The 64th edition of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, which will take place between November 2 and 12, will screen 270 films, feature and short films, of which 79 will be accessible online, through the platform online.filmfestival.gr. This is the splendid program of a festival that, as we mentioned in EL HYPE, will also offer exhibitions, publications, tributes and master classes that will turn the festival, once again this year, into a complete experience for audiences and professionals.
The Thessaloniki Festival maintains its commitment to consistency and commitment to discovering new talents and voices that stimulate the viewer’s gaze. The competition program of the 64th edition of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival (November 2-12, 2023), will be screened within the competition sections, International Competition, Meet the Neighbors+, >>Film Forward and Immersive, which encourage us to embark on exciting and deeply human cinematic journeys.
In this section we will see 11 first or second films by directors from all over the world, including three Greeks. The jury composed of Dieter Kosslick (film critic, director of the Berlinale until 2019), producer Diana Elbaum and director and screenwriter Elina Psykou, will award the following prizes: the Golden Alexander “Theo Angelopoulos” for Best Film, the Silver Alexander for Best Direction sponsored by COSMOTE TV, Best Actor and Actress, Best Screenplay or Best Artistic Achievement. In addition, the jury may award two special mentions.
Animal (Sophia Exarchou, 2023 ) Greece, Austria, Romania, Cyprus, Bulgaria, 116΄
Under the hot Greek sun, the entertainers of an all-inclusive island resort prepare for the busy tourist season. Kalia is the leader of the group. As the summer intensifies and the pressure of work increases, their nights become violent and Kalia’s struggle is revealed in the darkness. But when the spotlights come back on, the show must go on.
Medium (Christina Ioakeimidi, 2023) Greece, Bulgaria, 100΄
Sixteen-year-old Eleftheria, a stranger in a strange world, meets mysterious neighbor Angelos, who invites her into his fascinating adult world. Riding through the streets of the scorching August city on her bicycle, she will embark on a journey to discover herself through the ferocity of first love.
The Last Taxi Driver (Stergios Paschos, 2023) Greece, 114΄
Thomas works nights as a cab driver and lives with his wife and teenage son, Tassos. When one of his customers commits suicide, Thomas is forced to face everything he has hidden for too long and realize the flaws in his life. When he meets Eleni, his client’s long-lost daughter, he sees in her a way out of his tired life.
Fingernails (Christos Nikou, 2023) USA, 113΄
Set in a strange future or perhaps a slightly alternate present e, Anna and her partner Ryan have achieved any couple’s dream: they possess a document certifying their true love. However, their comfortable if somewhat mundane life causes Anna to question the success of their proof of love, administered by placing her extracted fingernails into a state-of-the-art machine. Anna soon begins working for the Institute of Love under the tutelage of Duncan (Luke Wilson), who, in addition to determining the status of couples through the mysterious test, trains them to deepen their bond.
Grace (Ilya Povolotsky, 2023) Russia, 119΄
Far from the world: this is how the teenage protagonist lives, traveling with her father to the other side of Russia, fleeing the country they once called home, in search of freedom. They live in their truck, which serves not only as a living capsule full of memories and emotions, but also as a traveling cinema offering unique images to the public in exchange for a small income. Their journey is both literal and metaphorical, almost metaphysical. It is a journey to a ghost world, to a place they no longer recognize. A trajectory of flight from the inhospitable reality, filmed in a timeless and poetic way reminiscent of Tarkovsky‘s cinema. Ilya Povolotsky‘s fiction debut (many will remember his documentary Froth, screened at the Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival) is a totally independent film that does not succumb to any norm and proves that a radically different cinema is possible, even in today’s Russia.
Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person (Ariane Louis-Seize, 2023) Canada, 90΄
Sasha faces a serious problem. She is a teenage vampire who dares not kill. When her family, tired of sharing her blood (or rather, the blood of others), gives her an ultimatum, Sasha’s fate hangs in the balance. Luckily, she meets Paul, a lonely young man with suicidal tendencies who is also struggling to make the big move. If Wes Anderson and Tim Burton were to create a cinematic illegitimate child, it would look a lot like Ariane Louis-Seize’s delightful film. As its title suggests, it dares contrasts and rejects the mundane.
In Camera (Naqqash Khalid, 2023) United Kingdom, 96΄
The boundaries between the “real” and the imaginary are blurred, intertwined and redefined in this British debut that traces the trajectory of a young actor determined to take center stage in his own life. Tired of uncomfortable auditions, repeated rejections and playing corpses in TV series, Aiden decides it’s time to take on a new role, away from the cameras, wanting to build the narrative of his life himself. A sardonic and often humorous existential quasi-thriller about the roles we are called to play and the fluid, disorienting nature of the here and now.
