Spotlighting films from a vast panorama
The full festival program includes 201 films, 356 screenings, a number of tributes and Faye Dunaway to boot. Michalis Dimopoulos, director of the International Film Festival in Thessaloniki, now in its 10th year, gave Kathimerini a brief overview of the films on show and the ones that particularly stand out. Which of John Boorman’s films do you personally like best and why? Boorman, besides being a rejuvenator of film genres, is a filmmaker who doesn’t easily fit into any one category. He belongs to the tradition of the great wandering British novelists, like [Robert Louis] Stevenson or [Joseph] Conrad. His central artistic concern is nature. His nature is not a place where one can purge oneself of the sins of human civilization but, on the contrary, is a nature which conceals betrayals, horror, repulsive impulses and secret disabilities. From this point of view, the film I would watch again at the festival is Point Blank? In your opinion, which movie by Stavros Tornes would you recommend as being the most representative of his oeuvre? Tornes is a unique filmmaker, who transforms the essence of reality into something unearthly, transcendent and visionary. He has this gift, which is rare in Greek cinema. I would recommend that a new and uninitiated viewer sees Karkalou, which I regard as one of his two masterpieces, the other being Balamos. Which film would you select from Dinos Dimopoulos’s large number of works? We named this small tribute The Gentleman of Popular Cinema, and indeed Dinos Dimopoulos at Finos Films attempted to surpass the theatricality and rudimentary narrative, the conformism and expediency of commercial cinema. He possessed both culture and simplicity. Amaxaki (Small Car) is my favorite movie, because of the actors and the screenplay, as well as the music. Of the 12 Balkan movies screened this year, which do you believe portrays the style of modern Balkan cinema best? This year’s crop of Balkan films confirms the great variety of our neighbors’ output. I would specifically mention two movies: a hilarious comedy from Croatia, The Cashier Wants to Go to the Seaside, by Dalibor Matanic, and Slogans, by Gjergj Xhuvani, a revealing record of the irrationality of Enver Hoxha’s regime in Albania. Out of the 15 movies in the tribute to Argentinean cinema, which are the three that, in your opinion, allow the viewer to become more familiar with the subject matter and style of films unknown in Greece? Modern Argentinean cinema is a very interesting phenomenon – in fact, worthy of imitation. Chiefly owing to the development of a cinematic education, film production has blossomed in the country, which is going through a terrible economic crisis, as is well-known. Throughout the country, not only in Buenos Aires, thousands of students – over 10 thousand – follow, study, experiment with and reflect on the history and language of the cinema at university level with only rudimentary state assistance. I recommend Silvia Prieto by Martin Rejtman, Nine Queens by Fabian Bielinsky and Rey Muerto by Lucrecia Martel. What do you find successful in the New Horizons program? In my opinion, the 3×3 program is an interesting discovery, and the films in the French tribute are outstanding. Which tribute gave you the most trouble in its organization? The tribute to Boorman was no easy task. We struggled over it for two years and Alexis (Grivas, a close collaborator of Dimopoulos) sweated bullets to locate and bring over all the movies, especially the early shorts made for the BBC. As for the Argentinean section, I went to Buenos Aires in person, met the filmmakers and those responsible, and saw for myself a truly thrilling situation which I had never dreamed of. What gives you the most anxiety and what most lightens the burden about this year’s festival? I’m afraid of the weather, which might suddenly get worse. The self-sacrifice of my co-workers and their love for the festival lightens the load. The International Film Festival is now in its 10th year. Could you stand it for another 10?