IFA’s tribute to documentaries

Fifteen consecutive years of success have led the French Institute of Athens to organize yet another documentary festival this year, composed of classic and new documentary films, three tributes and a special surprise. Organized with the cooperation of the General Secretariat of Adult Education, the Italian Education Institute and the Greek Film Center, the Cinema & Reality festival runs from today to February 16 and kicks off with a juggling and musical spectacle – as introduction to a tribute to documentaries on life in the circus – by circus artist Jerome Thomas, accordion player Jean Francois Baez and lighting artist Bernard Revel. Thomas, who has been a professional juggler for 23 years, elevated the art of juggling in the 1980s from a simple, minimalist act to a broad audiovisual spectacle based on musical rhythms and professionally choreographed movements. In 1993, he founded the ARMO workshop and has attended festivals worldwide both alone and with his troupe. This year’s film festival is centered on the theme of circus documentaries and will screen both short and full-length films that focus on the behind-the-scenes action that gives birth to one of the oldest forms of public entertainment for the young and old. On a more current note, and after previous country tributes to Latin America and Asia, the festival will be screening documentaries from North Africa and the Middle East. Filmmakers from Egypt, Israel, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Yemen will present their take on the social and political issues in their respective societies with documentaries such as «Christmas in Lebanon,» «The World is My Home,» «Yemen» and a special 1998 film by Eglal Errera on «Constantine Cavafy.» Contemporary Greek and French documentary-makers get a slot in the festival, as films by Nikos Anagnostopoulos, Eva Stefani, Stella Lambrou, Yasmina Benguigui, Jerome de Missolz and Dominique Cabrera tackle issues such as the fashion industry, city living, immigration, history and social alienation, while veteran Greek documentary-maker Roussos Koundouros will be the subject of a one-hour focus on Thursday. Another highlight is a tribute to Italian documentaries after World War II, showcasing the sociopolitical commentaries on a changing world by the great filmmakers Dino Risi, Michelangelo Antonioni, Valerio Zurlini, Luigi Comencini, Francesco Maselli, Florestano Vancini, Luciano Emmer and Vittorio de Seta. Cinema & Reality, at the French Institute, 31 Sina, Kolonaki, tel 210.339.8600.