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Mexico's 'Perpetual Sadness' takes top prize at Thessaloniki Film Festival

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Mexico's 'Perpetual Sadness' takes top prize at Thessaloniki Film Festival
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The top prize at this year’s Thessaloniki Film Festival has gone to Mexico’s ‘La Tiricia’.

Globally distributed under the English title ‘Perpetual Sadness’, 'La Tiricia' is set in a remote Mexican village where two women find themselves pregnant by the same man. In his second feature film, Jorge Pérez Solano uses little dialogue, relying instead on the acting and the scenery to show the women’s pain and stoicism, their struggle with nature and their destiny.

“I wasn’t expecting it, even though the film was well received in previous screenings. It got good reviews. People came to me. For me, to be in a festival like this is an award in itself. To receive this prize is more than I expected,” said Pérez Solano.

The festival’s second most important award, the Silver Alexander, went to Israeli director Asaf Korman’s 'At li layla' or ‘Next to Her’. The Bronze Alexander – the Special Jury Award for Originality and Innovation – was awarded to 'Urok' by Bulgarian duo Kristina Grozeva & Petar Valchanov.

Loosely based on a real-life incident, ‘Urok’ or ‘The Lesson’ is a no-frills drama about a schoolteacher slowly driven to the edge by crushing debt. When she finds that one of her students has stolen from her purse, she tries to give a lesson of forgiveness to her class, which unexpectedly turns into a life lesson for her.

Euronews asked the producers behind the film what attracted them to this movie.

“The intriguing part was that it is based on a true story. It has to do with a teacher who robbed a bank,” said Konstantina Stavrianou of Greek film production company Graal Films.

“The film is full of subversion. The moral values of the main character suddenly collapse. She has to adapt to a new world that is far removed from what she believes in, from her own personality,” explained Rena Vougioukalou of Graal Films.

Tickets for the screenings were nearly all sold out. The jury’s president, Austrian director Götz Spielmann, was delighted with this year’s selection: “Well, not only me, all of us from the jury are very pleased that it has a real high quality level. Most of the movies are really interesting to watch. It doesn’t happen that much so it’s is something special that the quality here in Thessaloniki is that high,” he said.

The festival also payed homage to iconic German actress and singer Hanna Schygulla, who received the Golden Alexander for her life-long achievements in the motion picture industry.

The 70-year old rose to fame in the 1960’s as the muse of German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, with whom she shot 23 movies, including ‘Lili Marleen’.

“We often called Fassbinder a magician. He had this magic touch. He could make so many things happen very fast,” she said. “But he was also spellbound, in a way. It was like there was a curse hanging over him all of his life. Maybe all this had to do with the fact that he didn’t believe in love or that love could last a lifetime.”

As her country celebrates 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the legendary actress won over the audience in Thessaloniki with a rich repertoire in English, French and German, where she reminisced about her life, love and work, and the pains and dreams of Germany’s post-war generation.