THESSALONIKI – Greece’s next generation of filmmakers will be showcased at the 63d Thessaloniki International Film Festival which opened in the country’s second-largest city on Nov. 3 and will run for 10 days.
They are different.
In a feature, the industry’s mainstay site Variety said that audiences will be looking at Magnetic Fields, the feature debut of graphic artist-turned-director Yorgos Goussis that will represent Greece at the Academy Awards in Hollywood.
The festival has originated some of Greece’s best talents such as the late director Theo Angelopoulos, who ironically was killed in 2012 while filming a movie in the port of Piraeus after being hit by a motorcycle driven by an off-duty police officer while trying to cross a busy street. He was 76.
He came to fame in 1970 at Thessaloniki and now the festival will continue to show experimental type films and those ranging past the avant-garde into an area of weirdness even.
They have included the works of Academy Award nominee Yorgos Lanthimos, such as Dogtooth and The Lobster, and now another generation of directors who came up during a decade of harsh austerity and an economic crisis are being highlighted.
This year’s exhibit will include 26 feature-length and 19 short films from the host country, with 14 of those features celebrating their world premieres, a crop of directors looking to continue on a roll that’s brought international attention to the local film scene.
That includes Christos Nikou, who hit the Telluride-Venice-Toronto trifecta with his Cate Blanchett-executive produced feature Apples; Araceli Lemos, whose 2021 debut Holy Emy was awarded in Locarno; Evi Kalogiropoulou, whose short film On Xerxes’ Throne won a prize at Cannes’ Critics Week; and Vasilis Kekatos, whose short The Distance Between Us and the Sky won the Palme d’Or.
Variety pointed out that it’s their world wide attention that has set them apart from their esteemed predecessors who didn’t have the same setting, their successors now benefiting from a new world of ideas.
The festival’s Director Orestis Andreadakis said that “twenty years ago, it was completely different,” he says. “Now, this young generation is everywhere: festivals, markets, (winning) prizes.”
Neda Film’s Amanda Livanou, who produced Christos Massalas’ feature debut Broadway, which premiered at Rotterdam told the site of the new bunch that, “they’re much more international to begin with. They’ve grown up with this.”
After a reputation for decades of being unfriendly to filmmakers, Greece has turned around in seeking them and offers a 40 percent cash rebate for films shot in the country instead of shooing them away. The new policies have proved a boon for local directors.
Kekatos said he makes movies “because I want to tell stories. Stories about people. And I am making them in Greece because I happen to be here right now. I could be making them in any part of the world.”
He is developing his first feature, Our Wildest Days, which follows a young woman who leaves her dysfunctional family to follow a group of romantic outsiders through a shattered Greece.
“It’s a story in some ways emblematic of his generation of filmmakers, who have weathered economic downturns and austerity measures in pursuit of their quixotic, cinematic dreams,” said Variety.
“What motivates me is people who are somewhere and want to go somewhere else. People who want to escape. Runaways of whatever age, who leave without knowing where to go,” says Kekatos. “And even if they don’t get anywhere, they see glimpses of unknown beauty along the way.”