THESSALONIKI — The 61st Thessaloniki International Film Festival (TIFF) kicked off online on Thursday at the Olympion cinema to mark the unique circumstances of the current pandemic, as the room was empty due to coronavirus restrictions.
The opening screening included the festival organizers' show reel and a film, Philipp Yuryev's 'The Whale Hunter'.
In replacing the traditional press conference with a closed-door screening, the organizers said they wanted to bring life the theatre without viewers to show their love and devotion for the cinema industry, which has been dealt a blow by the pandemic's restrictive measures.
Expressing her concern for the new reality, the TIFF’s General Director Elise Jalladeau pointed out that "ever since February 2020, our dystopian everyday life seems to be the work of a sci-fi screenwriter."
The festival's organizers were keen to see the festival take place "no matter what" – this year's festival motto, said Jalladeau – because they felt they owed it to the audience, the filmmakers, the cinema industry, and to their team. "Cinema by any means, cinema at any given place," she underlined, raising the significance of viewing the films at one's own home.
"As we wheel out the festival’s online version, we don't cease to seek new theoretical tools to interpret not just cinema and the arts, but also the very reality that surrounds us," said TIFF’s Artistic Director, Orestis Andreadakis. "Our motto 'Cinema, no matter what' is a way for us to lay down some rules of our own, over the ones imposed by the new coronavirus," he said.
It should therefore come as no surprise that this year's thematic tribute is called 'Prophecies from another world: Sci-fi and Cli-fi (1950-1990)', which deals with dystopian realities and climate change. "It will help us understand and interpret the current situation," Jalladeau noted.
Running until November 15, the festival hosts 177 films from across the world, with 15 avant-premieres. It includes 18 Greek full-feature films as well as 21 Greek shorts.
Viewers can buy tickets for 3 euros per film, while screening packages are also available. Film buffs can purchase tickets prior to the screening's date to receive the viewing link via email, but the film itself is only available from 10:00 a.m. on the first day of its scheduled screening and for 24 hours after that time, for a limited number of viewings.
The Festival will wrap up on Sunday, November 15, with the screening of the film 'Never Gonna Snow Again' by Malgorzata Szumowska and Michal Englert.
Tickets and more information are available at www.filmfestival.gr.