The international jury of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival was introduced to the public and press yesterday in a conference at Warehouse C in the port complex. The jury’s president, Italian director Marco Bellocchio, was unable to attend due to an illness and is expected tomorrow. His fellow judges, however, were able to explain the manner in which they will assess the films competing for the gold and silver Alexanders. «There is no difference in the way we judge the work of new directors as compared to an established artist,» said Greek director, critic and writer Achilleas Kyriakidis. Last year’s Golden Alexander recipient – Albanian filmmaker Fatmir Koci – added that «it would be wrong to judge new directors differently. The important thing is to have good films and to judge them on their quality.» American veteran director Bob Rafelson discerned an «amazing dynamic» in new filmmakers. «I can learn more watching the films of ‘fresh’ artists than I can from the established ones,» he said. French filmmaker and critic Thierry Jousse sees an advantage in having no point of reference with new directors. «They are ‘virgin territory,’ and there are no pressures… so we can judge them for what they really are,» he said. «Our duty is to discover the ‘gems’ among new artists,» said Yugoslav journalist and film critic Miroljub Vuckovic, adding: «As a Swiss maitre d’hotel would say, ‘You can have all the right ingredients and excellent production, but you only have one chance to make a first impression.’» The atmosphere among the jurors seems amiable and relaxed. «We have known each other for only a couple of days and we are working together very well…. We have a common language and it is called cinema,» explained the only female member of the jury, acclaimed Iranian actress Niki Karimi.