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‘Zero’ adds Golden Alexander in Greek fest

'Mirror,' 'Marriage' take multiple awards at Thessaloniki

THESSALONIKI — Jacques Rivette’s “Va Savoir” and Peter Cattaneo’s “Lucky Break” bookended the 42nd Intl. Thessaloniki Film Festival amid a strong showing of regional fare.

Some 154 features unspooled during the nine-day fest that wrapped Nov. 18 with attendance hitting 70,000, up 7% from last year. Fatmir Koci took the Golden Alexander plus a $32,000 prize in the Intl. Competition section for “Tirana Year Zero,” a journey through ravaged post-war Albania. The Silver Alexander Special Jury Award plus $20,000 went to Dover Kosashvili’s engaging and bittersweet comedy “Hatouna Mehuheret” (Late Marriage), which also earned Kosashvili Best Screenplay Award.

Awards for Director and Artistic Achievement went to Taiwan’s Hsiao Ya-Chuan for “Mirror Image” (Ming Dai Ahui Zhu). Mayu Ozawa (in Eiji Okuda’s “An Adolescent” (Shoujyo) and Ronit Elkabetz (“Hatouna Mehuheret”) shared actress honors.

Actor gong was split between Alexandru Papadopol, in Cristi Puiu’s “Stuff and Dough” (Marfa Si Banii), and Vuk Kostic in Srdan Golubovic’s “Absolute Hundred” (Apsolutnih Sto). Jury was headed by John Boorman, who was also the subject of a career retrospective.

Non-jury awards for Greek titles included the Special Award for Technical Distinction won by Vangelis Serdaris for “The Seventh Sun of Love”, Vangelis Seitanidis’ Original Screenplay for “Ghost of a Chance,” and the Greek Film Critics’ Greek Film Award which went jointly to Constantine Giannaris’ “One Day in August” and Yannis Fagras’ “Still Looking for Morphine.”

Audience Awards went to “Apsolutnih Sto” (Intl. Competition section), Lakis Papastathis’ “The Only Journey of His Life” (Greek section) and “Athanasios Christopoulos, a Forgotten Poet” by Stamatis Tsarouchas (Documentary).

“Marfa Si Banii” and Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s timely and poignant Afghanistan-shot film “Kandahar, the Sun Behind the Moon,” shared the FIPRESCI award, with a special mention going to “Word of Honor” (To Tama) by Andreas Pantzis.

Fest sidebars included Balkan and New Argentinian Cinema, a retrospective of local helmers Stavros Tornes and Dinos Demopoulos, and Orgasmic Cinema where enthusiastic crowds turned out for late-night programs of experimental and underground titles.

Thessaloniki’s reputation for adventurous programming continued in its New Horizons section with French, German, American independent, and international categories represented by helmers such as Catherine Breillat, Claire Denis, Larry Clark and Tsai Ming-Liang.

A photo exhibition by Jerry Schatzberg ran in conjunction with the festival where a screening of his 1970 debut feature “Puzzle of a Downfall Child” was attended by its star Faye Dunaway.

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