White God and A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence bookend the 55th Thessaloniki International Film Festival.

The 55th Thessaloniki International Film Festival (Oct 31-Nov 9) kicks off today with the Cannes Certain Regard Gran Prix awarded White God by Hungarian filmmaker Kornél Mundruczó.

It concludes November 9 with the Venice Golden Lion awarded A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence by Swedish director Roy Andersson.

Both directors will be present as they are set to also receive homages.

Also receiving tributes are legendary German actress Hanna Schygulla, US director Ramin Bahrani and his Serbian colleague Želimir Žilnik.

They will  enjoy retrospectives of their films and will offer master classes.

Among others attending are Fatih Akin to present The Cut, Ira Sachs to introduce Love Is Strange co-produced by local production powerhouse, Christos Konstantakopoulos’ Faliro House boasting among its international coproductions slate  Jarmush’s Only Lovers Left Alive plus two upcomig Terrence Malick films in post. 

Also attending is British ddirector Peter Strickland with The Duke of Burgundy fresh from a positive response at its Toronto and London premieres.

Returning to Thesaloniki is Ole Christian Madsen with his latest, Itsi Bitsi.

The competition program includes 14 first and second films (scroll down for full list).

The five members international jury set to award the Golden, Silver and Bronze Alexanders is formed by  Austrian director Götz Spielmann, president, Toronto programmer Lebanese Rasha Salti, Film Center Serbia Miroljub Vuckovic, Epa New Horizons festival artistic director Polish Joanna Lapinska and Greek/German producer Thanos Karathanos.

The 150 -strong line up put together by artistic director Dimitri Eipides is spread  in 15 sections. Principal among them, alongside the competition and tributes, are the Open Horizons no competitive strand, the emblematic Balkan Survey, the Greek Panorama dedicated this year to the 100 years of Greek cinema as well as films nominated for the European Parliament Lux Awards.

The Creative Europe Media backed business section of the event –Agora Industry, the Works in Progress and the Crossroads co-production strands focusing on films from the Balkans, Eastern Europe an the Mediterranean-is showcasing 230 titles.

The 13 projects presented at Crossroads are vying for eight awards including those by the French CNC (Euros 7,000) and Arte France (Euros 6000). The jury is composed by Ewa Puszczynska, producer-Opus Films, Poland, Thania Dimitrakopoulou, sales agent-Match Factory, Germany and Elise Jalladeau, producer/Audiovisual Attachée at the Embassy of France in Greece, France.

Ten films are selected for the Works in Progress section.

The  jury is formed by Arnaud Gourmelen, Programmer at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, France

Gabor Greiner, Sales Agent-Films Boutique, Germany and Konstantina Vonorta, producer-Graal, Greece.

The main award worth €70,000 in services in kind is offered by the local digital intermedia post production powerhouse Graal.

International Competition

  • Amnesia by Nini Bull Robsahm, Norway,
  • At li layla/Next to Her by Asaf Korman, Israel,
  • Flugparken/Blowfly Park by Jens Ostberg, Sweden,
  • Forget me not by Yannis Fagras, Greece,
  • Ich seh, Ich seh/Goodnight Mommy, by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, Austria,
  • Klass Korrekzii/Corrections Class by Ivan I.Tverdovsky, Russia, Germany,
  • La Tirisia/Perpetual Sadness by Jorge Perez Solano, Mexico,
  • Magical Girl by Carlos Vermut, Spain, France,
  • Modris by  Juris Kursietis, Latvia, Greece, Germany,
  • Norviyia/Norway by Yiannis Veslemes, Greece,
  • Plemya/The Tribe by Myroslav Slaboshptskiy, Ukraine,
  • Risttuules/In the Crosswind by Martti Helde, Estonia,
  • She’s Lost Control by Anja Marquardt, USA,
  • Urok/The Lesson by Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov, Bulgaria, Greece,.