Despite the COVID crisis, Thessaloniki International Film Festival keeps going strong and acting as a showcase for Greek film production. Τhe 61st Thessaloniki International Film Festival presents 18 feature films and 21 short Greek films. Fifteen films produced in Greece and in co-production with other countries will have their Greek premiere in Thessaloniki (“First Run” and “Beyond Borders” sections, part of the Greek Film Festival 2020 program). Three films that already had their Greek premiere will be screened in the “A Second Viewing” section. The short films of the 61st TIFF will be the 21 award-winning films of the 43rd DramaInternational Short Film Festival.

The Thessaloniki International Film Festival continues to share the magic of cinema with all viewers without exception for yet another year during the 61st TIFF. Accessibility conditions are implemented in collaboration with the Movement of Disabled Artists. The 61st TIFF will host two accessibility format screenings for two rare and beloved Greek films: A crazy, crazy family by Dinos Dimopoulos and Morning patrol by Nikos Nikolaidis. The online screenings of the films will, also, be accessible.

Three films will participate in the International Competition Section: Apples by Christos Nikou, Kala Azar by Janis Rafa, and Digger by Georgis Grigorakis. Also, this year there are more Greek films in the Meet the Neighbors competition section -three, instead of two. The films are Daniel ’16 by Dimitris Koutsiabasakos, All the pretty little horses by Michalis Konstantatos, and Amercement by Fokion Bogris.

Most of the films will be available online, on a special festival platform. The screenings will be geoblocked to viewers from Greece. A three-member committee consisting of Constantinos Vasilaros (producer), Rinio Dragasaki (director), and Giannis Kantea-Papadopoulos (film critic) assisted the festival in the pre-selection phase of the Greek films participating in the Greek Film Festival 2020.

This year, in particular, the Festival, both through the program and through TIFF’s Agora, supports with specific actions, programs, and awards the Greek film community that has been affected by the pandemic. The Festival gives a screening fee to all the Greek films that participate in the program. In addition, it continues its support to Greek films traveling abroad, offering 3,000 euros per film to creators who participate with their first or second film in major international film festivals (Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Locarno, Karlovy Vary, San Sebastian, London, Rotterdam, New York, Tribeca, Toronto, Sundance, Busan, IDFA, Hot Docs, Nyon). A recent example is the film Apples by Christos Nikou screened at the Venice Film Festival. TIFF collaborates with Cinando; Greek films of the 61st TIFF will be available in the online platform, thus giving to film professionals worldwide the opportunity to watch them.

These are the Greek films that will be screened in the 61st TIFF:

tiff61collageFirst Run

Newcomers as well as established filmmakers have entrusted us with their latest works. These are (in alphabetical order) the Greek films that will have their premiere in Thessaloniki.

ALL THE PRETTY LITTLE HORSES 3All the pretty little horses by Michalis Konstantatos

In the wake of a disaster, Aliki and her husband Petros take their young son Panagiotis to a provincial seaside town, seeking refuge. Working temporary jobs, Aliki and Petros try to put their lives back together so they can return home to Athens. When Aliki begins to realize that the plan is not working – or worse, may not even exist – the distance between her and Petros begins to grow.

ΠΡΟΣΤΙΜΟAmercement by Fokion Bogris

Vangelis scrapes by as a small-time weed dealer. He hopes to switch to a steady job but his prior arrest record won’t allow that. When his neighbors threaten to call the cops on him, his life changes overnight. He leaves his apartment, drops his stash and takes refuge at his sister’s house where he meets her boyfriend, Petros, a bouncer tied to the local underworld. Petros offers Vangelis a way out, by involving him in various crime deals, which can provide easy money and respect among the underworld. The only problem is Vangelis doesn’t want to be part of this world.

ΜΗΛΑ 2Apples by Christos Nikou

As an unpredictable, sweeping pandemic causes people to develop sudden amnesia, a man finds himself enrolled in a recovery program designed to help him build a new life. His treatment: performing daily tasks prescribed by his doctors on cassette tape, and capturing these new memories with a Polaroid camera. Greek writer-director Christos Nikou’s debut feature is a surreal and enigmatic work, a beguiling exploration of identity and reality.