Sweet Dreams (Ena Sendijarević, 2023) Netherlands-Indonesia-Sweden, 98΄
The demise of European colonialism has never been so vibrantly and aesthetically lushly captured as in this delightfully cynical film. When the owner of a sugarcane plantation on an Indonesian island drops dead after a late-night visit to his housekeeper, mistress and mother of his illegitimate child, his family faces unprecedented trials, including a workers’ revolt and a society and place that had never truly welcomed his presence. Sweet Dreams unravels the toxic nature of an unethical exploitative system with intelligence and style in this wry and penetrating social thriller, making it a rare but exceptional cinematic gem.
The Feeling that the Time for Doing Something has Passed (Joanna Arnow, 2023) USA, 87΄
Anne, the central character, is a skilled juggler trying to balance an uninteresting job, unsatisfying relationships and a captivating sense of social and familial awkwardness. This sharp and brilliantly witty comedy, infused with a biting edge and elements of BDSM, serves as a roadmap for the tumultuous journey of adulthood. It’s also a guide for millennials and anyone who has ever felt like they didn’t fit in. Joanna Arnow fearlessly takes on multiple roles as the film’s writer, director and star.
The Lost Boys (Zeno Graton, 2023) Belgium-France, 85′.
Is it possible to discover freedom within the walls of a prison? Seventeen-year-old Joe prepares to leave the detention center where he has spent the last few years, but the arrival of William, a new inmate, will reshape his concept of what freedom really means. Zeno Graton’s electrifying debut captures a love of rare strength and sensitivity, while examining prevailing notions of masculinity, sexuality and power structures through a different lens. The Lost Boys is born at the intersection of Jean Genet‘s Un chant d’amour and the recent The Great Freedom.
Touched (Claudia Rorarius, 2023) Germany, 135΄
Marie, a nurse working in a rehabilitation center, and Alex, a young paraplegic receiving treatment there, make the decision to defy all taboos and prejudices in their fight for their right to be desired. However, their attraction will face challenges as they both struggle to feel comfortable in a relationship that defies social norms, and the confusion between love and humiliation will push them both to the edge. Stavros Zafeiris and Isold Halldórudóttir fearlessly and movingly play the protagonists in a provocative and deeply tender film.
Meet the Neighbors+
In the 64th edition of the Thessaloniki festival this section has been enhanced with new awards and bigger cash prizes. Meet the Neighbor+ consists of debut or second films by directors who aim to offer us a deeper understanding of life, the human condition and the state of affairs in the wider geographical region or take a look at the world through a unique and innovative artistic prism. The section includes 11 films, including two Greek films.
In addition, the Golden Alexander now adds the name of Michel Dimopoulos to its award, honoring the memory of the man who expanded the festival in a decisive way, and its prize money has been equalized with that of the first prize of the International Competition. Moreover, the awards for Best Actor and Actress, Best Screenplay or Artistic Achievement have been added. The jury is composed of actor Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Xenia Kaldara, general director of the Michalis Kakoyannis Foundation, and film critic Cédric Succivalli, who will evaluate the following films.
This section welcomes 11 films, including two Greek films, by directors who defy convention. The jury, which is composed of Köken Ergun, film director and video artist, Ana Grgić , director and writer, and director Nikos Pastras, will award the Golden Alexander for Best Film, the Silver Alexander for Best Director and may also award up to two mentions.
The selected films are as follows: Embryo Larva Butterfly by Kyros Papavassiliou (Cyprus, Greece), Little Things That Went Wrong by Haris Vafiadis (Greece), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt by Raven Jackson (USA), Camping du Lac by Eléonore Saintagnan (Belgium, France), Foremost by Night by Victor Iriarte (Spain, Portugal, France), Hello Dankness, by Soda Jerk (Australia), Melk, by Stefanie Kolk (Netherlands), Remembering Every Night, by Yui Kiyohara (Japan), Samsara by Lois Patiño (Spain), The Human Surge 3, by Eduardo Williams (Argentina, Portugal, Brazil, Netherlands, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Peru), Vourdalak, by Adrien Beau (France).
The innovative Immersive competition section welcomes films that make use of the latest technologies, demonstrating that this new medium opens new paths to cinematic art and experience. The Immersive section of the 64th Thessaloniki International Film Festival includes 8 new films, from imaginary worlds to the power of music or the inspiration provoked by diversity, they offer an exciting viewing experience, transcending film genres and immersing the audience in the universe of each film. The jury is composed of art historian Panos Giannikopoulos, Pedro Harres, winner of the Golden Alexander in 2022 with From the Main Square, and Thelyia Petraki, director, screenwriter and anthropologist.
The selected films are the following: Finally Me by Marcio Sal (Brazil), Human Violins by Ioanna Mischie (Romania, France), My name is 090 by Siyeon Kim (South Korea), Shadowtime by Sister Sylvester and Deniz Tortum (Netherlands, USA, Turkey), Shinigama by Yoshiya Okoyama (Japan), The Descent by Tatiana Collet Apraxine (UK, France), The Imaginary Friend by Steye Hallema (Netherlands, Belgium), They Dream In My Bones by Faye Formisano (France).