58th TIFF: Closing Ceremony

After welcoming the audience, Andreas Konstantinou said: “This great, international cinematic event is coming to an end. In a few minutes, ten days full of images, sounds, emotions and ideas will be history”. He thanked the festival sponsors and made special mention to the TIFF’s industry section, Agora, which this year hosted 25 outstanding new film projects, as well as 260 films from all over the world in Film Market, also noting that as part of Agora, 450 meetings took place between film industry professionals, while this section granted over 250,000€ in cash prizes and services.

Immediately afterwards, the awarding ceremony of the 58th TIFF began. The Fischer Audience Awards, that mirror TIFF audience’s preferences, were the first to be bestowed. Mrs Dionysia Simatou, Fischer Senior Brand manager from Athenian Brewery, who bestowed the awards, insisted on the fact that this year follows the 10-year anniversary of collaboration between Fischer and TIFF, and as a following year, it may look a bit nostalgic and uneasy. “What stays behind after anniversaries, though, is the essence of things. That’s what we celebrate each year, that’s what we celebrate this year with all of you showcasing talents through the TIFF competition sections. During the event, we watched excellent films that reminded us that passion and love for creation can overcome any obstacle, mutatis mutandis. All participations deserve a big bravo for their effort and the excellent outcome”, she added. As she noted, Fischer Audience Awards have become an institution which the audience embraces and supports in TIFF; she thanked TIFF’s contributors, volunteers and the public for the unique experience.

The Fischer Audience Award for a film in the Greek Film section (premiere) – Michael Cacoyannis Award was bestowed to the film Timeless Stories, directed by Vasilis Raisis. The prize was received by Mr Antonis Kartalis from the production team, who stressed that all contributors to the film, who were over 400, worked on a voluntary basis, having a common baseline: having been students at Moraitis School, where the film’s plot partly unfolds.

The Fischer Audience Award for a film in the International Competition section was bestowed to the film Lucky directed by John Carroll Lynch. The prize was received by the filmmaker, who thanked the audience and said it is a great honor to be granted this award, as it shows the film’s impact to those it was meant for. “The film is dedicated to Harry Dean Stanton, one of the greatest actors of his generation. It was our attempt to pay tribute to his mastery in living the moment, in existing”, the director noted.  

The Fischer Audience Award for a film in the Balkan Survey section was bestowed to the film Secret Ingredient by Gjorce Stavreski. The director expressed joy and emotion, stressing the similarities between people of his country and the Greek people, and thanking the audience for filling the theatres in is film’s screenings.

Finally, the Fischer Audience Award for a film in Open Horizons section was bestowed to the film Insyriated directed by Philippe van Leeuw, who expressed his joy and thanked the TIFF and the audience in a video message.

The Festival hosted again this year the Youth Jury Awards, selected by students in the Universities of Thessaloniki and bestowed to films that participated in the Greek Film Festival 2017 section (premiere). The jury, comprised by students in AUTH and University of Macedonia Stefanos Aggelis, Kalliopi Aletra, Anastassis Dallis, Yorgos Dimoglou and Stefania Tsivelekidou, is an educational initiative of AUTH School of Film Studies, curated by Despina Mouzaki, associate professor and president of this school. Mrs Aletra and Mr Dimoglou bestowed the awards. 

The Special Youth Jury Award was bestowed to the film Do It Yourself by Dimitris Tsilifonis “for its dynamic, its liveliness and its comical nature”. Receiving the prize, the film’s director of photography Angelos Papadopoulos said he was very happy for being awarded and noted, among others, that for most contributors, this is their first feature film. Consequently, the Youth Jury bestowed the Best Feature Film Award to the film Polyxeni by Dora Masklavanou, “a touching story with historic background that deeply moved our souls through the characters and the actors’ performances”. Receiving the award, the director characterized it as very important, since -as she said among others- “I am granted this prize by a group of young people, on behalf of a girl that managed to live only her youth”.

Consequently, the Greek Film Critics Association (PEKK) Award for the best Greek film in the 58th TIFF was bestowed to the film Rosemarie by Adonis Florides. The award was bestowed on behalf of PEKK by Dimosthenis Xifilinos, noting that the film “combines social insight with expressive economy, along with the play with film genres and style swaps. The showdown between reality and its depiction supports the above. However, the title itself reminds or implies that the demon may not confine itself exclusively in the transatlantic Western mythology; it can reach the Mediterranean, our neighborhood, the appartment next to ours, it may live with us, locate inside us”. In the video message he sent, the director warmly thanked for the distinction, and dedicated the award to his family. 

