Thessaloniki renews Horizons
By Stephen Cremin
Fri, 04 November 2011, 09:15 AM (HKT)
The 52nd Thessaloniki International Film Festival (4-13 Nov 2011) opens tonight with Alexander Payne's The Descendants and a €1.6 million ($2.2 million) cash injection from the European Union's National Strategic Reference Framework.
Saddled with a multi-million Euro debt — with its budget cut in half in 2010 — the festival has focused on its role as an incubator and launchpad for Balkan cinema, while continuing to spotlight independent cinema from around the world.
This year's edition marks Dmitri EIPIDES' second year as festival director. Eipides was one of more than twenty film festival directors invited to the inaugural Beijing International Film Festival 北京國際電影節 in April.
The festival's Open Horizons section, a revival of Eipides' long-running New Horizons section, includes three Chinese films that touch on social issues: Buddha Mountain 觀音山 (2010), The Piano in a Factory 鋼的琴 (2010) and documentary Black Blood 黑血 (2010).
The other Asian films in the festival are Amir NADERI's Cut カット (2011), Sanjeewa PUSHPAKUMARA's Flying Fish Igillena maluwo (2010), Justin KURZEL's Snowtown (2011) and Poland-Japan co-production Tomorrow Will Be Better Jutro będzie lepiej (2010).
The Independence Days programme — which had hosted the majority of the festival's Asian selection — was discontinued after last year's edition, when it held a complete retrospective of Thailand's Apichatpong "Joe" WEERASETHAKUL อภิชาติพงศ์ วีระเศรษฐกุล.
There are no Asian films among the 15 titles in this year's international competition. There is one Asian jury member, US-based producer KUROIWA Hisami 黒岩久美 who has worked with Hal HARTLEY, Wayne WANG 王穎 and Meng ONG 王明.
One of Europe's oldest festivals, Thessaloniki only began showing world cinema in 1992. In 2006, the festival hosted a major retrospective of contemporary cinema from China that was programmed by Film Business Asia's critic Derek Elley.
Loosely-built drama of three youngsters and a retired opera singer is deceptively impressive.
Self-indulgent, masochistic drama set in Japan and directed by an Iranian.
The Piano in a Factory
A lightly comic gem with an ensemble cast and stylised look in perfect synch.
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