The 50th Thessaloniki International Film Festival has wound up after ten days of screenings that had been threatened by a boycott.
The theme this year, at what is the biggest event of its kind in the Balkans, was the role of cinema in society. The festival winners certainly had something to say. The most prestigious award, the Golden Alexander for best feature film, went to “Ajami”, which is co-directed by Israel’s Yaron Shani and Scandar Copti, a Palestinian. The film is set in the streets of Ajami, a city where tensions are explosive between Jews and Arabs. The directors said they were trying to reflect the complex nature of the Arab/Israeli conflict. The Silver Alexander, which is the Special Jury award and comes with 25,000 euros, went to the film “Medal of Honour” by the Romanian director Calin Peter Netzer. The film tells of the consequences of when a 75 year old man receives a medal of honour in error for some heroic actions he never carried out during World War Two. And the boycott? Well, that was led by 100 Greek filmmakers in protest at the Greek government’s lack of funding for the industry.