It’s been stretched near to financial breaking point and battered back into fiscal survival and, today, the Thessaloniki International Film Festival has put on its game face and is ready to open for its delayed grand entry, starting today and running to December 12, instead of its customary mid-November slot. Now that the state-funding bonanza is well and truly over, TIFF director Dimitris Eipidis and the other dedicated curators of the festival’s different sections have pulled together a program that highlights TIFF’s greatest strengths – introducing new talent, shining the spotlight on the Balkans, giving a leg up to independent filmmakers and creating ties between producers, funding agencies and filmmakers – while trimming some of the fat. So, now in its 51st year, TIFF has hunkered down at the atmospheric port complex on the Thermaikos Gulf in Thessaloniki with its usual lineup, comprising the International Competition, a presentation of Greek films produced in 2009 and 2010, the Balkan Survey, the Experimental Forum, Independence Days and a new feature titled Open Horizons, which gives the floor to new trends in international filmmaking, focusing on thematically original, aesthetically remarkable and socially minded films. In the Spotlights and Tributes section of the festival, the audience is introduced to filmmakers who have produced remarkable work that is largely overlooked by mainstream cinemas, but which expresses domestic and regional trends, that breaks new aesthetic ground and addresses timeless or timely issues. Kathimerini English Edition spoke to two of the filmmakers who will putting in an appearance at TIFF this year, and whose work is the subject of tributes.