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Balkan films at 53rd Thessaloniki International Film Festival
9 October 2012
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For the 19th consecutive year, the Balkan Survey section of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival (TIFF), programmed by Dimitri Kerkinos, showcases a selection of the most important Balkan films of the year. The Balkan Survey objective is to create a communication platform between films and filmmakers of the area and international audiences. This year’s Balkan Survey core program consists of 13 films, both shorts and features. 

The feature films that constitute the main program of the Balkan Survey section, works by renowned filmmakers of the region as well as promising newcomers, are:

When Day Breaks by Goran Paskaljevic (Serbia/Croatia/France).
An elderly music professor receives an invitation to his local Jewish museum, where he learns an unexpected and harsh truth about his family and its Jewish history. A moving film about discovery, identity and knowing oneself, shot in close-ups and largely built around a nuanced performance by lead actor Mustafa Nadarevic, When Day Breaks is Serbia’s entry for the 2013 Foreign Language Academy Award.

Zeki Demirkubuz’s Inside (Turkey), a remarkable adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “Notes From The Underground”, is a portrait of a man plunged in the darkest recesses of human nature. The anti-hero, Muharrem, teetering on the edge of madness, is an archetypical marginal figure at war with the world and himself. Inside won five awards at this year’s Istanbul IFF, including Best Director and Best Actor for Engin Günaydin.

Two women directors, Aida Begic (Bosnia) and Maja Milos (Serbia), with Children of Sarajevo and Clip respectively, examine the effect of the post-war trauma on the region’s younger generations. 
Children of Sarajevo, the story of an orphaned sister and brother who live in Sarajevo, looks at the struggle of building even the simplest of lives. 
Clip, winner of the Tiger and KNF Awards at this year’s Rotterdam IFF, explores the nihilism of the mobile generation through the story of a teenage girl, who, faced with a bleak family life and minimal prospects for the future, resorts to an escapist existence, fuelled by drugs, sex and destructive relationships.

Radu Jude’s Everybody in Our Family (Romania) is a brilliant black comedy, centering on a newly single father on the edge, who is trying to cope with the novel realities of divorce and joint custody of his young daughter.

Night of Silence byReis Celik (Turkey), on the other end of the spectrum tonally and thematically, is a very different “family film”. Minimalist, subtle and contemplative, it observes the first night of a strange and unsettling couple: an older man fresh out of jail, and his 14-year-old bride, brought together in an arranged union created to put an end to a blood feud.

Finally, the Turkish-Greek production Beyond the Hill by first-time director Emin Alper (a participant in the 51st TIFF Crossroads co-production forum and the 52nd TIFF Works in Progress section) is a tense family drama set in an isolated grazing area in rural Turkey. Nomads that bring their goats beyond the hills threaten a family’s livelihood; the outside hazard, however, also reveals hidden truths about the family itself. 
Beyond the Hill won the Caligari Prize at the 62nd Berlin Film Festival.

In addition, 6 short films will be screened, amongst which is the 2012 Cannes IFF Palm d’ Or winner, Turkish film Silent, directed by L.Rezan Yesilbas, which depicts the struggle of a Kurdish woman who wants to visit her husband in prison. 
Romanian Adrian Sitaru’s House Party is a film about the particular rules and ethics of people living next to each other, seen through the relationships of an apartment building’s neighbors.
30-40-50, holding its international premiere in the 53rd TIFF, is directed by three women filmmakers belonging to the newest generation of Romanian cinema, while Turkish film Musa by Serhat Karaaslan, stars renowned director Zeki Demirkubuz.

Beside the Balkan survey section, Balkan films have a strong presence in the International Competition Programme as well with five movies. Those are:

The Color of the Chameleon, by Emil Christov (Bulgaria) won the Second Special Mention
Joy, by Elias Giannakakis (Greece) and
Boy Eating the Bird΄s Food, by Ektoras Lygizos (Greece) won the Best Actor Award
Mold, by Ali Aydin (Turkey, Germany) won the Special Jury Award - Silver Alexander

  Night Of Silence
  When Day Breaks
  Beyond the Hill
  Children of Sarajevo
  Everybody in Our Family
  Maja Milos
  Adrian Sitaru
  Radu Jude
  Reis Celik
  Goran Paskaljevic
  Emin Alper
  Zeki Demirkubuz
  Aida Begic
  Ali Aydin
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