CULTURE

It’s showtime in Thessaloniki

A film inspired by Dante’s «Inferno,» and part of a trilogy conceived by director Krzysztof Kieslowski before his death in 1996 and by his longtime screenwriter Krzysztof Piesiewicz, is opening this year’s Thessaloniki International Film Festival on November 18. Directed by Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Danis Tanovic – of the award-winning «No Man’s Land» (Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Screenplay at Cannes in 2001) – «Hell» (L’enfer) is the second part of a trilogy which began with «Heaven,» directed by Tom Tykwer and starring Cate Blanchett and Giovanni Ribisi. Featuring Emmanuelle Beart, Karin Viard, Marie Gillain, Guillaume Canet, Jacques Gamblin, Jacques Perrin and Jean Rochefort, among others, the film tells the tale of three sisters who have drifted apart and are each embroiled in their own personal problems, weighed down by a dark family history and an ailing mother. The return of a man recently released from prison makes each of them re-evaluate their lives and try to come to terms with their past. For the November 27 closing ceremony, the festival presents «All the Invisible Children,» a film comprising seven different stories directed by a group of different – acclaimed and emerging – filmmakers. Each director addresses the plight of children who are marginalized in their societies, from different geographical perspectives, and is aimed to benefit UNICEF and the World Food Program. Mehdi Charef’s «Tanza» is set in Africa, where the 12-year-old title hero is a member of a group of young, heavily armed guerrillas and who is sent on a deadly mission by the ringleader. In «Blue Gypsy,» Emir Kusturica stays in Serbia-Montenegro and revisits old themes with a Rom boy who is trying to make a break from his troubled family. Spike Lee keeps his lens focused on the USA in «Jesus Children of America,» in which young Blanca has to bear the taunts of her peers at school in Brooklyn, New York, because her parents are drug users, while also discovering that she is HIV positive. Life in the slums of Sao Paolo is the focus of Brazilian filmmaker Katia Lund’s segment, titled «Bilu and Joao.» In a somewhat upbeat manner, the director shows two street children who survive by collecting waste paper and aluminium. In «Jonathan,» Ridley Scott teams up with his daughter Jordan to show the plight of Eastern European children of war through the eyes of a disillusioned and burnt-out war photographer. Italy’s Stefano Veneruso presents «Ciro,» the story of two Napolitan boys living in the projects on the outskirts of the city and who find themselves even further disenfranchised when Ciro steals a Rolex off a driver stuck in traffic. The concluding episode of the series is John Woo’s «Song Song and Little Cat,» where the award-winning director juxtaposes the lives of an unhappy little rich girl with that of another little girl raised by a homeless man who found her in the garbage.