Time for another film fiesta

The time of year has rolled around again when the lovely city of Thessaloniki starts preening itself for its annual film festival. The 43rd Thessaloniki International Film Festival, to run from November 8-17, will once more occupy the city’s port complex of warehouses with screenings, exhibitions, press conferences, presentations, parties and relaxed coffee moments, while the main screenings and gala presentations will take place, as always, at the Olympion I and II cinemas on the charming Aristotelous Square overlooking the Thermaic Gulf promenade. The structure of the festival remains the same: The main part is the International Competition section, organized by the festival’s director, Michel Demopoulos, in which 14-16 feature films will vie for the Golden Alexander, carrying a 36,700-euro purse, and the Silver Alexander, accompanied by a 22,000-euro cash prize. The second leg, and perhaps the most interesting in terms of presenting developments in world cinema, is the New Horizons section, compiled by Dimitris Eipides and composed of 35-plus titles representing new trends in independent production. Last, but not least, there’s the Balkan Survey, one of the festival’s most vital ventures, which showcases the work of filmmakers throughout the region. A Thessaloniki Film Festival is never complete without a retrospective, and after last year’s tribute to John Boorman, this year the celebrated five-time Palme D’Or nominee Marco Bellocchio will step in both as guest of honor and president of the International Jury. Starting with controversial films such as «Pugni in Tasca» of 1965, «La Cine e Vicina» (1967), «Nel Nome del Padre» (1971), «Salto nel Vuoto» (1980), «Diavolo in Corp» (1986), «Il Principe de Homburg» (1991) and down to this year’s Cannes competition entry «La Ora de Religione,» this retrospective presents all 16 of Bellocchio’s feature films, as well as 12 documentaries and shorts. The retrospective will be complemented by an exhibition of Bellocchio’s drawings, created while he was at the preproduction stage of his films. Two more retrospectives follow: One to the Hungarian director Bela Tarr with all eight of his feature films, including «Csaladi Tuzfeszek» and «Satantango,» and another to Greek filmmaker Pandelis Voulgaris. Here, the festival will showcase the entirety of his work, starting with early shorts such as «The Thief» (1965) and «Jimmy the Tiger» (1966), and running up to recent feature films such as «Stone Years,» «Quiet Days in August» and «A Long Road.» Maverick American director Bob Rafelson will feature in the festival with selected screenings of some of his greatest works, such as «Five Easy Pieces,» «The Postman Always Rings Twice» and «The House on Turk Street,» while a new section of the festival, Asian Vision, will highlight films from one of the world’s most important emerging cinema industries. The other main part of the festival is the Greek Films section, which will present all Greek films produced during the year and forward them for the State Cinema Awards.