CULTURE

Greek film makes it to Berlin festival

The 50 selectors of the State Film Awards at the Thessaloniki Film Festival may have spurned «One Day in August» (Dekapentavgoustos) the film by Constantinos Yiannaris, but this was not the case at the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale). More in tune with Greek opinion, the 52nd Berlinale, under its director Dieter Kosslik, picked «One Day in August» as the official Greek entry for the international competition section, due to commence on February 6. In Greece, February 1 is the date set for the first screening of Yiannaris’s film, which has not been seen by Greek cinemagoers but was nevertheless warmly received in Thessaloniki, receiving the Association of Greek Film Critics’ (PEEK) top award. «One Day in August» is the first Greek film in 11 years to be shown at the International Competition Section of the Berlinale. The last entry, Pandelis Boulgaris’s «Quiet Days in August» (Isyches Imeres tou Avgoustou), was in 1991, while only six movies all told competed from 1963 to 2001 (the first being Nikos Koundouros’s «Young Aphrodites,» which garnered the Silver Bear and Best Director’s Award.) Last year saw a Greek director, Philippos Tsitos, participating in the international competition with «My Sweet Home,» but it was a German production. Yiannaris is no rookie at the film fest. In 1999, his «From the Edge of the City» took part in the Panorama section of the festival. But Greek cinema has received a boost from the selection of «One Day in August,» given that the local industry is all the more rarely represented at the three film festivals of Europe (Venice, Cannes and Berlin), with the exception of a regular attendance by Theodoros Angelopoulos. This year, however, Costa-Gravas will put in an appearance with the French production «Amen» while Athina Maximou (who plays in Nikos Panayiotopoulos’s «Beautiful People») has been selected for the relatively new Shooting Stars program, which promotes young European actors. Good prospects In his new movie, Constantinos Yiannaris follows the August flight from the city of a typical Greek family experiencing a silent tragedy, and two couples in crisis. But «One Day in August» did not only move the Berlinale directors. The most recent issue of the trade magazine Variety picked it out as one of the two Greek productions that stood out at the Thessaloniki Film Festival (the second was «The Cistern» [I Akrovates tou Kipou] by Christos Dimas) and predicted that it would prove successful at European box offices. But though the magazine singled out the excellent acting and the music by Akis Daoutis for special praise, it criticized the sub-plot with the young burglar who breaks into the apartments of the absent holidaymakers as superfluous. The program has not yet been announced officially, but «One Day in August» fills in one piece of the Berlinale jigsaw of 20 films that will take part in the competition section of the film festival. Other confirmed entries are Bertrand Tavernier’s «Laissez Passer,» Otar Joseliani’s «Lundi Matin,» Francois Ozon’s «Huit Femmes» and Tom Tykwer’s «Heaven.»