Romance in cinema: it’s practically a structural component. The very concept of cinema as an art expresses a romantic tendency, a human instinct for something that may surpass the expressive possibilities of the other arts. Inventions, creativity, technical difficulties, imagination: they have all been tamed and are constantly being bent to our will – for what? To be able to create yet more? To produce yet more worlds and heroes? To tell yet another story about a boy that meets a girl?
Surely our need to do this is a romantic one, not very different to the heroic acts of amedieval epic hero on a quest for the unachievable or a man who stands amid nature, trying to describe the indescribable. Cinema is an act of romance. And a festival in Greece celebrating its 50th year is the small, happy denouement of the romanticism of countless people who came before.
So it is only fitting that, in its anniversary edition, the 50th Thessaloniki International Film Festival presents Focus: Post-Romance.
A small segment which, so far, has focused its interest on one thing: the experiential character of cinema, which means feeling and identification, which means the here and now. Therefore, if we consider that cinema has pretty much distilled the concept of romanticism down to the phrase “boy meets girl”, the 50th Thessaloniki International Film Festival and the Focus segment are trying to bring romance to the here and now, just like the films themselves.
That is to say: “boy meets girl on the phone” (Easier with Practice, Kyle Alvarez), “boy and girl meet other boys and girls but remain strangers to each other” (Unmade Beds, Alexis dos Santos), “boy survives with girl but they never speak” (Samson and Delilah, Warwick Thornton), “boymeets sex doll” (Air Doll, Hirokazu Kore-eda), “boy meets girl on the condition that it never gets personal” (Nothing Personal, Urszula Antoniak), “boys and girls break up” (I Am Not Your Friend, Györgi Palfi), “boy and girl in modern-day Seoul communicate with notes in bottles” (Castaway on the Moon, Hae-jun Lee) or, at the very least,“girl meets boys” (La Reine des pommes, Valerie Donzelli).
The theme of this year’s Focus is very simple, nothing more than a simple romance. What makes it more complex are the evolving concepts of gender and sex, communication and technology, the urban environment and nature; human identity today; and the desire of this identity to express itself cinematically, remaining basically the simple hero of an epic fairytale or a knight in shining armor in the heart of a romantic young damsel. Or of a festival that is celebrating its 50th anniversary...