Athens International Film Festival

24th Athens International Film Festival: Opening Ceremony in Pawel Pawlikowski's attendance

On Wednesday 19th September the opening ceremony of the 24th Athens International Film Festival took place at the Athens Concert Hall with the screening of the film “Cold War” by Oscar-winning director, Pawel Pawlikowski and in his attendance.

The opening ceremony was also attended by the Minister of Culture, Ms Myrsini Zorba, the President of the City of Athens Cultural, Sport and Youth Organisation (OPANDA),  Mr Konstantinos Mpitzanis, Chairman of the Hellenic Film Academy, Mr Vasilis Katsoufis, Director of Hellas Film for Promotion and Distribution at the Greek Film Centre, Mr Konstantinos Aivaliotis and the President of the  National Centre of Audiovisual Media and Communication- EKOME S.A., Panos Kouanis.

A number of notable guests from the film sector also attended the ceremony such as Desiree Akhavan, recipient of the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Festival for her film “The Miseducation of Cameron Post”,  directors Yorgos Zois, Aliki Danezi-Knutsen, Syllas Tzoumerkas, Nicos Perakis, Yannis Veslemes, Rinio Dragasaki, Elina Psykou, Sofia Exarchou,Angelos Frantzis, Konstantinos Frangopoulos, Markos Holevas and Olga Malea and actors Maria Tzobanaki, Dimitra Matsouka, Katia Goulioni, Dimitris Piatas, Christos Stergioglou, Maria Kallimani, Orfeas Avgoustidis, Nikolas Aggelis, Yannis Stankoglou, Valeria Christodoulidou.

The ceremony was held with simultaneous interpretation in the Greek Sign Language by Ms Theodora Tsapoiti.

The  ceremony began with the screening of a montage of the 8th Athens Open Air Film Festival.

The Artistic Director of the Athens International Film Festival,  Mr Loukas Katsikas, welcomed the audience and stated that “we tried to offer our audience solace during this past difficult summer for Athens”.

He went on to speak about the splendid programme of the 24th Athens International Film Festival, which he presented  through a video featuring excerpts from more than thirty (30) films which will be screened as part of this year's Festival.

He spoke of the Festival's three Competition Sections; the International Competition,  the International Documentary Competition and the Greek Short Film Competition, which is supported by the Greek Film Centre.  He also mentioned the ICONS section which includes documentaries about emblematic individuals from the world or art, fashion and sports.

Mr Katsikas also mentioned two pre-festival events; the screening of Stanley Kubrick's epic film “2001: A Space Odyssey” in a restored “resplendent 4K copy” as well as the official premiere celebrating the return of director Giorgos Panousopoulos with his film “In This Land Nobody Knew How To Cry”. The latter will be screened again during the Festival and will be fully accessible. The Festival will be honouring the director with a complete retrospective of his work titled “The Auteur of Sensuality”. The tribute will be held with the support of the Greek Film Centre.

While on the subject of tributes, Mr Katsikas continued by saying that “on the occasion of Mr Pawel Pawlikowski's attendance we will be presenting a spotlight on this great director's work and a tribute to the significant heritage of Polish cinema titled “Polish Gems” which includes the following directors: Roman Polanski, Krzysztof Zanussi, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Andrzej Wajda and Jerzy Kawalerowicz”.  Also given the 100th anniversary of the birth of the unforgettable Ingmar Bergman, the Festival will also be presenting a small tribute to the Swedish director titled “Bergman100”. Finally, he spoke about a tribute titled “The Future is Female: Cinema & Equality” which was put together by the women of the Festival, Maria Nathanail, Andy Dimopoulou, Dimitra Argyraki and Foteini Alevra,  and which is comprised of a series of free-entry screenings from 21st - 25th September at the Greek Film Archive. The screenings will be introduced by established Greek artists, academics and politicians.

The Managing Director of the Festival, Ms Tatiana Pappa took to the stage to thank the Ministry of Culture for its ongoing support. She also thanked the Ministry of Finance and Development,  Minister Alexis Charitsis and gave special thanks to the General Secretariat for Investments and Development, Mr Panagiotis Korkolis for “offering us a way to continue to go on”. She also extended her gratitude to the Region of Attica and the Special Division for the Management of Operational Programmes,  Ms Eva Apostolaki and Mr Aggelos Spiliotis.

Before concluding his speech, Mr Loukas Katsikas invited the famous Polish Director, Pawel Pawlikowski, onto the stage to present him with an honorary award for his work on behalf of the Athens International Film Festival.

Mr Pawel Pawlikowski stated that he was “shocked and amazed” by the venue in the Athens Concert Hall adding that it was even more impressive than the Palais du Festival in Cannes. He then thanked the artistic director, Mr Loukas Katsikas, for having invited him and for presenting him with an award. He went on to say that he made a concise film about love, war and music. He closed by wishing  “a great film season for everyone, the distributors, the cinemas and the audience!”.

The Artistic Director, Mr Loukas Katsikas, also thanked the Athens Concert Hall for hosting the opening of the 24th Athens International Film Festival as well as the “Friends of Music” society of the Athens Concert Hall for hosting the press conference and other Festival side events. He also thanked the Metropolitan College for hosting the Press Office, the Movement of Disabled Artists for their collaboration on arranging accessible screenings, the Greek Film Centre for supporting the Greek Short Film competition as well as the tribute to Giorgos Panousopoulos. He thanked the Ministry of Development, the Attica Region and the City of Athens Cultural, Sport and Youth Organisation for their ongoing support as well as the Ministry of Finance and the Secretariat Special , Mr Yiorgos Ioannidis for his support in realising the tribute “The Future is Female: Cinema & Equality”.

Finally, he also thanked COSMOTE TV (Main Sponsor), ATTIKI ODOS (Great Supporter), Jameson (Events Supporter), Fischer Beer (Sponsor of the Audience Award), CITROEN  Transportation Supporter), and Viva Wallet ( ticket and pass issuers), the restaurants Cookoovaya, AGORA and TGI Friday's, Zolotas Jewellery, YAFKA for creating the Festival spot, the Danaos 1 & 2, Odeon Opera 1 & 2, IDEAL, Astor and Pallas cinemas, the Greek Film Archive, the distributors AMA FILMS, DANAOS FILMS, FEELGOOD ENTERTAINMENT, FILMTRADE, ODEON, ROSEBUD 21, SEVEN FILMS, SPENTZOS FILMS, STRADA FILMS, TANWEER, WEIRD WAVE, The Goethe Institut, L’Institut français de Grèce, the British Council, the U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Greece, the Embassy of Sweden in Greece and the Embassy of Israel in Greece as well as all the remaining supporters, communication sponsors, collaborators and Festival volunteers.

Following the screening of the opening film, a party took place in the atrium of the Athens Music Concert Hall where all those delighted by “Cold War” celebrated  the night away having watched one of the greatest premieres in the history of the Festival!

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