CULTURE

Thessaloniki delights for the public

Though the Thessaloniki International Film Festival from November 9-18 featured over 170 films, those members of the Greek public who were unable to attend the event will have the opportunity to see only a handful of these at mainstream movie theaters. Greek distribution agents have shown an interest in buying those films that have a broader public appeal – festival films are often thought of as being too heavy in subject or style. The first of these, hitting the screens from tomorrow is «The Piano Teacher,» by 59-year-old German director Michael Haneke, who participated in the festival’s New Horizons section. Starring Isabelle Huppert, Benoit Magimel and Annie Girardot, Haneke, who proved his ability to weave masterful psychological portraits in his 1997 film «Funny Games,» takes a penetrating look at the manner in which a seemingly retiring, disturbed piano teacher has her life turned upside down when she is seduced by a younger student. (Haneke’s screenplay is based on a novel by Elfriede Jelinek.) The public will also have the opportunity to see the latest film by the eminent Iranian director, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, «Kandahar: The Sun Behind the Moon.» Based on the real story of an attractive young Afghan-born Canadian journalist who travels across war-torn Afghanistan in order to rescue her sister from death, the film reveals the director’s talent for beautiful cinematic imagery and a well-structured narrative, though the characters’ profiles tend to appear rather weak. Other New Horizons entries that will be shown are: Mexican Alfonso Cuaron’s «Y Tu Mama Tambien» (And Your Mother Too) – a coming-of-age film combining humor, drama and scenic landscapes that unfold as three teenagers learn the lessons of life on a road trip; the Czech film, «Divided We Fall,» directed by 34-year-old Jan Hrebejk, in which he blends the dramatic tension of historical World War II films with elements of social drama and comedy; «Bully,» a deeply disturbing look at American youth by Larry Clark, the director of the 1995 film «Kids;» and «The Business of Strangers,» the first feature film by Patrick Stettner that takes a critical look at cutthroat corporate life though the story of a 40-something career woman. International Competition Greek distributors also selected two of the 16 entries in the International Competition section for the public’s entertainment: «Under the Stars,» by London-based Cypriot Christos Georgiou, a film revealing the scars of a divided country, related through a road trip of self-discovery; and «Bar,» another film by a Cypriot artist, Aliki Danezi-Knusten. From the Out of Competition section, Filippos Tsitos, a 35-year-old Greek director living in Germany, has been singled out for his emotional portrayal of immigration and marriage in «My Sweet Home.» Special surprises There are also a few surprises in store this winter as distributors prepare to present «Millennium Mambo,» by the eminent Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao Hsien, the poetic «Warm Water Under a Red Bridge» by Japan’s Shohei Imamura – one of the country’s best known and most respected artists – «Va Savoir» by France’s Jacques Rivette, the film that opened the Thessaloniki festival, and the hilarious «Lucky Break,» the latest project by «The Full Monty» director Peter Cattaneo, which closed the award-giving ceremony in Thessaloniki.