Double focus on the big screen

With two tributes, this year’s Thessaloniki Film Festival, which will take place November 14 to 23, will explore the contemporary concept of a commune as well as the cultural variety of the Middle East. The festival’s permanent section «Focus» will this year be titled «Commune 2008.» The tribute won’t look into the traditional notion of a commune, meaning a group of people who live together, but will examine its wider definition, namely the creation of social groups on the outskirts of the social establishment. Under the supervision of Constantinos Kontovrakis, «Focus» will screen a selection of recent films from all over the world that explore contemporary forms of communes but also their history, going back to the hippie movement and the European movements of 1968. The program will include Hungarian Kornel Mundruczo’s «Delta,» in which two step-siblings living in an isolated region on the banks of a river cause the wrath of the nearby villagers when they start developing feelings for each other. Another film that will be part of the tribute will be Canadian Yves Christian Fournier’s «Tout est parfait,» a film where the leading character, a teenager, discovers that his four best friends have decided to all commit suicide together, without including him. Apart from the loss, he also has to deal with the fact that he is the only survivor. The tribute will further screen Argentinean Pablo Aguero’s «Salamandra,» Helier Cisterne’s «Les paradis perdus,» Japanese Naoko Ogigami’s «Megane,» American Brian Pera’s «The Way I See Things» and France’s Rabah Ameur-Zaimeche’s «Adhen,» also known as «Dernier Maquis.» In its tribute to the Middle East, the Thessaloniki Film Festival will screen 11 films from countries such as Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Yemen. Ten of these are recent productions, from 2005 to 2008, while the last, Youssef Chahine’s 1978 «Alexandria… Why?» will be shown in honor of the Egyptian filmmaker, who passed away last July. Festival director Despina Mouzaki pointed out the importance of the Middle East in cinema. «From Egypt, a country with a great film tradition and film industry, which is turning more toward political cinema, to Yemen, which is taking its first steps in international cinema, the Middle East is a broad region where major changes take place daily and have an impact upon the international economic, social and political fields. These changes can be found in the subject matter of films made by artists who dare to touch upon hot, contemporary issues.»