23rd Athens International Film Festival: The Closing Ceremony and the Film Awards!

The Closing Ceremony of the 23rd Athens International Film Festival took place on Saturday the 30th September at IDEAL cinema, which was packed. Over the course of ten days the Festival filled cinemas in Athens with a record number of sold-out films and more than 70,000 viewers!

The ceremony was presented by Dimitra Argyraki and Panos Gkenas, members of the Festival while the event was translated simultaneously in English by Eirini Sarli-Theofylahtopoulou and in the Greek Sign Language by Theodora Tsapoiti.

Initially, the presenters offered their heartfelt thanks, on behalf of the festival, to the DANAOS, ODEON, and IDEAL cinemas as well as the Onassis Cultural Centre (where the tribute “Nothing About Us Without Us” took place in collaboration with the Movement of Artists with Disabilities as well screenings as part of the Anymasyros festival), the Athens Concert Hall and the function room of the Friends of Music Society which hosted the Festival's Press Conference and side events. Finally, thanks were given to Aegean Omiros College for accommodating the press office.

Later on they referred to the special guests of this year's Festival organisation who were more than thirty and among who were actress and director Vanessa Redgrave, director Lynne Ramsay, director Robin Campillo, actor Anraud Valois, actress Sandrine Dumas, Mogwai frontman Stuart Braithwaite, actress Daniela Vega as well as the director duo of Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza. Special thanks were given to hotels Airotel Alexandros, Grande Bretagne and Radisson Blue Park who helped accommodate the guests as well as Papadakis restaurant and TGI FRIDAYS, who saw to the guests' catering.

The Festival also thanked Jameson, their events supporter, for offering drinks at all of the Festival's parties as well as BEAT for helping guests and audience members  with their transportation needs. They also thanked Viva and Viva Wallet, Zolotas, the Greek Film Centre, the Hellenic Film Academy, the French Institute of Greece, the British Council, The Goethe Institute, the Embassy of Israel as well as the Embassy of Ireland.

With great pleasure we also looked upon our collaboration with the International Animation Festival +Agora - Animasyros as well as the Athens Ethnographic Film Festival – Ethnofest while special mention was made to the collaboration with the Movement of Artists with Disabilities for co-organising our tribute “Nothing About Us Without Us” and for their support of out efforts to make Festival spaces accessible.

This section is made possible through the operational programme “Human Resources Development, Education and Lifelong Learning” and is co-funded by the European Social Fund and national sources. Warm thanks were given to Attiki Odos and the Main Supporter of the Festival, COSMOTE TV.

It was noted that the 23rd Athens International Film Festival is affiliated with the PEP Attiki 2014 – 2020 and is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

The ceremony continued with the awards for the Greek Short Films Competition Section, The Music & Film Competition and the International Film Competition of the 23rd Athens International Film Festival.

Christos Masalas for “Copa Loca​"

 Efthymis Kosemund Sanidis for “Unbuilt Lights"

Despoina Kourti was awarded Best Screenplay for the film “Ourania"

Actress Maria Skoulla collected the Jury''s Special Mention award on behalf of Sofia Georgovasili for her film “Preparation”​

Manolis Mavromatakis received the Best Male Actor award for the film “Cowboy” by Giannis Haritidis 

Elena Mavridou won the Best Female Actor award for Elina Fessa's “Rails”

The jury of the International Competition: (from left) Giona A. Nazzaro, Doris Kuhn, Alex Ritman, Jasmin Basic and Kerem Ayam​

The Jury of the Film & Music Competition: (from left) Sergi Steegmann, Uli Schüppel, Nalyssa Green, Tim Stevens and Andy McCluskey​
The Awards

Chloé Zhao won the Golden Athena for her film "The Rider"​

Samuel Maoz sent a thank you video message for receiving the City of Athens Best Director award for "Foxtrot"

Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza with the Best Screenplay award for "Sicilian Ghost Story"

Vladimir de Fontenay with the Audience Award sponsored by PopCode powered by Oneman for the film "Mobile Homes"
Catherine Gund (on video) and Daresha Kyi won the Golden Athena Music & Film award for "Chavela"

The Special Jury Prize went to Paul Fegan for the film "Where You're Meant to Be"

Director Giorgos Zois presents the film "8th Continent"

A screening of “8th Continent” by Giorgos Zois followed the award ceremony. On a mountain on Lesbos there is an abandoned landfill with two large craters. The craters are overflowing with life jackets that wash up on land. A worker is the sole resident of this forsaken place which resembles an alien planet.

The movie was filmed in a space of three days last summer by a small crew on an abandoned landfill which is used as a life jacket cemetery in Molyvos on Lesbos. Actor Pavlos Iordanopoulos portrays a worker who works at the landfill and becomes one with this otherworldly landscape. The film sits on the line between fiction and documentary by creating its own special world: an 8th Continent.

Next came the screening of Aki Kaurismäki's new film “The Other Side of Hope” which  was awarded the  Silver Berlin Bear Best Director award at the Berlin International Film Festival. The film was screened courtesy of AMA Films. A Syrian immigrant escapes from the refugee accommodation centre where he is being held. A Finnish merchant leaves his old life behind to open a restaurant. Two men, who have both left their homes for different reasons, meet and it changes their lives forever. Aki Kaurismäki sees “The Other Side of Hope” as he euphorically broaches a hot political matter and succeeds in reminding us of such self-evident values as solidarity, companionship and love between people.

The night ended in a party mood with the established closing party which took place at ROMANTSO with a DJ set by Giorgos Geranios and Markos Frangos.  We will meet again at next year's Athens International Film Festival!