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FESTIVALS Greece

Ajami tops Thessaloniki, Hellenic Film Academy emerges

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Presented by Werner Herzog, the Golden Alexander award of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival was last night added to the list of prizes shining on the Israeli/German co-production Ajami [+see also:
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, a dramatic look at the titular neighborhood in Jaffa, directed by Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani.

The duo shared Thessaloniki’s Best Screenplay prize with Tudor Voican, writer of Calin Peter Netzer’s German/Romanian co-production Medal Of Honor [+see also:
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, which also picked up the Silver Alexander - Special Jury Award and Best Actor nod for Victor Rebengiuc’s performance as a 75-year-old Romanian who accidentally receives a WWII medal.

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Medal of Honor further won the FIPRESCI Prize for the international competition, while the FIPRESCI jury chose Periklis Hoursoglou’s The Building Manager as their pick from the Greek Films section. Ruth Nirere won Best Actress for The Day God Walked Away (France/Belgium) and Rigoberto Perezcano Best Director for Norteado [+see also:
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(Spain/Mexico).

Thessaloniki celebrated its jubilee edition with but a fraction of the year’s local films, due to the boycott of the FoG group (see news). Little more than 24 hours after the fest wrapped, FoG made an announcement that may change the face of Greek cinema forever: the inauguration of the Hellenic Filmmakers Academy.

With an initial 108 members from throughout the entire film industry (including technicians and critics), the Academy will expand its ranks by mid-January, when it is expected to announce nominees up for awards that will be handed out in a fashion reminiscent of the Oscars.

The Academy claims its members will also select the Greek submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nomination – a privilege so far reserved for the film that tops the State Awards, presented each year by a committee selected by the Ministry of Culture.

Though the Ministry of Culture has yet to make any comment, it is undoubtedly clear that the Academy will be seeing nothing but green lights from them as it reforms the local industry.

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