The Devil’s Liquor by Ignacio Rodríguez, Elina Psykou’s The Eternal Return of Antonis Paraskevas, The Golden Cage by Diego Quemada-Diez, Mani Maserrat’s Us and Wild Duck by Yannis Sakaridis.
The International Jury, headed by Alexander Payne, was made up of Variety’s chief film critic Scott Foundas, the producer Ada Solomon, the musician and composer K. Bita and the artistic director of the Quinzaine des Réalizateurs of the Cannes Film Festival, Édouard Waintrop.
The Award for Best Feature Film, known also as the Golden Alexander – Theo Angelopoulos Award was given to The Golden Cage by Diego Quemada-Diez. It was presented by Alexander Payne, the President of the Jury, who said “… We watched 14 films from 11 countries and we were very satisfied with the overall quality. Seventeen years ago I presented at this festival my first feature film and it gives me great pleasure to see how new directors have evolved in the meantime. Our role is not limited to deciding the winners, but also extends to encouraging filmmakers. Mr Eipides does this with his selections and we are here to provide even more support”.
The Special Jury Award – Silver Alexander went to Katell Quillevere Suzanne; the Special Jury Award for Originality and Innovation – Bronze Alexander was given to Mariana Rondón’s Bad Hair; François Damiens received the Artistic Achievement Award for Outstanding Achievement as a Supporting Actor for his performance in Katell Quillévéré’s Suzanne while the Best Actress Award was bestowed to Sara Forestier for her performance in Suzanne by Katell Quillévéré and the Best Actor Award went ex aequo to Christos Stergioglou for his performance in The Eternal Return of Antonis Paraskevas by Elina Psykou and Jaime Vadell for his performance in The Devil’s Liquor by Ignacio Rodríguez; Tae-gon Kim received the Best Screenplay Award for Sunshine Boys while the Best Director Award went to Diego Quemada-Diez for The Golden Cage. A Special Mention for Cinematography was also given by the Thessaloniki International Film Festival’s jury to Mahmud Lofty for Coming Forth by Day by Hala Lofty. The International Federation of Film Critics – FIPRESCI Jury (consisting of Magda Mihailescu -president-, Dubravka Lakić, Bojidar Manov, Boyd Van Hoeij and Dennis West gave out two FIPRESCI awards: Bad Hair by Mariana Rondón for a film in the International Competition and The Eternal Return of Antonis Paraskevas by Elina Psykou for a film in the Greek Films 2013 section. And last but not least, the Hellenic Parliament gave its 9th Human Values Award to Diego Quemada–Diez for The Golden Cage.
According to the festival director, Dimitri Eipides, the 54th edition of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival “sent a resounding message: the need for creativity and communication triumphs even in times of hardship”. Indeed, he was very pleased that the festival achieved its aim, which was that of a fruitful edition focused on independent films. The festival showcased a total of 150 films from 54 countries with moviegoers and film buffs embracing warmly the event and flooding the theaters. He also mentioned the importance of the Agora section that actively supports film production and attracts established professionals from around the globe. In fact, Agora, with its record number of films, the Crossroads Co-Production Forum and the Works in Progress section also contributes to the promotion of the independent scene. This year, the Agora digital video archive included 300 films with the participation of 100 Greek and 232 international professionals.
Moreover, this year, the festival hosted two special tributes-homages to French filmmakers Claire Simon and Alain Guiraudie and was honored by the presence of Jim Jarmusch and the president of the International Jury, Alexander Payne, whose latest film, Nebraska, screened after the Awards ceremony.