Cinematic schooling

Ancient Greek, math, cinema: As unconventional as it may sound, that is what the program will be like for many schools this year. As of October, a new program – at the initiative of the Opening Nights Athens International Film Festival – will come into effect with the backing of the General Secretariat of Youth and the participation of the Greek Film Center. «First Period: Cinema» was mostly launched because of Greece’s poor cinema attendance and the type of movies the majority of the public watches, mostly young people. Through special screenings, the new program will try to introduce to high school students another kind of cinema that is different from the blockbusters but which does not reject commercial appeal or the big names. The films will be screened in the mornings, so that they can be incorporated into the timetable, in selected halls that have all the necessary audiovisual equipment. Filmcenter cinemas as well as their municipal counterparts will be at the new program’s disposal. Every screening will be preceded by an introduction by critics and cinema experts about the topic and the cinematic language of the film, as well as information about the filmmaker. A discussion of the students’ impressions will end the session. For the next season, «First Period: Cinema» will work on a pilot basis; 50 screenings have been scheduled for Athens and 20 for Thessaloniki, Iraklion, Patras and Larissa. Three more screenings will take place in more remote areas, namely Ithaca, Astypalaia and Soufli. More than 40 films have been selected, most of them dealing with issues of society, history, ecology, arts and culture. The selection includes: Oliver Hirschbiegel’s «Downfall,» about Hitler’s last days; Luc Jacquet’s family documentary «La Marche de l’Empereur,» a chronicle of the yearly march of the emperor penguins as they travel to their breeding grounds; Christian Carion’s «Merry Christmas» which reveals an unknown story of truce during WWI; Wolfgang Becker’s «Good Bye, Lenin,» which deals with the Westernization of eastern Germany and George Clooney’s «Good Night, and Good Luck,» which deals with freedom of the press and censorship. «For us, cinema is not just entertainment, it is a complete educational procedure and a coherent way of understanding our world better,» said Orestis Andreadakis, who is responsible for the program. «But we must learn to watch films properly and not just consume their along with a bag of popcorn.» The selection of the films was made by a five-member committee, consisting of the Opening Nights Festival and Cinema magazine director Christos Mitsis, the magazine’s chief editor and festival coordinator Andreadakis, director Tassos Boulmetis and actress Themis Bazaka, among others. Most of the films will be foreign, but older and more recent Greek films have been included, such as Theodoros Angelopoulos’s «O Thiasos,» Michael Cacoyannis’s «Stella» and Penny Panayiotopoulou’s «Hard Goodbyes: My Father.»