For years, Thessaloniki has been an important platform for directors making their debut or second feature films. This is due to the passionate, experienced and inventive leadership of Dimitri Eipides, who is one of the world's leading festival programmers: he has been programming for festivals and film clubs since 1971.
This is a festival for non-commercial cinema from around the world, although there is a focus on films from Turkey, eastern and central Europe, and Israel and the other Levantine countries. The international competition features first and second fiction films. The festival has pushed many of today's leading filmmakers, such as Alexander Payne, into the spotlight. Some films have their world premieres in Thessaloniki, while others are picked up from non-competition events like the Forum Berlinale. The standard of competition is high — only the Greek films were disappointing. The best Greek film in Thessaloniki (City of Children) was not even part of the international competition.
The atmosphere of the festival is concentrated on the films themselves — there are no stars, no special 'events', no lavish parties or paparazzi. The festival focuses on the relationship between the film, the author and the viewer. This atmosphere is supported by a large, educated local audience (the biggest university in Greece is located here.)
Thessaloniki is a festival which attracts the right number of viewers: it is neither oversized nor anonymous. This means that news of an interesting film travels very quickly. The out-of-competition section attempts to show all the important art films of the moment: this year, Sokurov's Faust. The Agora market, which is part of the festival, matches upcoming European producers with veterans like Karl Baumgartner of Pandora Films. Agora also awards its own prizes to projects in development. (Tereza Brdecková)
Thessaloniki International Film Festival: www.filmfestival.gr