Thessaloniki festival ups prizes

Fewer Greek films in lineup due to protest

MOSCOW — The Thessaloniki Film Festival opens next week with a bigger prize purse and a screening schedule that includes fewer local Greek films because of an ongoing dispute within the Greek film community.

The value of the festival’s two top awards — the Golden and Silver Alexanders — have been upped from E37,000 ($55,000) to $59,000 and from $33,000 to $37,000 respectively, the festival said Wednesday.

Although a large group of Greek directors and producers are boycotting the festival’s Greek State Cinema Awards and Greek Panorama section, there are still two local films — the usual number — competing in the previously announced international competition program: “Dancing on Ice,” directed by Stavros Ioannou, and “Small Revolts,” by Kyriakos Katzourakis.

Internationally acclaimed Greek director Theo Angelopoulos heads an international jury that includes Danish festival consultant Lissy Belaiche, Serbian actress Mirjana Karanovic, Mexican production designer Eugenio Caballero, Philippines director Lav Diaz, Hungarian director Gyorgi Palfi and American director Amos Poe.

The dispute within the Greek film community centers on a controversy over the existing film law, introduced 20 years ago, which many want to be updated to include tax incentives plus stronger provisions for widely flouted rules on TV stations investing 1.5% of revenue in production and the failure to pass on the full amount of a cinema ticket sales levy to public funding for film.

It means that there are fewer Greek films screening across the festival programs, although eight new features — including the two in competition — will be presented in the Greek Special Screenings. A further eight films shot on digital cameras will be showcased in the DigitalWave section, now in its fourth year.

The festival opens Nov. 13 with a screening of German director Fatih Akin’s “Soul Kitchen.” It closes Nov. 22 with French director Alain Resnais’ “Wild Grass.”

Guests who have confirmed attendance include German director Werner Herzog, Serbia’s Goran Paskaljevic, British producer Jeremy Thomas and British-born actress and musician Jane Birkin.

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