International jury keeps eye on new talent

?Every film is like a new book,? Sitora Alieva, program director of the Kinotavr Film Festival in Russia, told the Thessaloniki International Film Festival on Wednesday in a press conference with the event’s international panel of judges.

The five members of the TIFF jury — Laurence Kardish, senior curator of the Department of Film and Media, Museum of Modern Art, New York, and jury president, Frederic Boyer, director of the Les Arcs European Film Festival in France, Greek film director Constantine Giannaris, US-based film producer Hisami Kuroiwa and Alieva — will be choosing from between 15 films at the end of the event on November 13 to determine who will walk away with the Golden (20,000 euros) and Silver (10,000 euros) Alexanders, as well as the Special Jury Award for Originality and Innovation (5,000 euros).

?When I start feeling like a professional viewer, I will quit,? said Boyer on the task of the jury. ?Under no circumstances do I want to become a professional cinephile. All this talk about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ films is irrelevant. We often see films that were once considered masterpieces and have lost their edge, and vice versa,? said Boyer, who added that he likes to keep an open mind and listen to the Q I want it to take me somewhere higher as a person.?

Giannaris, the jury’s only director, is looking for the personal idiom that makes a filmmaker stand out. ?It is a small miracle when he or she finds it,? he said.

The fact that the films in competition are all either the directors’ first or second attempts at filmmaking is not a factor that influences the jury, whose focus is on looking for new talent.

?I approach every film through the heart,? said Kuroiwa, adding that a director’s first film can often be better than anything they produce later on in their careers.

Concurring with this idea, Kardish said: ?First films often prove to be the best. Take Orson Welles’ ‘Citizen Kane,’ for example. I don’t believe that first films need to be in any way inferior to later work.?

?It is often said that a director’s first film does not need to be perfect,? added Boyer. ?For us, it is enough to spot talented directors and to award them. After all, the ultimate goal is to see young artists evolve and to make progress in the future.?

It all comes down to the final debate, according to Alieva.

?I want us all to discuss our choices in the final deliberation, during which there is a certain amount of objectivity, irrespective of each jury member’s personality. We often hear that things can get heated during these discussions… but the priority is to support young artists,? she said.