DANIEL 16Daniel ’16 by Dimitris Koutsiabasakos

Daniel, a German teenager, is sent to a juvenile offender community in Greece, to serve his sentence. There, in an abandoned village of the Evros river region, near the border with Turkey, he experiences never-felt-before emotions and is called to solve difficult dilemmas… His final decision will surprise everyone.

DIGGERDigger by Georgis Grigorakis

A contemporary western about a native farmer who lives and works alone in a farmhouse at the heart of a mountain forest in Northern Greece. For years now, he has been fighting with an expanding industrial monster digging up the forest, disturbing the lush flora, and threatening his property. Yet, the greatest threat comes with the sudden arrival of his young son, after a twenty-year separation. They turn into enemies under one roof. Father and son confront each other head-on, with nature as their only observer, a showdown that ultimately yields an unexpected redemption for both.

ΠΡΑΣΙΝΗ ΘΑΛΑΣΣΑGreen Sea by Angeliki Antoniou

Anna has lost her memory but she hasn’t forgotten how to cook. One night she shows up in a working-class neighborhood. There she meets Roula and gets a job as a cook and a place to stay at his shabby seaside tavern. In the kitchen, amidst the scents of spices and old forgotten recipes, Anna struggles to rebuild her past. Her simple but delicious food awakens memories for the regulars who in turn help her to reconnect with herself. The story takes an unexpected turn when Roula suddenly stumbles upon the Green Sea and discovers Anna’s true identity.

ΓΥΜΝΑΣΤΗΡΙΟ 1Gym by The Boy (Alexandros Voulgaris)

When is a performance not a performance? When it is a confession. When is a script not a script? When it is but spoken word. When is music not music? When it is breath. When is a director not a director? When he is a gym trainer. When is a film not a film? When it is memory. When is a gym not a gym? When it is a safe for naked souls.

KALA AZAR 2Kala Azar by Janis Rafa

A young couple’s ritualistic job routine of collecting and cremating animal bodies from their owners and the roadkill that they come across is challenged when they cause an accident themselves.

Sarmako: A Tale of the North by Marco Papadopoulos
October 1949: The Greek Civil War is supposedly over, but its impact is still felt by the people and a great divide exists between them. Antonis, the owner of a tavern with live music, stays neutral and tries to maintain his small establishment. But as his past is now catching up with him, he is forced to make a difficult decision. While the war, the decade and a whole epoch come to an end, the band of musicians plays their classic rebetika songs.

 Senior Citizen by Marinos Kartikkis

Theoharis, an elderly and lonely man, takes refuge in the hospital every evening to spend the night. He sleeps on the benches and chairs of the outpatients’ wing because he is afraid to be alone. Every morning he returns to his house, where his only companion is his cat and his memories. One night he is discovered by a young nurse, Evgenia, who tries to learn more about him. Theoharis is initially skeptical and refuses to give her any information. Yet, gradually a relation of mutual trust develops between the two of them, and Evgenia offers to help him.

ΕΝΑΣ ΗΣΥΧΟΣ ΑΝΘΡΩΠΟΣ 2A Simple Man by Tasos Gerakinis

Makis, a peaceful winemaker, lives isolated on a small border island, with his 30-year-old daughter Sophia, after she left her husband’s house. Makis is taken hostage by a dangerous fugitive. He will go beyond his limits in his efforts to prevent his daughter’s involvement with the criminal. Νow he has to face head-on the consequences of his actions.

Tailor by Sonia Liza Kenterman

Α coming-of-old-age story of an eccentric Tailor who doesn’t quite fit into the world and has isolated himself into the attic of the family’s tailoring shop. On the verge of losing everything, he finally gets triggered: with a wondrously strange bricolage coach—a tailor shop on wheels— he reinvents his life and his craft. He changes the brides of Athens and falls in love for the first time in his 50s.

ΠΟΙΟΣ ΘΑ ΦΑΓΩΘΕΙ 1Who will be eaten by Elpiniki Voutsa-Rentzepopoulou

The film’s heroine vacillates between individualism and collective action, the luxury of abstention from the public sphere, and the emotional struggle of participating in it. Athens, her city, is like a ship sailing on the Aegean with passengers from all cultures. There is not enough space for everyone on this ship and so class cannibalism begins. Will she be able to save the next child to be eaten?

