62nd Thessaloniki International Film Festival Kicks Off

The 62nd Thessaloniki International Film Festival (TIFF), one of the oldest film festivals worldwide and one of the leading film events in Southeast Europe, has officially kicked off; taking place from the 4th through to the 14th of November, 2021.

Screening close to 200 films in selected movie theatres across Thessaloniki, there is also a  digital platform, where 144 titles will be featured. The Festival opened last night with Audrey Diwan’s Golden Lion winner, Happening and the popular event will close its curtains with another French title, Paris, 13th District by Jacques Audiard.

The TIFF focuses on independent cinema and emerging filmmakers from around the world- serving as an essential platform for film professionals from Greece and Southeast Europe. The event normally attracts an audience of more than 80,000; including hundreds of Greek and foreign guests, plus well-known artists, directors, producers and  talented crew from the international film scene. 

According to Festival Director Orestis Andreadakis, this year, films from all over the world will be screened at the famous halls of Olympion at the central Aristotelous Square, at Warehouse 1 close to the port, as well as at the Makedonikon Cinema.

Insights Greece - 62nd Thessaloniki International Film Festival Kicks Off
Makedonikon Cinema in Thessaloniki

For the first time, TIFF will host three competition sections: International Competition (a program with films from across the Globe), Meet the Neighbors Competition (with first or second features from Greece’s extended “neighborhood”), and Film Forward Competition section (with films that go beyond the conventions of film genres).

The 14 films selected in the international competition, three of which are Greek, are feature debuts or sophomore films and will be setting their sights on the Golden Alexander. They are Holy Emy by Araceli Lemos, Moon, 66 Questions by Jacqueline Lentzou, and Pack of Sheep by Dimitris Kanellopoulos.

Another three Greek films participate in the Meet the Neighbors competition section: .dog by Yianna Americanou, 18 by Vassilis Douvlis, and The Man with the Answers by Stelios Kammitsis. In addition, another triplet of Greek films is found in the “Film Forward” competition section: Magnetic Fields by Giorgos Goussis, ORFEAS2021 directed by the performance art duo FYTA and The Timekeepers of Eternity by Aristotelis Maragkos.

Moreover, the 62nd TIFF is screening eight masterpieces of Greek cinema, within the framework of the initiative “Motherland, I See You: The 20th Century of Greek Cinema”, held by the Hellenic Film Academy, under the auspices of the “Greece 2021” Committee, and sponsored by the National Centre of Audiovisual Media and Communication (grand sponsor), the Greek Film Centre, Athens Epidaurus Festival and Thessaloniki Film Festival, with the support of the Greek Film Archive and Finos Film. “Motherland, I See You: The 20th Century of Greek Cinema” is an initiative dedicated to salvaging, digitalizing, screening, and studying films from the diverse heritage of 20th-century Greek cinema. 

The majority of the program’s Greek films will also be available online, through the Festival’s platform.

Organisers have also made note that this annual celebration of the Cinema will take place safely, observing all the health protocols, as only those who have a vaccination certificate or intellect will be able to enter the rooms.

For the full program head to Thessaloniki International Film Festival 

Images Courtesy of TIFF

Travel Around Greece With These 10 Films

While many of us wait to head back to the Aegean, we have rounded up ten of our favourite films set in Greece, that are destined to bring you a step closer to the beautiful Greek sea and land! 

Boy on a Dolphin (1957)

This was the first Hollywood movie shot in Greece. Phaedra, played by legendary actress Sophia Loren, is a poor Greek sponge diver on the island of Hydra. She works from her boyfriend Rhif’s (Jorge Mistral) boat, he is an immigrant from Albania. She accidentally finds an ancient Greek statue of a boy riding a dolphin on the bottom of the Aegean Sea. This statue brings pride to the city of Hydra and has been lost for around 2000 years.

Location scenes: Greek Saronic Islands- mostly in Hydra and also in Poros, Athens, Rhodes, Delos, and Meteora

The Guns of Navarone (1961)

This is a 1961 British-American epic adventure war film, which was inspired by the Battle of Leros- during the Dodecanese Campaign of World War II. The film stars legendary actors Gregory Peck, David Niven, and Anthony Quinn. The book and the film share the same basic plot: the efforts of an Allied commando unit are set to destroy a seemingly impregnable German fortress that threatens Allied naval ships in the Aegean Sea. 