In this year’s event, ERT S.A. bestowed two “New Cinema” awards, affirming the willingness to support directors who seek and experiment on new cinematic forms. The awards were bestowed to two Greek films which premiered in this year’s TIFF and were accompanied by cash prizes amounting in 3,000 and 2,000 euros respectively. The jury, comprised by Maria Koufopoulou, Soultana  Hadjigeorgiou, Yorgos Varelas, Dimitris Karathanasis and Telemachos Koemtzopoulos, bestowed the first “New Cinema” award to the film Thorn directed by Gabriel Tzafka. The award was bestowed by ERT CEO Vassilis Kostopoulos. Receiving the prize, Gabriel Tzafka thanked ERT for the support and stressed, among others, that it is a major pillar of his development as an artist. The second “New Cinema” award was bestowed to the film Too Much Clouding Over My Head by Vassilis Christofilakis, who said that he was thrilled to receive it, as he was not expecting it at all, and warmly thanked all contributors of his film. 

It was the turn of the “Human Values” award, bestowed each year by the Hellenic Parliament TV Channel (Vouli TV Channel) to a film in the International Competition section. This year’s jury comprised by Kostas Dimos, Aris Fatouros and Vassilis Douvlis, who selected the film Closeness by Kantemir Balagov. The MP Thessaloniki Triantafyllos Mitafidis, who announced and bestowed the award, congratulated on behalf of the President of the Hellenic Parliament Nikos Voutsis and added: “The Hellenic Parliament maintains for the 13th year in a row its excellent collaboration with the Thessaloniki International Film Festival. This year, Vouli TV Channel grants an award to a strong family and social drama recounting with simplicity and boldness the story of the rebellious daughter of a Jewish family who, in 1998 Russia, an era of social and political instability, with nationalistic and religious conflicts, violence and racism prevailing, she dares to challenge the oppressive family and social structures and revolt, demanding her emancipation and freedom. On occasion of the upcoming anniversary of November 17, Mr Mitafidis dedicated the award to the memory of TIFF’s pioneer Pavlos Zannas, for whom he noted, among others, that he was arrested in 1968 in Thessaloniki for actively taking part in the anti-dictatorial struggle group Democratic Defense, convicted in 10.5 years imprisonment and set free in early 1972.

Consequently, the Greek Film Centre bestowed the new award (5,000 euros) to a Greek debut film that has its premiere in the 58th TIFF. The jury comprised of Gyda Myklebust, head of New Nordic Films, Laëtitia Kulyk, audiovisual attaché at the Institut Français of Greece, and Michalis Konstantatos, film director. The award was bestowed by the director of the Greek Film Centre’s promotion and distribution unit Kostas Aivaliotis and Michalis Konstantatos, who granted the prize to the film Too Much Info Clouding Over my Head by Vassilis Christofilakis, for “the shiny details, the special universe, the integrity, honesty and simplicity of his film”. The director, taking once more the stage of Olympion, received his prize with great joy and warmly thanked for the distinction.

Consequently, the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) jury, consisting of Ola Salwa (President, Poland), Thomas Abeltshauser (Germany) and Theodor Giachoustidis (Greece), announced its awards. First, Mrs Salva announced the jury’s special mention to the film Winter Brothers by Hlynur Pálmason, “a beautiful, full-bodied and immersive cinematic experience, and giving a proof that passion, commitment and artistic freedom  are the most important ingredients in filmmaking”, according to the jury’s rationale. The director received his prize in obvious excitement, and thanked all his partners and contributors to the film. The FIPRESCI award for a film in the International Competition section was bestowed to the film No Date, No Signature by Vahid Jalilvand for “the subtle and nuanced portrayal of the class conflict in contemporary Iran and its visually striking and superbly acted moral drama of guilt, responsibility and honour”. Then, Theodor Giachoustidis bestowed the FIPRESCI award for a film in the Greek Film Festival 2017 section (premiere) to the film Too Much Info Clouding Over my Head by Vassilis Christofilakis, for  “the subtle and nuanced portrayal of the class conflict in contemporary Iran and its visually striking and superbly acted moral drama of guilt, responsibility and honour”. The director received the award saying that this was one of the best evenings in his life.

