Digital films make a leap

As of this year, the Thessaloniki Film Festival is establishing a new competition section exclusively with Greek films that have been filmed in digital form. This is the follow-up to the pilot «After Midnight» section which ran last November with four digital productions by Panos Karkanevatos, Petros Kalkovalis and Melina Tsambani, Greek-Danish Daniel Bolda and Angelos Spartalis. The new section merely reflects reality, since at last year’s festival, 15 out of the 21 Greek productions in the official program had been filmed primarily on video. It is obvious that digital technology not only changes the way we see cinema but also shapes an entirely different landscape in the way that movies are now filmed. Its main advantage compared to traditional filming is that it allows the director to make his or her movie faster and more cheaply. That was the attraction for filmmakers Petros Kalkovalis and Melina Tsambani, the only ones from last year’s group who will definitely feature in the new section. «We wanted to make the film and didn’t have the money. So, in order to do it, we turned to video,» they told Kathimerini. «It is much cheaper and filming only lasted 14 days.» They also found the script of their first full-length film, which is reminiscent of a theater script, very helpful. The digital camera also provides the director with more flexibility, if he is after quicker scenes and a rather «experimental» sense of aesthetics. The Danish creators of «Dogma» were among the first ones to introduce the new method. Yet that was not the case of the two Thessaloniki-born filmmakers, who studied in Britain before returning to Greece for good. «Digital format has a trap,» Petros Kalkovalis pointed out. «If you look at it purely from the financial point of view, you risk of letting the script down and, eventually, letting the whole film down. What I mean is that the script might not be video material, but you resort to the video due to the lack of money or because you have to wait four years for the funding.» For Melina Tsambani it is unthinkable that a festival of shorts, such as the annual Drama festival, does not accept digital productions, hence obliging young filmmakers to spend thousands of euros for the transfer to film. The festival’s new section will accept films with a minimum duration of 45 minutes (not documentaries), provided that they are first screened in public at the festival. All digital formats are welcome, from mobile phones to high definition. Thanos Anastopoulos, responsible for the festival’s Greek section, explained to Kathimerini that the prize will fund the production’s transfer onto film.

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