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THESSALONIKI 2020

Elise Jalladeau, Orestis Andreadakis • General director and artistic director, Thessaloniki International Film Festival

“Cinema, no matter what – festival, no matter what”

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- We talked to Elise Jalladeau and Orestis Andreadakis, general director and artistic director of the Thessaloniki IFF, about the upcoming online edition, unfolding from 5-15 November

Elise Jalladeau, Orestis Andreadakis • General director and artistic director, Thessaloniki International Film Festival
(© Aris Rammos)

The 61st Thessaloniki International Film Festival is being forced to run online from 5-15 November, due to the recent developments related to the pandemic (read the news). We had a chance to talk with Elise Jalladeau, the general director of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, and Orestis Andreadakis, the event’s artistic director, about the latest updates and what viewers can expect from the leading Greek gathering this year.

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Cineuropa: Which is the focus of the 61st Thessaloniki IFF’s selection, and what is new in this edition?
Elise Jalladeau and Orestis Andreadakis: The concept behind this year’s edition is “Intimacy, a modern tyranny”. After the outbreak of the pandemic, we were inspired by the prophetic book “The Fall of Public Man” by Richard Sennett, where the final chapter is titled “The tyrannies of intimacy”. We realised that people who stayed at home tended to build a fictitious intimacy that isolated them from the public sphere. We wanted to make visible the request for the end of individual privacy and for the return to participation in the community, in res publica. After the second wave of the pandemic, we feel that these issues are more important than ever. We chose the 12 films of the International Competition section inspired by these ideas. We have also invited young Greek artists to create original artworks for the films of this section. During the pandemic, we consumed art privately. Now, it is imperative to bring back modern art into the public space. The artworks will be printed in multiple copies and placed in open spaces in Thessaloniki. Thus, they will converse with the urban landscape, while the audience will have the opportunity to enjoy them.

The festival is forced to move online. What are your expectations following this decision?
The motto of this year’s festival is “Cinema, no matter what – Festival, no matter what”. In March, the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival was the first European festival to move online. Everything is different now. We face situations that question the identity, the DNA of festivals. With the generous assistance of the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports, we support directors, producers, cinemas, distributors, when the usual tools for this are vanishing. Faced with the second wave of the pandemic, we decided to move the 61st TIFF online from November 5 - 15. We don’t prefer the online version, but we do not want to let the virus impose its own rules. Viewers in Greece will have the opportunity to watch more than 170 films. We want to offer people quality cinema and hope, and we want to stand by Greek cinema, which is at its best.

You also announced some initiatives that aim to further support the local industry in the pandemic era. Could you tell us more about them?
As a public organisation under the umbrella of the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports, we have always actively supported the local industry. Since the pandemic, this support has become vital, which is why we have multiplied the initiatives to help Greek cinema. TIFF continues its successful program Meet the Future and, for the first time, a major international film festival focuses on directors of photography, introducing eight up-and-coming professionals working in Greek cinema, who will present their work to film professionals from all over the world. We increased the number of Greek projects in the Crossroads Co-Production Forum. We also present Agora Lab, a development workshop for Greek projects, and the Thessaloniki Locarno Industry Academy International 2020 is dedicated to film professionals living in Greece. We also have two new awards for Greek projects and we are strengthening our collaboration with the Drama International Short Film Festival.

Regarding Agora, which is also running entirely online, how does your experience at the documentary festival help you organise it, and what will be the main changes?
The Agora Doc Market was the first to go online in March. Our experience was unique, and we shared it with other festivals that went online afterwards. Once again, the situation is not ideal. Agora is a Greek word, meaning a place where people gather and exchange opinions. However, under these circumstances, we will do it in the best way possible, we will bring together the filmmakers, the projects, we will find the best way to support films, hoping that we will soon enjoy them together in cinemas, without distances.

How much all the other initiatives under the Thessaloniki IFF’s umbrella were affected in this late period?
Although cinemas closed from March until summer, TIFF organised open-air screenings during the summer on the wonderful terrace of the Thessaloniki Concert Hall. Now we have to close theatres again. However, there is no point in crying over spilt milk. Next summer, we plan to organise a week of screenings with films from the 61st TIFF, with an emphasis on Greek cinema. At the same time, we are already planning different scenarios for the 23rd Thessaloniki Documentary Festival in March 2021.

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