Indie ‘Portrait’ tops Thessaloniki

Russian pic takes Golden Alexander at Greek fest

Greek art has always thrived under adversity, according to the Thessaloniki Film Festival prexy, and the 1,700 screenings at the org’s market prove the point.

Dimitri Eipides told closing-night auds at the Olympian theater on Saturday that the 10-day fest may have witnessed the collapse of the Greek government but the packed cinemas for 151 international films offer reason for hope.

Producers and helmer-scribes clearly aren’t waiting for public funds to start their work.

“Law is nothing more than words,” Eipides cautioned, referring to promised state subsidies that have not come through — and are unlikely to given the country’s debt crisis and political shakeup.

Participants were upbeat nevertheless, cheering for Russian vengeance story “Twilight Portrait,” which took the Golden Alexander for film. Helmer-scribe-producer Angelina Nikonova’s pic — shot for much less than the $27,400 prize coin and produced without public funding by actress and co-scribe Olga Dihovichnaya — typified the indie ethic sweeping the region.

Czech pic “Eighty Letters,” a family memoir of separation by helmer-scribe Vaclav Kadrnka, won the Silver Alexander jury prize, worth $13,600, and Fipresci honors. It was also a debut made without public backing.

Alejandro Landes’ docu-fiction portrait of a paraplegic highjacker, “Porfirio,” a Spanish-Argentine-French-Uruguayan co-production starring the convicted felon himself, Porfirio Ramirez, took the Bronze Alexander for “originality and innovation.”

Helmer-scribe Mark Jackson scored director kudo for U.S. debut “Without,” while screenplay honors went to John McIlduff for U.K. road movie “Behold the Lamb.”

Greek thesp Stefania Goulioti took the actress kudo for her turn in social drama “J.A.C.E.,” and Wotan Wilke Moehring won best actor for German polemic on injustice “The Fire.”

Guy Nattiv’s “The Flood” won an artistic achievement kudo for its ensemble perfs and the audience prize, while helmer-scribe Yorgos Gikapeppas’ “The City of Children” scored the Fipresci nod for Greek pic.

Gala closed with Sean Durkin’s “Martha Marcy May Marlene” and a blowout party with latenight swing ensemble at fest’s Old Pier HQ.

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