One of the pressing questions that the filmmakers, who participated in the Q&A of Cyprus Short Film Day 2016, were repeatedly asked concerned the essence and merits of short film. “What is a short film?”, CSFD artistic director Dr Marios Psaras asked the audience in his opening speech. “Is it just a stepping stone for filmmakers before they make their way to the making of feature films? Or is it a kind of art in its own right?” The filmmakers admitted that while shorts are, indeed, a necessary pathway to follow in order to gain experience and expertise in the field before embarking on the making of features, it soon becomes evident that short film has a life of its own. It is not merely a matter of temporality, though precisely because of that it emerges as a completely different kind of storytelling, with its own rules or lack thereof, its own platforms of funding, production, distribution and exhibition. The latter was the topic that naturally dominated the discussion. ... More
In its fourth edition, Syros International Film Festival gave a carte blanche to an emblematic figure of experimental filmmaking to curate one of its programs. Pip Chodorov was born in 1965 to a writer and a painter and raised on a farm. He started making films and music in 1971, after studying cognitive science at the University of Rochester. He then moved to Paris to study film semiotics, and in 1990 joined the legendary experimental filmmakers cooperative Light Cone. During his visit on the Greek island, this devoted supporter of the cinematic as a thought process explained how films can function as points of entry to a different state of consiousness and gave us a rare opportunity to discuss the challenges of programming in the era of vast accessibility.
Geli Mademli: The central theme of this year’s SIFF is “revision” – which is at the same time a prerequisite for change and a filtering method. Do you follow a specific method when “filtering” and curating a festival program?
Pip Chodorov: It is always different. For me every program has a different approach and it has a different audience as well. It depends if it is for a festival or for a university room, if the audience is already experienced in experimental film or if they have no idea what they will encounter. I am always interested in how the program will be received. In this case I was asked by SIFF’s head programmer Nathaniel Draper to make a selection, but I didn’t expect that on this Greek island there would be an interest in experimental films. When I started putting things together, the first film that came to mind was Jean Eustache’s film Une Sale histoire: It’s the same story told twice and it promotes the idea of repetition in a new way, where the second time is different and plus it informs the first time. ... More
For three years in a row I have followed the International Film Festival of the city of Gothenburg and each year I am impressed by the warmness in which residents and visitors of the city embrace the largest film festival of the Nordic region. GIFF maintains its recognition as a “winter classic”; an event which rejuvenates the city in the midst of a freezing and dark period and infuses the gloominess of the West coast of Sweden with luminous images from all over the world. This year’s festival welcomed 450 films from 84 countries which were shown at 1031 screenings in 30 theatres around the city; this brief reports aims at covering the event’s main highlights with a particular interest in the festival’s focus, award winners, and honorary guests.
The 39th Göteborg International Film Festival featured a dual focus on countries with different, yet significant contributiong to the global film industry. On the one hand, Italy was honored as a film country with an established contribution to global cinema. On the other hand, the festival turned the spotlight on Nigeria, as the second-largest film industry in the world (following India), with a yet undiscovered value of cinematic stories in direct correspondence with societal developments. Both Italian and Nigerian films enjoyed a number of sold-out screenings, as well as parallel events and activities which enriched visitors’ knowledge about the context of filmmaking in each country, as well as the sources of inspiration for the production of cinematic stories. ... More
There is something very special in attending for the first time one of the ‘Big Three’ film festivals. Together with Cannes and Venice, the Berlin International Film Festival is one of the three major gateways for non-studio produced films to gain critical attention and break into the market. Extensive and often real-time media coverage of the premieres, of the critics’ responses and of the awards contributes significantly to the make-or-break of films, but also to the festival’s own prestige status. By the time you read this report you will have heard about the winning films, you may have read a few reviews about them, and … you might have even have contributed to the box-office receipts of the widely anticipated studio-produced erotica Fifty Shades of Grey, which also had its European premiere at the Berlinale , out-of-competition, of course.
