Pantelis Voulgaris steps down from festival helm

Just a few weeks after being assigned the presidency of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, veteran director Pantelis Voulgaris resigned yesterday, saying in a letter to the press that «my disappointment is caused by the unprecedented war that unfortunately is instigated or tolerated by the previous management of the festival.» His resignation was accepted by the Culture Ministry. The festival’s former president, Palme d’Or winner Theo Angelopoulos, answered the charges in a letter by saying, «I am sorry because Pantelis Voulgaris lost his nerve and is taking as a personal affront an international reaction to the about-turn of an exceptionally successful, by common consent, institution into a local event.» Voulgaris was appointed on May 31, along with the new director, Despina Mouzaki, who stepped into the shoes of the highly popular Michel Demopoulos. News of the changes in the festival’s management provoked widespread reactions both in the local and international press, as did the new management’s decision to focus the festival more strongly on the Greek film industry. Demopoulos, in a letter from the Cannes Film Festival, wrote, «Before my true friend Pantelis Voulgaris discovers dark conspiracies, let him ponder two things: 1) If he thinks that I and Angelopoulos are capable of such cheap tricks as he alludes to in his letter; and b) if he believes that all the people around the world who signed the protest can have been guided and manipulated.» This last comment comes in the context of a website ( petition protesting the removal of Angelopoulos and Demopoulos, signed by leading figures of the international film community.

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