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54th Thessaloniki Film Festival Updates!
6 November 2013
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The curtain rose on the 54th Thessaloniki Film Festival on Friday November 1st with a modest ceremony that took place at 20:30 at the Festival’s historic seat, the Olympion theatre. Jim Jarmusch’s much anticipated film Only Lovers Left Alive was screened after the official opening of the festival. Always uncompromising in his artistic vision, Jim Jarmusch builds with Only Lovers Left Alive a unique film universe, which in this case focuses on the vampire mythology. The film was praised by critics and is representative of the American filmmaker’s style, serving as an allegory about companionship, art and the state of humanity. The American director, who is visiting Greece for the first time, attended the screening.

Photo by Michalis Batsouls, Motion Team.

The host of the opening ceremony was actress Eleni Roussinou who stars in Alexander AvranasMiss Violence, the much-lauded Greek film included in the festival program.

Alexandros Avranas’ chilling film Miss Violence premiered at a packed Olympion theater on Sunday, November 4, 2013. The film is part of the 54th TIFF Special Screenings section. The film, which thrilled the audience, is a realistic study on violence, structured on the dark secrets of a family. It has already received two major distinctions at the recent Venice International Film Festival: Avranas won the Silver Lion for Best Director and Themis Panou won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor. The filmmaker also revealed that his next project is a love story.

Photo by Basilis Ververidis, Motion Team.

Welcoming the audience at the screening, TIFF director Dimitri Eipides said: “I really love this film. It was a revelation that took audiences by storm, sweeping awards at various festivals, including Venice. When solid promotion, talent and persistence are combined, good results follow. I congratulate the director for his amazing film and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”
Taking the floor, Alexandros Avranas said: “Thank you so much. I am deeply moved.” He then presented members of the film’s contributors including Eleni Roussinou, Reni Pittaki and Sissy Toumasi.

After the screening, the director participated in a Q&A session with the audience. He said that his film “was not meant to be shocking, but rather it was made with all due respect to people who have experienced similar adversities. It is based on real events and raises the issue of society’s passive inaction in dealing with such cases. We all have something to lose, which is why we refuse to take a stand. We prefer to stay behind closed doors.” Addressing a question from the audience about whether the film damages Greece’s image abroad, he said: “Miss Violence is impersonal in a sense, it does not relate exclusively to Greece.” Commenting on the child actors in his film, Mr Avranas explained: “They were treated like young adults. We told them the truth about the story and they felt they were doing something to help.”

Photo by Michalis Batsoulas,  Motion Team.

The next day, the complex and urgent issue of immigration and Greece’s position as a crossroads in the migration movements from East to West were the main issues discussed in the round table Wrong Destination, which took place at the John Cassavetes theater on the occasion of the screening of the documentary Stop-over by Iranian Kaveh Bakhtiari. 

Stop-over (the second screening will take place on Saturday, November 9, 15:00, at the John Cassavetes theater) attempts to shed light on the problems immigrants face in Greece and their struggles with the notorious Greek bureaucracy as they strive to reach other European countries. These conditions lead many of them to desperate and often dangerous attempts to escape from Greece.

**All films in the Open Horison and the Greek programme are financed, along with other sections of this year’s Festival, by the European Union - European Regional Development Fund, in the framework of the Regional Programme for Central Macedonia - 2007-2013.

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  Eleni Roussinou
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