CULTURE

Bright, new directors of the digital world show films at Drama festival

The 10th International Short Film Festival in Drama, the great fiesta of short-film aficionados, kicked off last Sunday and this year there’s room for all – even those who have never worked a camera before. The idea belongs to the British Council, which organized a competition of digital short films for young filmmakers (young directors had to be up to 30 years old). Requirements for film entries included them being of 3-minutes’ duration and their completion being within a three-month period. That’s how the «3 in 3» project developed: entries numbered 70 and a few days ago the first top prizes were awarded to four films: Ivan Salfa’s «Ryakia» (First Prize), Alexis Ioannou’s «All the Time in the World» (Second Prize), as well as Evangelos Poulinas’s «Without a Trace» and Spyros Katramidis’s «Thinking Wild,» which shared Third Prize. All four films were transcribed into a 35mm format, effectively becoming part of the official Short Film Festival calendar. Digital democracy According to British Council officials, digital technology offers the right kind of framework for the development of a new cinematic «democracy.» «The rapid progress in digital technology balances access to the kind of advantages some people have against others,» believes Isidora Papadrakaki, artistic director of the British Council in Athens. «The digital age may create a revolution in short-film production, including their marketing, their distribution and their promotion. As the fields of the Internet and digital television broaden, short films can now be screened through more varied mediums. Some people even believe that the World Wide Web offers its audience a brand-new experience, one that is described as ‘theater for people with a short attention span.’» Ivan Salfa heard of the competition through a friend. «Three minutes, that’s not very long!» he thought. Especially given his prior experience in film: an eight-week film course in Los Angeles, amateur involvement in the production of video clips, not to mention working as an assistant director on television projects. For the competition, Salfa opted to rework material he had amassed during an excursion beyond Athenian boundaries. Salfa always carries a camera, and one day he found himself walking on the narrow streets of Ryakia, a village in the Pieria region. «I was walking up and down the streets and because I was carrying the camera I found myself surrounded by children,» he says. «We got talking and I started asking them questions. All that we talked about, all the answers I got from the kids subsequently became the film.» Salfa does not want to divulge the content of the answers; he remembers, however, a few of the questions: «Why don’t you like the fans of the Olympiakos soccer team?» «Where do you take your girlfriends when you wish to spend some time alone with them?» Following news of the award, 28-year-old Ivan is seriously considering a career in film. «This whole thing became a huge source of joy,» he says. «These kind of projects should take place all the time! Once a month! These projects enable young people who are constantly looking within themselves to find ways to show their work. There are a lot of people out there who need to be encouraged.» It seems that so far, this kind of encouragement has been highly beneficial to Salfa. What began in a most amateur way in Ryakia is slowly turning into a documentary. Salfa continues to roam around the country, camera always at the ready. He visits villages scattered around Greece and talks to the children living there. The material – which will be accompanied by music – is scheduled to become the content of his next, independent production. Dance, film While Ivan Salfa already enjoyed an elementary relationship with the world of cinema, that is not the case of Evangelos Poulinas, a graduate of the Athens Sports Academy and the State School for Dance. In the end, however, the short film he developed along with another four fellow students shared Third Prize with Spyros Katramidis’s «Thinking Wild.» The film, «Without A Trace,» is a direct reference to videodance, a genre that, in the last few years, has met with huge success and interest in this country. «Through our choreography, we wished to look for the trace elements of life,» says Poulinas. «What we choose to leave behind and what we choose to keep.» This newfound success, however, has not altered Poulinas’s professional orientation. «No, I will not give up dancing,» he says. «But my aim is to try once again to come up with something that will combine dance and cinema.» For all those who did not make the trip to Drama, where all three short films will be screened, there will be a second chance to view them in October. As part of the «Drama Visits Athens» event, all of the festival’s 70 films will be screened at the Trianon Cinema.