Athens International Film Festival

The Opening Ceremony of the 25th Athens International Film Festival

On Wednesday the 18th September the opening ceremony of the 25th Athens International Film Festival took place in a celebratory atmosphere at the PALLAS Theatre in the attendance of the festival’s Artistic Director, Loukas Katsikas and the Mayor of Athens, Kostas Bakoyannis.


The ceremony was also attended by the President of the City of Athens Cultural, Sport and Youth Organisation (OPANDA), Anna Rokofyllou, the President of Technopolis the City of Athens, Katerina Gagaki and the Managing Director of Technopolis,  Konstantinos Mpitzanis,  the Director of Hellas Film for Promotion and Distribution at the Greek Film Centre,  Konstantinos Aivaliotis, the Director of the National Historical Museum and Numismatic Museum, Giorgos Kakavas, the New Democracy MP,  Ioannis Pappas and the Museologist and Art Historian, Katerina Koskina.

The ceremony was also graced by international guests such as the German actor Jonas Dassler, who stars in Fatih Akin’s film “The Golden Glove”, Adam Dubin, the American director of the film “Murder in the Front Row: The San Francisco Bay Area Thrash Metal Story”, Uli M Schueppel, the German director of the film “The Breath” and Kaili Peng, collaborator and life partner of the great Edward Yang on whom the festival will be running an extensive tribute. The international guests were warmly welcomed by the festival’s Artistic Director, Loukas Katsikas.

Other distinguished guests from the entertainment sector also attended such as the directors Nicos Perakis, Nikos Karathanos, Yorgos Tsemberopoulos, Yorgos Zois, Syllas Tzoumerkas, Konstantina Kotzamani, Yannis Veslemes, Rinio Dragasaki, Elissavet Chronopoulou, Panagiotis Fafoutis, Markos Gastin, Kostantis Fragopoulos and the actors Michele Valley, Themis Bazaka, Tonia Sotiropoulou, Vasiliki Troufakou, Dimitris Lalos, Theo Nicholas Pagones, Yorgos Pirpassopoulos, Dimitra Matsouka, Christos Stergioglou, Marisha Triantafyllidou, Yannis Kokiasmenos, Nikolas Aggelis, Yannis Stankoglou, Valeria Hristodoulidou as well as the composers-singers Kostis Maravegias and Panos Mouzourakis.

The ceremony began with a montage of some of the moments of the 9th Athens Open Air Film Festival. The Athens International Film Festival’s Managing Director, Tatiana Pappa, welcomed the audience and referred to the Athens Open Air Film Festival as “a euphoric celebration of cinema and our city, a gesture of love for the big screen and the promotion of the city of Athens, a festival that is organised by the Athens Film Society and, a free-admission event with a great turnout, each year”.

Ms Pappa went on to say that “institutions such as the Athens International Film Festival act as cultural and economic levers of development in a country and the Athens Film Society, with the aid of its events, aims to strengthen cultural bonds, cultivate the intellect and reinforce fundamental values such as freedom of expression, equality and acceptance”. She continued by thanking the Chair of the Athens Film Society, Ms Maria Bobola, for her inspiration and support, the Ministry of Culture and Sports for their endorsement, the Special Secretariat of the Ministry of Development & Investments and the Sectoral Programme “Human Resources Development, Education and Lifelong Learning” for the “Blackboard Screen: Cinema and Education” tribute, the City of Athens Cultural, Sport and Youth Organisation and the Greek Film Centre for their support. She also thanked the following for their invaluable collaboration: COSMOTE TV, the festival’s Main Sponsor, Jameson, the Events Supporter, Fischer, the Sponsor of the Audience Award and the new significant Air Travel Sponsor, AEGEAN. Upon finishing her speech, Tatiana Pappa invited the Festival’s Artistic Director on stage, Mr Loukas Katsikas, who had a touching surprise in store for the audience:

The PALLAS Theatre screen lit up and the audience was greeted with shots of a very familiar and beloved, to Athenians, architectural masterpiece. Loukas Katsikas greeted the audience from ATTIKON Cinema and said: 

“We are in the place where the Athens International Film Festival started 25 years ago. The festival’s first screening took place in APOLLON Cinema in the afternoon of Thursday 15th September. The first screening at ATTIKON Cinema took place the following afternoon. For the next 17 years, these historic cinemas of Athens gracefully stood as our base, our headquarters, our pride, our jewel. But in February of 2012, our Festival and our city were violently and unjustly deprived of these two venues. Tonight, as the 25th Athens International Film Festival commences we are once more unable to be there. Tonight we think of our beloved venues. Tonight, let us all hope that we, the Festival, and you, the countless cinemagoers of this city, may soon return to our “home”. So that Athens may once more rediscover its beloved venues.”

The audience responded with an emotionally charged and heartfelt applause. The Artistic Director went on to point out that “throughout these years the City of Athens has been one of the main benefactors of the Athens International Film Festival” and so he invited onto the stage the Mayor of Athens, Mr Kostas Bakoyannis, “who honours us with his presence tonight”, to address the audience and formally declare the commencement of this year’s festival.

The Mayor of Athens addressed the guests enthusiastically and spoke of his love of film, its value as a “life experience that brings us all together” and the importance of the Festival as part of the cultural history of the city, as a landmark, “a festival which started out as an International Film Festival in Athens and evolved into the Athens International Film Festival”, a pan-European and significant cultural contribution. Before concluding his speech and declaring the start of the festival, he also expressed his wish and made a promise to “wager that the ATTIKON and APOLLON Cinemas will soon open again where everyone may share this great celebration of cinema”.

Loukas Katsikas then thanked the film distributors, without whose support this grand cinematic celebration would not be possible (AMA FILMS, CAROUSEL FILMS, DANAOS FILMS , FEELGOOD ENTERTAINMENT, FILMTRADE, ODEON, ROSEBUD 21, SEVEN FILMS, SPENTZOS FILM, STRADA FILMS, TANWEER, WEIRD WAVE), he also thanked supporters, communication sponsors and all of the other collaborators from the “bottom of [his] heart”.

Before concluding his speech the Artistic Director made mention of the “Giorgos Tziotzios” Honorary Award which was instituted this year and “bears the name of the person who made this Festival come true” and which will be presented to distinguished guests of the Festival as a lifetime achievement award in film and culture. This year’s recipients of the award will be the world-renowned and award-winning directors Costa-Gavras and Jerzy Skolimowski.

Finally, Mr Katsikas read a letter of appeal by the director of “Parasites”, Joon-ho Bong, to the audience asking that they refrain from making spoilers and proceeded with wishing everyone a great anniversary edition of the Festival, full cinemas and a further 25 years full of film!

The film  “Parasites” was screened with the kind endorsement of Seven Films

The opening ceremony took place with simultaneous interpretation in the Greek Sign Language by Theodora Tsapoiti. Following the opening ceremony a reception took place at the City Link with the music selection of Pepper FM’s radio producer Liana Mastathi.

We would like to remind you that the curtain will fall on the Festival on Saturday 28th September at the Athens Concert Hall with the closing ceremony and International Competition sections award ceremony followed by the nationwide premiere of the highly anticipated Greek film “Adults in the Room” by Costa-Gavras, to be attended by the director and other members of the cast and crew. The film will be screened with the kind endorsement of Odeon.

Athens’ beloved cinematic fall date celebrates 25 years this year and will take place from 18th to 29th September at the following cinemas: DANAOS 1 & 2, ODEON OPERA 1 & 2, IDEAL, ASTOR, PALLAS and the ATHENS CONCERT HALL.

The festival programme can be found online HERE.

    Publication date: 2019-09-19 20:56:50


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