48TH THESSALONIKI FILM FESTIVAL
November 16-25 2007
THE 48th THESSALONIKI FILM FESTIVAL OPENS ITS DOORS
The 48th Thessaloniki Film Festival started off in a splendid display of lights, colors and sounds. In the packed Olympion theatre, the audience counted down the start of the Festival through the Festival logo and the pulsating sounds of Nikos Touliatos and his percussion group, as the sounds synced the rhythm of the entire theatre.
Those that attended the opening ceremony (which was directed by Thanos Anastopoulos) had the chance to experience an atmospheric, cinematic universe. Scenes and images from European avant garde cinema were shown on the Olympion theatre’s screen as well as on four huge, whitish balloons that were suspended from the ceiling. Through the “eyes” and words of Ingmar Bergman, the audience learned about the great director’s first experience in cinema. When the narrator’s evocative voice stopped, Konstantinos Kontovrakis stepped up to the stage and greeted the audience mentioning that the 48th Thessaloniki Film Festival focuses on young directors and discovering new and fresh cinema. “However, we are proud to honor those who have taken their art to new heights, renowned artists such as John Sayles, Costas Gavras, William Klein, Fatih Akin, David Strathairn and Chris Cooper who are visiting us today, here in Thessaloniki to share their experiences and especially their art with us”.
Despina Mouzaki, the Director of the Thessaloniki Film Festival, had a warm welcome in store. “In these difficult times with the dramatic changes that leave their mark on every passing moment, cinema is not merely a means of escape, but an avenue for deeper communication. A source of hope and a reminder that although everything around us may seem fluid, the basic and certain values of human existence remain unchanged”, she said characteristically. “Cinema in a starting-point for a dual journey. A journey to soul and the mind, and a journey to where our common conscience coincides, a journey to the world that surrounds us, to the world we belong to”, Mrs. Mouzaki stated and invited the audience to participate in this journey. Finally, on behalf of the Board of Directors, Mrs. Mouzaki thanked the people who preserve the tradition of cinema and who built a solid image of modern Greece, the inspired artists, those who think and act their cinema and actively support the Festival, the Ministry and the sponsors.
On behalf of Thesaloniki’s Mayor Vasilis Papageorgopoulou, Vice-Mayor of Culture, Vasilios Gakis congratulated the Board of Directors, the organizers and the participants of the festival during his speech.
“This is the largest celebration of the 7th Art in our country”, said Mr. Gakis and added that Thessaloniki has an audience which appreciates and treasures quality cinema, “an audience which has grown with the Film Festival and its joyous memories”.
Also attending the opening ceremony of the 48th Thessaloniki Film Festival was the Minister of Macedonia and Thrace, Margaritis Tzimas. “Tonight the city of culture and art embraces all the artists of the 7th art, all those who capture life through a lens and on film. To all those who open a window of communication and avenues for society to walk on”, he said characteristically. The Minister concluded saying that the Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace has a sacred duty of supporting the Thessaloniki Film Festival and announced that, starting in next year’s festival, a new award will be instituted for documentary or fiction film shot in the region of Macedonia and Thrace.
The General Secretariat of the Ministry of Culture, Mr. Christos Zahopoulos also spoke at the opening ceremony saying that cinema is a living reality which describes human situations and converses with our souls and urged everyone to enjoy it. Mr. Zahopoulos welcomed all of the artists to the festival which he described as “a cinematic event which unites people regardless of its various differences”.
Georges Corraface, the President of the Thessaloniki Film Festival, gave a unique and direct invitation for everyone to “share the Festival’s pulse with the whole city”. Mr. Corraface exited the room and with the help of the festival’s volunteers, released balloons in the sky at Aristotelous square, marking in this symbolic way the start of the Festival.
Also speaking at the ceremony was actor David Strathairn of Wong Kar Wai’s My blueberry nights, which was screened at the end of the ceremony. Mr. Strathairn considers the film’s screening at the 48th Thessaloniki Film Festival rather important, since, as he explained, “it is screened in a country which has been dealing with the very difficult topic of humanity and the search for love for millenniums, which is also the main subject of “My blueberry nights”.