Beyond Borders

Sisters apart by Daphne Charizani

Rojda, a German soldier and native Kurd, volunteers for a mission to train female Kurdish soldiers in Iraq to fight ISIS. No one must know that she is actually looking for her missing sister.

VASYS ODYSSEY 2Vasy’s Odyssey by Vasilis Papatheocharis

Two lives, two different worlds, and two unalike places. Vasi and Alexandra, two strangers, travel from Alicante to Greece, through France, Italy, and Albania, on a trip where they will learn to face their mistakes and delve into their personal and family relationships. A journey through gastronomy, folklore, old traditions, and the difficulty of communication between foreign languages. A search for happiness, dreams, and hope.

A Second Viewing

Ballad for a Pierced Heart by Yannis Economides

In a small Greek town, when amorous passion meets the greed for money, dead bodies begin to pile up, and Olga, the “sleeping beauty,” will never know the horrors she has been spared of…

 In the Strange Pursuit of Laura Durand by Dimitris Bavellas

Antonis and Christos are two friends who live in a small apartment in Athens. In distress and secluded from society, they survive mostly with Christos’s unemployment benefit. The two friends are also united by their common, platonic love interest for Laura Durand, a pornstar of the 90s who disappeared mysteriously several years ago. They also perform 8-bit music with their offbeat band named Speed_28. When things go from bad to worse, the friends decide that time has come to start the quest for Laura Durand.

PARI 2Pari by Siamak Etemadi

Pari, an Iranian mother in her 40s, lands in Athens to visit her son but quickly discovers he is nowhere to be found. Pari’s search for her son will follow his rebellious footsteps, taking her on a journey from the darkest corners of the city and the hidden depths of her soul to her ultimate freedom.

Bella office

Elena Topalidou in “Bella” (2020) dir. Thelya Petraki

Greek short films

■ The 21 award-winning films of the 2020 International Short Film Festival in Drama.

Anthology of a butterfly by Kostis Charamountanis

Antivirus by Anastasia Sima

As if underwater by Anthi Daoutaki

Bella by Thelyia Petraki

The call by Marios Psaras

Dakar by Stelios Moraitidis

The end of suffering (a proposal) by Jacqueline Lentzou     

Escaping the fragile planet by Thanasis Tsimpinis

Goads by Iris Baglanea 

Harmonica Man by Alexandros Skouras

In her steps by Anastasia Kratidi

The Jar by Kyriakos Rontsis

Madonna F64.0 by Stavros Markoulakis

The meaning of August by Manos Papadakis          

Melatonin by Nikos Pastras

Pashka by Oltjon Lipe

Premier amour by Haris Raftogiannis

Rosa Kairo by Jacques Simha

TEO, my neighbor by Christos Karteris

Violetta by Fivos Imellos

Vouta by Dimitris Zahos

The Festival’s main goal, especially in these difficult times, is to support the Greek production with specific actions, using all the tools that Agora has to offer. The 61st TIFF:

  • Continues its successful program Meet the Future, presenting every year young professionals from different fields of filmmaking. This year, the program will focus on eight up-and-coming directors of photography of Greek films.
  • Increases the number of Greek projects, presented in Crossroads Co-Production Forum.
  • Presents Agora Lab, a development workshop for Greek projects. There, film experts will offer free guidance to Greek filmmakers with projects at the editing stage.
  • Dedicates Thessaloniki Locarno Industry Academy International 2020 to film professionals living in Greece.
  • Presents two new awards for Greek projects in the development sections of Agora, one for a project in Crossroads Co-Production Forum and one for a project in Works in Progress and Agora Lab.
  • Strengthens its collaboration with the Drama International Short Film Festival. The award-winning short films will be screened in Agora Film Market, where top film professionals will have the chance to see them.
  • Also, the online Audience Development & Innovation Online Lab, a collaboration between Europa Cinemas and the Thessaloniki Film Festival will offer ideas and solutions for the new era of COVID-19 and for re-designing the cinema experience.