CULTURE

Studies in the art of film

Approximately 65 students of the 75,963 that made it through the national university entrance exams this past summer will form the student body for the newly established Film Studies Department of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki’s School of Fine Arts. The first successful entrants mark the beginning of the school’s operation and will form its backbone as the five-year course is progressively eased in. The degree offers eight fields of specialization – directing, screenplay writing, production, cinematography, editing, set and costume design, sound and art and cinema history – that cover a range of theoretical and applied disciplines. Classes in the first and second years will be similar for all students, who will be allowed to select a specialized area of study for their third and fourth year, while they will finish the course with a dissertation to be completed in the fifth and final year. The department, which is being funded by the European Union’s programs for expanding tertiary education, is ready to operate, but, like many other newly established initiatives, is facing a serious problem of accommodation. For the next two years at least, students will be forced to use various venues at the university and around the city. Construction work has yet to begin on a 10,000 sq.m. building in Stavroupolis that used to be part of an old tobacco factory and which was given to Thessaloniki University by the Ministry of Agriculture in order to house the department. Just one 200 sq.m. area in the entire building has been refurbished so that it can be used as a workshop. «We knew from the outset that the renovation would not be ready in time, but the development of areas such as studios and workshops, and the procurement of equipment, all funded by the Ministry of Education, should be complete in one-and-a-half to two years,» explained Aikaterini Douka-Kambitoglou, deputy dean for academic affairs at the university. In the meantime, this year’s first-year students will be taking classes at the warehouse complex of Thessaloniki’s old port and at the Olympeion movie theater. The main core of teaching staff consists of professors from other departments within the university, while specialized staff will be selected within the very near future and given contractual posts. Furthermore, Douka-Kambitoglou will be presiding over the temporary general assembly. «The special committee of the Aristotle University in charge of designing the program,» explained Douka-Kambitoglou, «worked hard to create a good department that would cover a very serious gap in the country, which is the only country in Europe without a film studies department at university level.»