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‘Ties’ cinches Thessaloniki kudos

South Korean pic takes top prize

THESSALONIKI, Greece — Onscreen the relationships may be dysfunctional, but South Korean pic “Family Ties” was convivially received at the 47th Thessaloniki Film Festival, taking home the Golden Alexander.

Fest ran Nov. 17-26.

Besides picking up top prize, worth more than $48,000, Kim Tae-yong’s ensemble piece also aced the audience award and received honors for screenplay (shared with Brazil’s “Suely in the Sky”) and group recognition for the four lead actresses.

Fest topper Despina Mouzaki’s second year proved chock-a-block with the sidebars, big-name guests and high-profile cultural events that marked her debut in the director’s seat.

In an example of the full-treatment approach, a tribute to Wim Wenders was accompanied not only by a master class — in conjunction with Walter Salles — but also a photography exhibition of Wenders’ work together with that of his wife Donata.

Other master classes were offered by Lili Taylor, Costa Gavras and Chen Kaige, among others. Czech surrealist helmer Jan Svankmajer’s work was the subject of a retrospective and a gallery show, as were the ravishing cinemascope photographs of Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

Awards in the international competition included the Silver Alexander for “On a Friday Afternoon” (Iran), worth $29,000, while the director prize went to Slawomir Fabicki for “Retrieval” (Poland), whose star, Antoni Pawlicki, received kudos for actor.

In the Greek Films section, Dimitris Koutsiambassakos’ “The Guardian’s Son” was the crowd-pleaser, receiving the audience award as well as State Cinema Awards totaling $77,000.

But it was Greek-German co-production “Eduart” that nabbed the lion’s share of prizes, including film, director (Angeliki Antoniou) and screenplay, for a total take-home of $177,300. Pic also impressed the Fipresci jury members, who gave it their nod for Greek film. The charming “Sugartown: The Bridegrooms” received the State Cinema’s docu prize.

Industry activity continued to buzz, if quietly. Last year’s fest featured the first edition of Mediterranean/Balkan co-production forum Crossroads, this year encompassing 18 titles from countries as varied as Afghanistan and Spain.

Yesim Ustaoglu’s project “Pandora’s Box” (Turkey) received the event’s first award of $13,000.

Popular sidebars included a tribute to Brazilian cinema and a selection of Chinese pics, co-curated by Variety‘s Derek Elley, which highlighted the country’s multidimensional industry in ways not often seen solely on export screens.

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