CULTURE

Young director rakes in prizes at film festival

This year’s Short Film Festival of Drama, which ended just days ago, was marked by three highlights: first, a top prize for a film widely acknowledged as a worthy winner; second, a committee that refused to offer a prize for the festival’s documentary section; and third, an unusual appearance by a culture minister, after a lengthy absence, at the annual event’s awards ceremony. The festival’s biggest prizewinner was «Skipper Straad,» a 35-minute film by young director Irini Vachlioti, which raked in several awards. Vachlioti’s film, inspired by the late sea-loving poet Nikos Kavvadias’s first novel, «Vardia,» earned her the top prize for the festival’s Greek section. It also picked up awards for set design, costume design, sound, best film in the women’s category, and best Balkan film, as well as the critics’ prize. «Red Sky,» a film by Panayiotis Fafoutis, which observes the lives of two young ravers, won the festival’s second prize for its «realistic approach to the subject.» In the international section, Victor Asliouk, a Belarussian director, won the category’s top prize for his film «We Are Living on the Edge.» Some turmoil was caused by the judges’ decision to refuse extending a prize for the festival’s documentary section. The panel’s decision, it explained, was based on what it considered to be a poor turnout of documentaries at the festival. Documentary makers have preferred to take their work to various other festivals, including the Thessaloniki Film Festival, for its documentary section. An appearance by Evangelos Venizelos at the awards ceremony, the first by a culture minister since the late 1980s, went down as a major event. Prior to this year’s festival, there had been official protest from Drama’s municipality about a lack of state funding for the event, whose financing has remained stagnant since 1996. Venizelos pledged an additional 90,000 and 150,000 euros for the next two years, respectively. He also said his ministry plans to establish a film school in Drama, a promise that has also been made for Thessaloniki.