Magazine article Screen International

Athens Festival Kicks off Today with 179-Film Programme

Magazine article Screen International

Athens Festival Kicks off Today with 179-Film Programme

Article excerpt

Jacques Audiard's Rust & Bone, starring Oscar winner Marion Cotillard and rising Belgian star Matthias Schoenaerts, and Benh Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild will bookend the 18th Athens International Film Festival-Cosmote.

Matthias Schoenarts is expected to attend tonight's gala screening of Rust & Bone.

The multiawarded Beasts of the Southern Wild (Cannes Camera d'Or and Fipresci prize, Sundance Grand Jury Prize) will close the proceedings on Sept 30.

Schoenarts will be joined during the festival by several actors and directors of the films unspooling at the event.

Among them, Fatih Akin will present Polluting Paradise, his polemic, environment pollution themed documentary shot in his native Turkey. He will be accompanied by his long time associate and co-writer Adam Bousdoukos. Akin will also stage a musical event acting as DJ.

Christian Petzold will introduce his Berlinale prizewinner Barbara, with actor Ronald Zehfred also in attendance.

Philippe Falardeau will introduce his latest, Monsieur Lazhar, which represented Canada at this year's Oscars, Hans-Christian Schmid will be on hand to accompany his Home for the Weekend while US independent Dan Mirvish will introduce Between Us.

Festival topper Andreas Andreadakis put together a 179 films-strong selection spreading in 12 sections, having just wrapped the highly successful summer sister event, "Athens Open Air Film Festival".

Organized for the second consecutive year with the help this time of the NSRS (National Strategic Reference Framework) European Union funds made available through the Greek Film Centre, the summer event served as an appetizer for the AIFF as well as a most welcome free entertainment-more than 20,000 attendants- for the Athens public severely affected by the rampant financial crisis.

Following with this socially minded policy AIFF will make available 2000 free tickets to unemployed cinephiles as well as reducing the [euro]6 admission price to [euro]4 for morning screenings.

Alll that in spite of the adverse financial conditions and lack of sponsors which affect all cultural events the AIFF included. It is indicative that Andreadakis and his team were trying, hours before the start of the event, to secure the cash set to accompany, as in previous years the two main awards of the event (Golden Athenas).

New this year are, new festival venues following the destruction by fire during the last February riots of the long time festival cinema flagships Attikon and Apollon as welll as the creation of a competition section for Greek shorts.

The later represents an effort by the AIIF leadership to reinforce the event's national cinema profile following the introduction a couple of years ago of a Greek fiction feature films competition section. In doing so AIFF directly challenges such established national film events as the Short Films International Festival of the city of Drama (September 17 to 22) and the Thessaloniki International Film Festival (November 2-11) that have respectively nurtured short and fiction feature national fare over the years.

The ten titles-strong international competition section features no less than seven first films. Among them, Swiss Ursula Meier's Sister (L'enfant d'en haut), Chilean Marialy Rivas' Joven y Alocada, American Lucy Mulloy's Una Noche, Danish Mads Matthiesen's Teddy Bear, and Bulgarian Kristina Nikolova's Faith, Love and Whiskey.

A youth jury formed by young students of cinema schools aged 18-25 will award the Golden Athena to the competition's best film as well as the best director and best screenplay trophies. …

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