SYROS – From Agnes Varda’s emblematic Nausicaa and Karl Theodor Dreyer’s masterpiece Vampyr, live-scored by musician Ela Orleans, to contemporary experimental cinema, and from Asia to Olympia, the 7th Syros International Film Festival (SIFF) embeds art forms, images, sounds, cities and cultures into emblematic locations on the Cycladic island of Syros.
SIFF 2019 begins on Tuesday, July 16 at the open-air cinema Pallas with the screening of Nausicaa (1970) by Agnes Varda, in a tribute to the late filmmaker. With the backdrop of Greece’s Junta, this is the only film Varda shot in Greece. It was banned by the dictatorship and never officially completed. That same evening, an original film and music partnership will be presented at Miaoulis Square: a screening of Carl Theodore Dreyer’s silent film Vampyr (1932), live-scored by the hypnotic and multi-level experimental compositions of Ela Orleans who is visiting Greece for the first time on the occasion of the Festival.
Vampyr is a surrealistic meditation on fear and one of the most famous films of the great Danish director who is considered by many to be his country’s most important filmmaker, inspiring later filmmakers such as Ingmar Bergman, Andrei Tarkovsky, Krzysztof Kieślowski, but also Theodoros Angelopoulos. With the use of electronic and organic elements, Ela Orleans creates a mix of pop, world and underground music which has earned the admiration of not only the audiences and the critics, but also musicians such as Thurston Moore and Andrew Weatherall. She has collaborated with major record companies and has appeared in influential festivals around the world. She also composes music for television, cinema, and the opera.
SIFF’s Filmmakers in Focus section presents the work of prominent filmmakers in the context of its overall program and theme. This year, the invited filmmakers in this section include Jem Cohen, Eva Stefani, and Rainer Kohlberger.
Director, photographer and multimedia artist, Jem Cohen has made 65 films, and has collaborated with leading musicians such as Patti Smith, Fugazi and REM, while his works have been included in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, among others. The creator is coming to Greece for the first time to present his films, along with the improvised musical compositions of Giorgos Xylouris and DJ Rupture, presenting the Gravity Hill Sound+Image audiovisual project.
The acclaimed Greek artist who gained great recognition through her participation in documenta 14 in Athens (2018) with the award-winning short film Manuscript, Eva Stefani will present a series of her films dealing with the theme of the Festival and relating with the observational documentary practice that characterizes her work. In the context of SIFF, she will also lead a workshop on documentary filmmaking.
The award-winning artist and filmmaker Rainer Kohlberger will visit SIFF to present a selection of his short films as well as a brand-new performance. His experimental work stands out for the original use of digital algorithms and abstract aesthetic videos.
In keeping with its commitment to the extensive and innovative presentation of the documentary, SIFF collaborates for the first time with one of the most noted Asian Festivals, the Taiwan International Documentary Festival (TIDF). The tribute, More than the Stranger: Short Glimpses of Taiwan, includes 13 short films, from 1930 to the present, of distinguished Taiwanese artists, divided into two parts and edited by the Director of the Festival, Wood Lin, who will honor the Festival with his presence. The screenings will be followed by a Q&A, will the presence by director Pang-chuan Huang, as well as a discussion with Wood Lin and representatives of the Taiwan Film Institute and Taiwan Docs. The tribute aims to present Taiwan’s multi-faceted identity as an island – a nation with strong historical and political elements. It is supported by Taiwan Docs and the Taiwan Documentary International Film Festival, both under the umbrella of the Taiwan Film Institute, and the Taipei Representative Office in Greece.
In addition, the Festival’s collaborations include the Olympia Film Festival for Children and Young People, which is one of the most important European festivals for young film audiences in the world, with international recognition. Within the framework of the collaboration, short films dedicated to the young audience, including Goldfish, Vourvourou, Little, and The Man Looking beyond the Horizon, will be screened, and imaginative workshops will be held for the teenage audience organized by the teenagers themselves. Also, an original workshop for all ages will take place, exploring the creation of the moving image long before the invention of the cinema.
A partnership with the Pugnant Film Series, which loves underground cinema and organizes relevant film screenings throughout Greece, completes the Festival’s collaborations. At SIFF, the team of Pugnant will select and feature their favorite directors’ short films in a series of pop-up screenings at SIFF’s outdoor locations. In addition, an installation at Pallas winter cinema will allow one viewer at a time to peek through a cinematic “keyhole.” Among others, creators such as Phuttiphong Aroonpheng, Elizabeth Vazquez, Jorge Núñez, Susu Laroche, and Dagie Brundert will be screened.
And of course, as the Festival is inseparably linked to the island of Syros, SIFF could not but support the protection of the sea. Thus, for the first time, the Syros International Film Festival becomes an Ambassador of the Seachange Greek Islands program, supporting a holistic intervention to protect the marine environment. SIFF invites the public to become part of the change by saying “no” to single-use plastics, protecting thus the natural wealth of the island. The program is an initiative of the Athanasios K. Laskaridis Charitable Foundation and aims to raise public awareness through a series of actions. More information about the program is available online.
The festival takes place with an exclusive donation of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), which has been supporting the SIFF systematically since 2014.
The Syros International Film Festival was founded in 2013 and is a non-profit initiative. Its aim is to present the art of cinema to the public through an expanded concept that breaks the narrow boundaries of a typical festival and highlights the natural beauty and cultural heritage of Syros.
More information is available online: www.syrosfilmfestival.org.
See moments from # SIFF2018: http://syrosfilmfestival.org/experience-2018-festival/.
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