CULTURE

Curtain rises on Athens Film Fest with exciting roster of screenings

Film lovers will not be disappointed by the films on the screening list of the 19th Athens International Film Festival, which opens on Wednesday and runs to September 29.

The event opens with Noah Baumbach’s “Frances Ha” (2012) – a black-and-white comedy-drama about the adventures of a 27-year-old woman in New York – and concludes with Abdellatif Kechiche’s 2013 “La vie d’Adele,” winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year. One of the stars of the film, Adele Exarchopoulos, a French actress with Greek roots, will be in attendance on the closing night.

Presenting the program at a recent press conference, the event’s artistic director Orestis Andreadakis noted that the festival will showcase 206 shorts and features, out of which 93 are Greek. Among the local productions scheduled for screening are Giorgos Tseberopoulos’s 2013 drama “O Ehthros Mou” (The Enemy Within), Nikos Panayotopoulos’s 2013 comedy “The Limousine,” as well as Michalis Konstantatos’s “Luton” and Penny Panayotopoulou’s “September” (both 2013 dramas).

A selection of 13 features are vying for the Golden Athena award for best film in the festival’s International Competition section. The winner will be selected by a five-member jury made up of film and theater students. Another award awaits the winner of the event’s Music & Films section, which includes seven movies.

Festival organizers are also presenting tributes to several silver-screen professionals. One of these will include four feature films by Israel’s Ari Folman. The director, known for his 2008 animated documentary “Waltz with Bashir,” is expected to visit Athens as a festival guest. The event’s roster further features a selection of eight movies shot by Dutch director Alex van Warmerdam, including the 2013 thriller “Borgman,” which took part in the official competition section for this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

The Athens International Film Festival will showcase six works by filmmaker Georges Franju, who along with Henri Langlois is credited with co-founding the Cinematheque Francaise, France’s most importance film archive, in 1937.

Another festival highlight is a tribute to late screenwriter, director and film critic Christos Vakalopoulos. Commemorating 20 years since his death at the age of 37, the one-night homage includes a screening of Vakalopoulos’s crime drama “Olga Robards.” Also part of the event is a collection of films selected by veteran local film critic Yiannis Bakogiannopoulos.

Acclaimed British actor Jeremy Irons is expected to visit Athens and will present Bille August’s 2013 mystery drama “Night Train to Lisbon.” In the film, Irons takes on the role of an aging Swiss professor who abandons academic life in search of a doctor and poet who fought against the regime of Portuguese dictator Antonio de Oliveira Salazar.

The festival’s films will be screened at the Danaos, Opera, Ideal and the Greek Film Archive cinemas.

For more information on the festival, visit www.aiff.gr.