47th THESSALONICA FILM FESTIVAL Written by Giannis Frangoulis Translated by Konstantinos Vassilaros


The fog that covered the city of Thessalonica yesterday, Sunday, still hasn’t completely disappeared, but still one can see a splash joy from an adequate distance. Sadly I cannot say the same about the Greek Cinema. In this case, the fog remains and all signs point to the conclusion that it will be very tough to get rid of it. Anyway, we begin our journey with a French film, in which our own Kostas Gavras has added his own touch as co-scriptwriter and producer. The film called “My Colonel” (“Mon colonel”), directed by Laurent Herbiet, is about the war between France and Algeria. The French army is condemned for its inhuman actions towards the Algerians, specifically towards the insurgents. Towards the end of the film an effort is made to associate those events with the present situation, coming to the conclusion that the modern French army is fighting for human rights and for peace. It appears that Gavras has forgotten his past, the battles he described in his previous films, like “Z”, and has come into terms with the present political scene, following the line of common policy of the humanitarian aid forces of aiding countries in need, which in the end become forces of repression. Actually during the Press Interview a clash took place concerning the same issue, between a Greek and a French director. The film, on the other hand, reminded us the themes of Gavras’ recent work: disapproval of the Church, intense criticism, without getting into the actual essence of things.

The Greek Films The Greek films that were shown on Monday 20th November left us with a bitter taste. Why can’t we ever see a good film made by a Greek director, a film that would rival with the foreign ones? The film “Illustration” by Dionysis Haritopoulos was a plane, one-sided situation and nothing more. Filled with glamorous events, beautiful women, hot-shot businessmen, set in a society that does not resemble in anyway the Greek one. This type of lifestyle is enjoyed only by an overwhelming minority of the Greek society, and this type of lifestyle is ridiculously generalized, implying that the Greek society is same with the American. On top of that, the director and scriptwriter did not even attempt to make a satisfactory analysis of this small minority, at least in order to allow themselves to comment and satirize adequately. On the contrary, Loukia Rikaki, with her film “Hold me”, which deals with a social group, tolerably representative of the Greek society, but with a script that by no means help the outcome of the film. The short stories, almost independent from one to the other, do not manage to reach a conclusion and leave us with an impression of a decaying Greek society. The great cinematography could have helped the film, but the script and the poor editing, bearing no particular rhythm or style, were not strong enough to keep us interested.

The foreign films The film of Tariq Teguia, “Rome rather than you”, of an Algerian/French co-production, contained all the “bad” elements of French cinema; deep psychological exploration of the protagonists and a basic description of an atmosphere rather that a social situation. The massacre of the Algerians from the fanatic Islamists was poorly adapted for the screen and made it difficult for us to condemn it. Within the same league, the film of Julia Loktev, “Day night & day night”, a co-production of USA, France and Germany, is categorized. In this film we have a story of woman that wants to execute a suicide-bombing attack. We are taken through the route of her preparation right to the moment of an unsuccessfully executed terrorist act, in the centre of New York. The reason remains untold: either the bomb was not armed or somebody fooled her into thinking she was going to do it. We only see her walking stressed in the streets without any point. This film could only be a bland satire of suicide-bombers from Palestine, Iraq and elsewhere. The only way we can treat this film is as a blasphemous and tasteless story. With the help of the Chinese film “Manhole”, by Chen Daming, we can realize how much worst Chinese Cinema has become. The film was nothing more than a blatant imitation of the classic American storytelling style, only executed badly. The intellectual component was non-existent and it is easy to say that this was an inanimate piece of cinema, without any soul. A classic Iranian film, “Fireworks Wednesday”, by Asghar Fahadi, will show us in a realistic way, the modern Iranian society by adding to the filmmaking technique stains of poetry. The Brazilian film of Claude Assis, “Mango yellow”, transports us, in a very enjoyably playful manner, in the Brazilian society, and makes such a beautiful criticism and satire, that even Almodovar would be jealous of. Very beautifully edited, with an intelligent script and a very meticulous direction, made by a team of filmmakers we should definitely keep an eye on. The film “Drama/Mex”, by Gerardo Naranjo, plunged deep into surrealist cinema. It described certain social situations; the collapse of a bureaucrat, the fall of a chauvinistic goalkeeper and the indecisiveness of a woman having to choose between passion and love. The narration was as effective, as a beautifully spoken fairy tale. Allegorically, it took us through a dreamy path, to an artificial world, still seeming completely genuine. At this point it approached realism in order to launch us in a surrealist world of Ruiz or even Saoura.

The 10 films chosen by PHUCC (Pan-Hellenic Union of Cinema Critics) Today during a simple ceremony the 10 first films selected by the members of the Pan-Hellenic Union of Cinema Critics (PHUCC) were announced. The ceremony took place in the Pavlos Zannas Room. It was also announced that the group of films were not actually 10, but 11, because of a tie between three films trying to get to the last place. Thus, this “Football Dream-Team”, these 11 films are the following: 1. “The Dragon”, Nikos Koundouros 2. “Eudokia”, Alexis Damianou 3. “The Traveling Players”, Theo Angelopoulos 4. “Photographs”, Nikos Papatakis 5. “Stella”, Michalis Cacoyannis 6. “The Counterfeit Coin”, Giorgos Tzavellas 7. “Rempetiko”, Kostas Ferris 8. “Reconstruction”, Theo Angelopoulos 9. “Karakalou”, Stavros Tornes 10. “The Four Seasons of the Law”, Dimos Avdeliodis 11. “Sweet gang”, Nikos Nikolaidis This is a beautiful group that will remain for several years to embellish the Greek cinema. If you ask why not any recent films were included, one could only answer that the new ones are by far inferior to the old ones. Sadly!! I have personally selected some of them, but I also included some experimental films, by Antoinette Aggelidi and Kostas Sfikas.

Monday 20th November 2006, Giannis Frangoulis


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