Location scenes: Rhodes island

Insights Greece - Travel Around Greece With These 10 Films

Zorba the Greek (1964) 

This famous 1964 Greek-American film was written, produced, edited, and directed by Greek Cypriot Michael Cacoyannis and stars Anthony Quinn as the titular character. Basil, half English, half Greek, meets Alexis Zorba, a Greek man, while they are both waiting at the port of Piraeus, to board a ship for Crete, where Basil’s family owns land, and where Basil intends to reopen a mine. Once in Crete, an unlikely friendship between Basil and Alexis leaves the wealthy, educated, English gentleman, having second thoughts as to if education and a refined life are the be-all and end-all. 

Location scenes: Crete, mainly in Chania

For Your Eyes Only (1981)

This famous spy film was the twelfth in the James Bond series produced by Eon Productions, and the fifth to star Roger Moore as MI6 agent James Bond. Deep into the Roger Moore era, this James Bond episode was much enhanced by its location shooting on Corfu. There’s a plane-eye-view to start, then scenes scattered around the island. In Corfu Town, Bond falls for beautiful  Melina, who is out to get revenge for the murder of her parents.

Location scenes: Corfu, Meteora, Achilleion

Insights Greece - Travel Around Greece With These 10 Films

Shirley Valentine (1989)

The main character is a fed-up, 42-year-old English housewife who is completely bored with every aspect of her life and jumps at the chance of a holiday to Greece. When her friend drops out of the trip, Shirley travels to Mykonos alone, and here begins a passionate love affair with Greek waiter; Costas, and it becomes the beginning of Shirley’s life in Greece.

Location scenes: Mykonos

Insights Greece - Travel Around Greece With These 10 Films

The Big Blue (1988)

This cult film is a heavily fictionalised story of two friends, Enzio Maiorca (Jean Reno) and Jaques Mayol (Jean-Marc Barr) both free divers, growing up in Greece in the 1960s until their deaths in the 1980s. The friends travel through France, Italy, and Peru, but the key locations here are in Greece. Jacques grows up on Ios, at Manganari and there are many scenes set in Amorgos. 

Location scenes: Amorgos, Ios

Insights Greece - Travel Around Greece With These 10 Films

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001) 

The main characters are Antonio Corelli (Nicholas Cage), an Italian army captain, and Pelagia (Penelope Cruz), the daughter of the local physician. During this war/romance film, Corelli is the leader of the Italian invasion force that controls the Greek island of Kefalonia. Billeted with the local doctor he falls in love with his daughter Pelagia, even though she is engaged to resistance fighter Mandras. Slowly, his feelings are returned but their life and love are disrupted when the Italians surrender to the Allies. 

Location scenes: Kefalonia

MAMMA MIA! (2008)

This famous musical is based on the songs of pop group ABBA and the film features an ensemble cast, including Christine Baranski, Pierce Brosnan, Dominic Cooper, Colin Firth, Amanda Seyfried, Stellan Skarsgård, Meryl Streep, and Julie Walters. The plot follows a young bride-to-be who invites three men to her upcoming wedding, each one with the possibility of being her father.

Location scenes: Skopelos, Pelion, Damouchari

Never on a Sunday (1960)

This is a 1960 Greek black-and-white, romantic comedy film that tells the story of Ilya, a self-employed, free-spirited prostitute who lives in the port of Piraeus in Athens, and Homer, an American tourist and classical scholar who is enamored of all things Greek. Starring Greece’s cherished actress Melina Mercouri and Jules Dassin, this movie gently submerges the viewer into Greek culture, including dance, music, and language (through the use of subtitles).

Location scenes: Athens

Insights Greece - Travel Around Greece With These 10 Films

Summer Lovers (1982)

An American romantic comedy film written and directed by Randal Kleiser, it stars Peter Gallagher, Daryl Hannah, and Valerie Quennessen. It was filmed on location in the Cyclades, mainly on the island of Santorini, and follows the American characters Michael Pappas and Cathy Featherstone, a young couple from Connecticut, who have just graduated from college and spend their entire summer on the island of Santorini.

Location scenes: Santorini, Crete, Delos, and Mykonos