ATHENS – The 25th Athens International Film Festival held a Press Conference on Wednesday, September 11, in the function room of the Friends of Music Society of the Athens Concert Hall.
Following a brief welcome speech by Alexandros Harkiolakis, the Director of the Friends of Music Society, the Festival’s Artistic Director, Loukas Katsikas, welcomed those attending and began his speech by extending his profound gratitude to the The Ministry of Culture and Sports, the General Directorate of Contemporary Culture as well as the Directorate of Performing Arts and Cinema for supporting this year’s festival event and hoped that the Ministry would continue to uphold the country’s cultural institutions.
Before presenting the programme of the 25th anniversary edition of the Athens International Film Festival, Mr Katsikas welcomed and thanked Mr Konstantinos Mpitzanis, President of the City of Athens Cultural, Sport and Youth Organisation, who is a long-standing collaborator of the Athens Open Air Film Festival.
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The Artistic Director proceeded with a detailed presentation of the programme for this year’s 25th anniversary edition of the Festival, a cultural institution celebrating 25 years of independent film, which includes: 115 feature films, 63 short films, and 3 competition sections, principal jury members such as Whit Stillman who will preside over the jury of the International Competition section and Maggi Hurt (BFI) who will preside over the International Documentary Competition section. He also mentioned distinguished guests among who are Costa-Gavras, Jerzy Skolimowski, Ariane Labed, Fatih Akin, the star of the film “The Golden Glove” Jonas Dassler, the stars of Ken Loach’s new film “Sorry We Missed You” Debbie Honeywood and Kris Hitchen as well as notable speakers such as Dimitra Galani, Mario Frangoulis, Gabriel Sakellaridis, George Halston, Orsalia Parthenis, Yannis Tseklenis and Katerina Koskina.
Furthermore, the 25th organisation of the Festival will present three exquisite tributes: “Spring Awakening: Wild Flowers of the Czech New Wave” in collaboration with the Czech Centre in Athens, a retrospective titled “Urban Myths: The Sublime Cinema of Edward Yang” with the support of the Taipei Representative Office in Athens and in attendance of the director’s composer and life partner, Kaili Peng and the well-established thematic tribute “Blackboard Screen: Cinema and Education” with free admission which is organised within the context of the ”Human Resources Development, Education and Lifelong Learning” Sectoral Programme.
New Greek Cinema composed of short films of a wide range, with cutting edge films such as Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Nimic” starring Matt Dillon and Daphne Patakia which will be screened right before “Cremator” by Juraj Herz (tribute to Czech New Wave), a film which the Greek director lists as one of his main influences for Academy Award-winning “The Favourite”.
Festival viewers will also have an opportunity to watch the Greek nationwide premiere of Ariane Labed’s directorial debut “OLLA” and “Electric Swan” by Konstantina Kotzamani. Both directors will attend as part of the Newcomer Greek Actor & Director and Greek Short Stories competition awards ceremony. Another nationwide premiere to be screened will be “Patision Avenue” by Thanasis Neofotistos.
The Special Screenings section includes the pre-festival screening of the long-awaited “The Goldfinch” starring Nicole Kidman, based on the similarly-titled novel by Donna Tartt (kindly endorsed by Tanweer), “Apocalypse Now: Final Cut” by Francis Ford Coppola, “Moonlighting” by Jerzy Skolimowski with the unrivaled Jeremy Irons and in attendance of the director himself, and the legendary “Repo Man” by Alex Cox.
Once more, the Festival will screen award-winning films from around the world as part of the “Festival Darlings” section, such as this year’s Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, “Synonymes”, the wonderful “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” by Celine Sciamma, the Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize winner, “Bacurau”, the surprising animation “Bunuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles”, a favourite for the upcoming Academy Awards and blockbuster phenomenon “The Farewell” and “Light of My Life”, Academy Award-winner Casey Affleck’s directorial debut which has received rave reviews.
As a side observation, the Festival’s Artistic Director proudly stated that this year’s programme celebrates women as approximately half the films to be screened in the anniversary edition of the Festival, tell exciting stories with women in the leading roles and/or are directed by women. The audience is invited to discover women’s grand presence through the stories told and to finally show them the consideration and love they rightfully deserve.
Mr Loukas Katsikas then went on to announce that the 25th Athens International Film Festival will inaugurate the “Giorgos Tziotzios” Honorary Award, which “bears the name of the person who made this Festival come true” and which will be presented to distinguished guests of the Festival as a lifetime achievement award in film and culture. This year’s recipients of the award will be the world-renowned and award-winning directors Costa-Gavras and Jerzy Skolimowski.
Finally, in the spirit of partnership and solidarity, values for which the Athens International Film Festival ardently stands, the successful collaboration from previous years with the Athens Ethnographic Film Festival (ETHNOFEST) and the Athens International Children’s Film Festival (ATHICFF) will continue this year with the premiere of the film “Dead Birds” in collaboration with the former and the screening of the film “We Are Little Zombies” in collaboration with the latter. There will also be side events and joint efforts of a social nature with free admission screenings of sensitive issues (Doctors Without Borders, Mission ANTHROPOS, METAdrasi, SHEDIA, Amnesty International).