I arrived in Berlin in the evening of the second day of the festival, too late to secure tickets for any screenings, but just in time to catch some distant glimpses of a luminous Nicole Kidman on the red carpet and get a scribbly autograph from James Franco – both of whom were in town for the premiere of Werner Herzog’s Queen of the Desert. But as star-gazing was not my priority, I was very relieved the next morning when I found a way to actually see some films: rather than queuing outdoors in the freezing cold from 7am each morning for next-day tickets, my experienced journalist friend showed me how to queue for same-day press screenings indoors instead… Excitement notwithstanding, I soon realised that the Berlinale is a trying experience even for accredited participants like me. Hierarchies abound, privileges vary, queuing is de rigueur – and often in vain. During the five days of my stay – half the duration of the festival – I saw nine out of the nineteen competition films, as well as a few films in other strands. Two competition films stood out for me: Romanian Aferim! and Guatemalan Ixcanul/Ixcanul Volcano, while two other Latin American films, both from Chile – El Boton de Nacar/The Pearl Button and El Club/The Club – were also very powerful. Pleased to find that all these films won awards, I was nonetheless sad to have missed Jafar Panahi’s Golden Bear winner Taxi – although undoubtedly its award will help it reach my nearby art-house cinema. ... More
During the 38th Göteborg International Film Festival, which took place in the second largest city of Sweden between 23 January and 2 February 2015, we saw things that one does not see every day. This blog post is a brief report from the leading film festival in the Nordic countries: The first section is dedicated to some of this year’s highlights, whereas the sections that follow focus on more specific aspects of the event, including the special focus on European Cinema, the presence of films from Greece and films related to Greece, as well a mention of this year’s award winners.
The Festival’s highlights
One of this year’s festival’s highlights undoubtedly was the presence of legendary Swedish filmmaker and actress Liv Ullmann. Ullmann attended this year’s event and received the Nordic Honorary Dragon Award, while she also held a Master Class where she discussed her relationship with the art of filmmaking and her 2014 film Miss Julie. ... More
Financially leaner than during the previous post-crisis years, the 55th Thessaloniki International Film Festival continued to successfully serve its key aim of offering a varied, challenging and engaging programme of independent films from around the world to audiences in Greece’s second-largest city.i It also presented the most expansive programme of Greek films for years, celebrating the centenary of Greek cinema by screening a total of 36 features, of which 20 were voted online from a selection of 200 films from the past. Aside from marking the appearance of the first Greek feature-length film Golfo in 1914, the Greek programme also reflected the dynamism and international recognition of Greek cinema in the last five years. This renewed emphasis on the projection of national production foregrounds questions about the primary role of the festival: is it predominantly a space for nurturing and promoting Greek talent, or rather a Greece-based site for international discoveries? One also wonders whether the behind-the-scenes, but widely reported, tensions among the festival’s artistic director, Dimitris Eipides (whose term in office was extended by another three years in September) and the president of its board of governors, film director Yannis Smaragdis, have in any way been connected to this shift in emphasis, and whether the increased presence of Greek cinema will remain a more permanent feature of future festival editions.ii ... More
There are many ways that an individual can experience a film festival. The following lines document my experience from the 37th Göteborg International Film Festival (24 January – 3 February 2014) as a new follower and new resident of the city. Instead of an exhaustive report on the participants, the awards and the surrounding activities, I chose to focus on some aspects of the event that I found particularly interesting during my first encounter with the largest film festival in Scandinavia. These include the festival as a forum for the discussion of contemporary socio-political issues; the festival as an occasion for a creative dialogue between practitioners and academics; and last, but not least, the festival as an accommodator for the discussion of problems and developments taking place in other media, such as television. Some highlights of the festival, as well as a brief comment on the presence and the reception of Greek films, conclude this report.
Before going into more details regarding the themes mentioned above, I would like to refer you to the welcoming message on behalf of the festival's artistic director, Marit Kapla, included in the event's accompanying publication. In her preface to the Programme, Kapla describes the experience of films as "moments of rediscovery"; instances when the individual finds the time for concentration and contemplation and manages to escape the plethora of information provided thanks to digital communication and technologies. Within this context, films are described as spaces in time where the human mind temporarily blocks out the fatigue caused by the continuous flow of information and images, and becomes re-sensitized to the visual stimuli and experiences by means of the cinematic form. ... More
The 54th Thessaloniki International Film Festival (1-10 November 2013) will undoubtedly be remembered as “the festival of Jim Jarmusch”. Not only because the very name and the films of Jarmusch are benchmarks of independent cinema worldwide, but also because the rest of the Festival developed in a quite moderate way in terms of films, filmmakers and events. Despite the crowds that were gathered outside the festival’s ticket glass cubes, the viewers’ enthusiasm during the screenings (most of which were sold out) and the overall cinephilic mood of the public, especially among young people who packed the venues in large numbers (more than 90%), the Festival programme was rather predictable, with no particular surprise regarding films, emerging national cinemas or groundbreaking film trends.
Jim Jarmusch, the legendary “prince of independent cinema”, was the undisputed protagonist of Thessaloniki, where he was invited to attend the Festival as
an honored guest, a fact that enhanced the overall cinephilic atmosphere. Jim Jarmusch’s new film Only Lovers Left Alive premiered in
Thessaloniki, opening the Festival at the Olympion Theatre. After an eventful parade of public officials, who annoyed viewers with their
impersonal speeches about the future of cinema, Jarmusch managed to calm the spirits and to bring the Festival back to its familiar, mystical rhythms of
the viewing experience.
... Read more