The Thessaloniki International Film Festival, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and the British Council, has organized a tribute to British film in Athens and Thessaloniki this month, focusing on 10 films that either directly or indirectly refer to sports. The tribute spans 57 years of British film, from 1939 to 1996, and includes watershed films such as John Boulting’s «Brighton Rock,» a dark social thriller based on the novel by Graham Greene and starring Richard Attenborough; Lindsay Anderson’s «This Sporting Life» (1963); and Tony Richardson’s «The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner» (1962) – the latter two films being symbols of free cinema. Other features include «The Arsenal Stadium Mystery,» a great 1939 whodunit murder mystery that takes place in the feverish midst of the Arsenal soccer team; «Gregory’s Girl» (1981) by Bill Forsyth – a humorous and sensitive tale of a young man’s equal passion for girls and soccer; and the Academy Award-winning 1981 film «Chariots of Fire» by Hugh Hudson, that reaped Oscars for best film, screenplay, music (composed by Greece’s Vangelis Papathanasiou) and costumes. Issues of racism and hooliganism in sports also appear in the tribute, the first theme being tackled in a rather humorous manner by «Playing Away,» a 1986 film by Horace Ove that relates the story of a Brixton cricket team, composed of West Indians, who go to Suffolk for an away charity match. Philip Davis’s «I.D.» looks at hooliganism through the eyes of an undercover police officer who, while working on a case to bust a ring of thugs, finds himself drawn in to the pub-stadium-streetfight lifestyle. The newest movies in the Thessaloniki Film Festival’s tribute to British film are «Fever Pitch» (1996) by David Evans, starring Colin Firth in the role of an English professor and Arsenal fan who follows the team on all their away games, and Ruth Gemmell, his lover and greatest contender against his soccer passion; and «When Saturday Comes» (1996) by Maria Giese, starring Sean Bean, Emily Lloyd, Pete Postlethwaite and John McEnery, a film relating the ambitions of a young amateur soccer player from the industrial and degraded city of Sheffield to join the ranks of top-league professional soccer. The tribute in Athens will take place from this Friday until Thursday, February 21 at the Trianon Filmcenter and in Thessaloniki from February 22 to 28 at the Olympion cinema.Trianon, 21 Kodringtonos, tel 010.821.5469; Olympion, Aristotelous Square, tel 0310.378.404.