CULTURE

Long-lost cinematic treasures to be screened in Thessaloniki

Those attending the 44th Thessaloniki International Film Festival (from November 21 to November 30) will have the opportunity to enjoy five treasures of the French Cinematheque considered lost for years. These are Andre Antoine’s «Hirondelle et la Mesange» from 1920, King Vidor’s «Wild Oranges» of 1924, Josef von Sternberg’s «Anatahan» (1953), Roberto Rossellini’s «India» (1959) and Youssef Chahine’s «Son of the Nile» (1951). The films’ common point of reference is the great adventure that led to their rediscovery by the French Cinematheque. Apart from this, each film is of particular interest. In his silent thriller, Belgian Andre Antoine used groundbreaking techniques for the time, such as multiple takes from various angles as well as flashbacks, among others, while Vidor’s film is his least known and hardest to find creation. Von Sternberg’s «Anatahan» was censored due to its sensuality – its originality, however, lies in the English-speaking voice-over, while the actors speak Japanese. The retrieved copy of «India» is the one presented by Rossellini at the Cannes Film Festival in 1959, while Chahine’s «Son of the Nile» was the product of Egyptian-Russian diplomatic efforts and became the first (and last) film co-produced by the two countries. Initially the director had used the Nubians as the narrators of the region’s «official story.» The result was prohibited by both regimes and the director was forced to re-edit the film. Audiences at the upcoming Thessaloniki festival will see the sole remaining copy of the celebrated Egyptian director’s original film. A spiritual child of Henri Langlois and Georges Franju, the French Cinematheque is a living legend of European cinema. Besides featuring the world’s largest cinematic archive, the organization is also known for its tremendous educational efforts: 1,300 screenings and 200 restored films annually.