Dimitri Eipides • Head of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival
"I don't want this festival to be snuffed out for any reason - it deserves to last longer"
by Domenico La Porta
- Cineuropa met up with Dimitri Eipides to talk about how he felt about the latest edition of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival and the gathering’s future prospects
Fifty-five years after its creation, the Thessaloniki International Film Festival is still the most important film event in south-east Europe. Despite the economic crisis and fresh budget cuts, director Dimitri Eipides and his team managed to pull off a very successful edition in terms of audience and industry attendance. A few hours before the awards ceremony, Cineuropa sat down with Eipides to discuss his feelings as the event wound down.
Cineuropa: Can you summarise where you stand at the moment with the festival?
Dimitri Eipides: The situation is difficult, as we all know; it’s the overall situation of the country because we have been going through an economic crisis for the past five years or so, and of course that affects the wellbeing of the festival and of culture in general. Cinema can quickly be put on the back burner in situations like these. Until last year, we had some European support from the NSRF and others, but not this year. So we had to depend on our own resources, which are minimal. I’m glad that we managed. I don’t want this festival to be snuffed out for any reason. It deserves to last longer, but it’s also particularly necessary in this country that is very much on the edge of Europe.
What is your personal feeling about the 55th edition of the gathering?
I think it was successful, considering its primary goal: its dedication to independent cinema. We don’t show any Hollywood films. We exist with a total absence of the star system, big Hollywood productions and so on. It wasn’t the case in past years, but I think that was an aberration of sorts because a film festival of this kind should have a corresponding level of quality that fuels and influences what the Greek film industry produces. That should be organised somehow, otherwise it becomes a kind of useless funfair lasting for a week or ten days, and then wraps up without leaving an impact on the Greek filmmakers. I want this to be a representation of global independent cinema, and that’s what it is. We managed to present first and second features by almost unknown directors, and they are quite popular here. We’ve had full houses throughout the festival. It is a good sign. It reminds the big entertainment industry of the value of human experience and how it fits the needs of theatre-goers.
What is the next challenge in the pipeline?
It’s too soon to make plans, although I am making plans for the documentary film festival coming up in March, which we also organise, and that is also my dearest baby, because it’s doing very well. Right now, all my attention is focused on that, and hopefully it will be another successful edition.
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