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TIFF sets sights on Athens

Toronto International Film Festival artistic director Cameron Bailey and international programmer Dimitri Eipides announced on Wednesday [8] that the Greek capital will be the focus of the 2013 City To City programme.

Festival heads will unveil the fifth, 10-strong filmmaker showcase line-up in July.

Bailey told reporters during a conference call that the programmers had selected Athens in much the same way they had highlighted previous cities.

In view of the Greek financial crisis he explained that the aim of the series, which has previously spotlighted Tel Aviv, Istanbul, Buenos Aires and Mumbai, was to highlight filmmaking and was not designed to comment in any way on the affairs of national government.

The team identified three contenders in the months after the festival and the final selection was determined by a number of criteria, one being that the city’s filmmakers were anticipated to have produced enough material in time for the next festival.

The artistic director added that the 10 films would be contemporary and most likely would not go back further than four years ago. Eipides declined to name any of the upcoming titles.

“City To City looks for cinematic hot spots around the world,” said Bailey. “We want to introduce our audience to new generations of filmmakers unafraid to rewrite the rules. When we started thinking about the startlingly original films emerging recently from this ancient and contemporary city, the perfect choice for us this year was Athens.”

“After a long period of hibernation, Greek cinema has finally found its way back to the forefront,” said Eipides. “A number of young filmmakers — most of them fresh out of film school or, at best, with a couple of shorts to their name — turned things around. Where others saw devastation, they saw inspiration.

“Working with minimal means, often exchanging services on each other’s productions, they churned out films which gained attention around the world. Hopefully this new wave of international exposure will give Greek cinema the confidence to communicate its message from a position where national boundaries will no longer matter.”

Eipides added that in spite of the Greek economic crisis there was “a lot of energy” in Athens. “It’s important for people who feel affected by the crisis to feel a bit of pride.”

Bailey also took time to hail Eipides. “We’re very lucky to have in Dimitri probably the leading film expert from Greece who has been with TIFF for 26 years. He lives in Athens and knows the culture intimately. We could not have a better person to do this.”

The 38th Toronto International Film Festival is scheduled to run from Sept 5-15.

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