Proceeding to the official TIFF awards, the first to be bestowed were the new Competition section with VR/Virtual Reality films, which is inaugurated for the first time in Greece and the Balkans and is “a new cinematic experience that blurs the lines between watching a film and being present in the frame”, as the event’s presenter Andreas Konstantinou noted. The jury of the VR Films Competition section comprised of Emma Boa (project manager, Edinburgh Film Festival, UK), Aliki Tsirliagou (art historian, director of Nitra Gallery, Greece) and Aris Dimokidis (Editor-in-chief of website Lifo.gr, Greece).  The awards were bestowed by Aliki Tsirliagou and Aris Dimokidis, presenting first of all Special Mention to the film Notes on Blindness by Peter Middleton and James Spinney, “beautifully rendered with strong, effective visuals, this is a sensitive and impactful film that exemplifies the use of VR as a tool to break down barriers, and provide a glimmer of understanding of the "emotional experience of blindness", according to the jury’s rationale. The VR section Best Film award, with a cash prize of 3,000 euros -sponsored by the Film Centre Serbia- was bestowed to the film Bloodless by Gina Kim, “a fearless and uncompromising work, making extraordinary use of VR to create a fully immersive experience tackling a political situation, an innovative, original and starkly atmospheric film”.

Finally, the International Jury of the International Competition section of the 58th Thessaloniki International Film Festival bestowed their awards. The four out of five jury members that came on stage were: the actress Maria Nafpliotou (Greece), the actor, scriptwriter and director Payman Maadi (Iran-USA), the artistic director of Karlovy Vary IFF Karel Och (Czech Republic), and the sound designer Bruno Tarrière (France). The film director, scriptwriter and producer Annemarie Jacir, the fifth jury member, had departed from Thessaloniki a few hours before the ceremony. 

Karel Och announced the International Jury’s first Special Mention, which was awarded to the actor Harry Dean Stanton and “his last smile in the film Lucky by John Carroll Lynch”, as he said. The director received the award and said among others for Stanton, his protagonist: “There is no man in the world who loves cinema and has not grown up watching his films. My aim is to carry this smile to the festivals all over the world”.

The second special mention of the jury was awarded for the sound of the film Winter Brothers by Hlynur Pálmason. Receiving the prize, the director said he loves everything that has to do with sound in a film, and added that he will contact his film’s sound designer to tell him the news.

The Best Screenplay Award was bestowed to Gilles Coulier and Tom Dupont for the screenplay of the film Cargo directed by Gilles Coulier. The award was bestowed by Payman Maadi and in the video that followed the director thanked TIFF for the great honor, wishing a lovely evening to everyone.

Consequently, Maria Nafpliotou bestowed the Best Actress Award to Darya Zhovner for her performance in the film Closeness by Kantemir Balagov. Immediately afterwards, she bestowed the Best Actor Award to Reine Brynolfsson, the protagonist of the film Ravens by Jens Assur.

The Special Jury Award for Best Director - Bronze Alexander was bestowed by Bruno Tarrière to Hlynur Pálmason and his film Winter Brothers. The director thanked the audience once more, and said this award was a great honor made by TIFF. 

The Special Jury Award - Silver Alexander was bestowed to the film Bedoune Tarikh, Bedoune Emza (No Date, No Signature) by Vahid Jalilvand (Iran). Payman Maadi bestowed the award. In a video message to TIFF audience, the Iranian film director noted among others that he is particularly happy for being awarded this prize in Greece, the country of Aristotles that he loves so much, and to whom theatre and cinema owe so much.

Finally, Karel Och warmly thanked the TIFF’s contributors and bestowed the Best Full-length Feature Film Award - Golden Alexander “Theo Angelopoulos” to the film Korparna (Ravens) by Jens Assur. It is the famous Sweden photographer Jens Assur’s film debut, a dramatic, agonized elegy on family burdens and the power of the inevitable, which takes place in Swedish countrysides in the 70s.

After the awarding ceremony, the evening ended with the screening, in Greek premiere, of the film The Party by Sally Potter, a hilarious black chamber comedy with an impressive cast including Patricia Clarkson, Bruno Ganz, Cillian Murphy and Timothy Spall. In her video message, the director said that she has excellent memories from Thessaloniki, back from the year when she presented her film Orlando and thanked TIFF for giving her the opportunity to be there, even in spirit. “My film is a comedy surrounded by a tragedy. It talks about serious political and social issues, as seen through human relationships. Heroes confront their real fears, and the challenges posed by their deepest beliefs and desires. I try to depict all these through laughter, which is so healing and so entertaining”, Sally Potter noted.  

Throughout the ceremony, sign language interpreting was provided. 

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