Lily Sometimes takes jury prize for best film at 12th annual event.

Lily Sometimes (Pieds nus sur les limaces) by Fabienne Berthaud was awarded the Jury prize for best film at the 12th Athens French speaking film festival (FFFG) (which ran March 31-April 8).

The six-member jury was headed by Theo Angelopoulos and included Greek producer George Tsourgiannis and France’s Helene Glykatzi-Ahrweiler.

The award sponsored by the Athens Municipality and the French public channel TV5 carries together a purse of €20,000 to support the Greek theatrical release of the film by distributor Feelgood Entertainent.

Another sophomore film, Tell Me Your Name (Le nom des gens) by Michel Leclerc was voted best film by the public. The story follows a young leftist who uses physical seduction. The award backed by Fischer comes with €6,000 in cash also to support Greek distribution of the film (via Rosebud).

Rosebud is among the leaders of French films distribution in the country which is, according to the backer and co-organiser of the festival Unifrance, among the top countries worldwide distributing French films. The Unifrance report shows that Greece aquires and shows 8% of the annual French-speaking production which translates to more than 50 films released theatrically in the country year after year.

That is one explanation for the strong delegation attending the event, which is organised by the Athens French Institute (IFA) under Catherine Suard, president of the festival and artistic director Elise Jalladeau.

Heading the list was no less than Catherine Deneuve, who presented the opening film, Francois Ozon’s Potiche.

Claudia Cardinale, the French, Italian, Tunisian star, was the guest of honour of the festival receiving an emotional reception and the time life achievement award.

She also introduced The Thread (Le fil), by Mehdi Ben Attia, a Tunisian-French co-production in which she plays the understanding mother of an homosexual man in his thirties.    

The rising French star of Greek origin Anna Mouglalis enjoyed a carte blanche. The star of Claude Chabrol’s Merci pour le Chocolat, Jan Kounen’s Coco Channel and Igor Stravinsky, and Joann Sfar’s Gainsbourg, showed a selection of five films she programmed. They ranged from Alain Resnais’ classical Hiroshima mon amour, to Agnes Varda’s Sans toit ni loi and the world premiere of Samuel Benchetrim’s Chez Gino starring Mouglalis.

Another world premiere — Nicostratos, A Special Summer, shot in a Greek island by Olivier Horlait — was the awards ceremony and closing gala film. Leading the French-Greek cast was Emir Kusturica, present to introduce the film where he plays the leading part, that of an estranged father who reinvents his relationship with his adolescent son.

The 60+ film programme played in two downtown theatres plus the IFA Auditorium and the Greek Cinematheque. This last venue was entirely booked for the presentation of a 15-film homage to Claude Chabrol. The tribute was put together with the French Cinematheque, whose president Costa Gavras was on hand to introduce the programme.

Other guests attending included actresses Diane Kruger and Ludivine Sagnier (Lily Sometimes); director Anthony Cordier and Elodie Bouchez (Happy Few), director/actress Nicole Garcia and actress Marie-Josee Croze (Un balcon sur la mer), director Alexandre Arcady (Comme les doights dans la main), Donoma director Djin Carrenard; director Renaud Fely and actor Yannick Renier (Pauline et Francois), and director Pierre Thoreton and subject Pierre Berger from Yves Saint Laurent-Pierre Berge, l’amour fou.

Following its Athens wrap the festival programme plays April 7-12 in Thessaloniki.