‘El Greco’ rules in Thessaloniki

«El Greco,» the ambitious Greek-Spanish film production directed by Iannis Smaragdis, won the first prize of the State Quality Awards for Greek productions at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival with 105 votes, a comfortable 26 votes ahead of «Uranya» by Costas Kapakas and the more politically inclined and incisive «Diorthosi» (Correction) by Thanos Anastopoulos, which ended a vote behind in third place. Smaragdis’s biopic about the celebrated Greek artist, which has so far generated 650,000 tickets at the box office, collected eight awards, extending the festival’s tradition of preference for big productions. The eight awards won by Smaragdis’s «El Greco» also included first prizes for directing, photography, set design (a posthumous award for Damianos Zarifis), soundtrack (there were two first-prize winners here: Vangelis Papathanassiou, who penned the «El Greco» score, and Panayiotis Kalatzopoulos, who wrote the music for «Uranya»), sound, editing, and makeup. Kapakas’s «Uranya» tells of the love adventures of five youths growing up in a provincial Greek city in the late 60s. In «Diorthosi,» director Anastopoulos follows the trials of the film’s introverted protagonist as he makes his way through depleted Third World environs in an Athens peopled by migrants, the homeless, and other marginalized members of society. «If ‘El Greco’ represents the ideal Greek who makes us proud – a person we look up to – then ‘Diorthosi’ is about the type of Greek we are but often refuse to acknowledge,» remarked Anastopoulos. «In this respect, my film is an anti-Greco film,» he continued. The young Constantina Voulgari was a narrow winner in the Best New Director category. Her «Valse Sentimentale,» earned 89 votes, not far ahead of Vladimiros Kyriakidis’s «Straight Story» which attracted 19 votes less. Voulgari’s film offers an indolent yet desperate look at the relationship between a young man and woman in the rebel-minded central Athenian district of Exarchia. Their relationship is stuck in a rut and neither one is able to make any decision. A number of Greeks, or Greeks of the diaspora, fared well in the festival’s international competition. Of seven awards granted by the festival’s jury, headed by Czech director Jiri Menzel, four were won by Greeks. Colombian-Greek director Spyros Stathopoulos’s «PVC-1,» an 85-minute, single-shot thriller, won the festival’s second prize behind first-prize winner Cai Shangjun, the Golden Alexander winner for «Red Awn.» Stathopoulos’s film also picked up an additional award for Best Actor, won by Alberto Sornosa, and the international critics association’s first prize. The Best Actress award was won by Anna Lalasidou for her role in «Elli,» a German film directed by a Greek, Athanassios Karanikolas. «Diorthosi» was awarded the Best Screenplay prize. Anastopoulos, its director, co-wrote the script with Vassilis Raisis.