"It was not the obvious choice to decide to have a festival again this year," said Athens International Film Festival artistic director Orestis Andreadakis in his opening speech on Wednesday night (August 19), referring to the hardships crisis-ridden Athenian movie industry and public are facing.
And yet scores of movie-lovers and film professionals filled up the fest's new ceremony venue, this year moved to the prestigious Pallas theatre, as opposed to regular festival homes Attikon and Apolon, which are still being renovated due to arson during last February's riots.
With a 179-film line-up spread across its 12 separate sections, the fest will showcase much-awaited local premieres of Oliver Stone's Savages, Xavier Dolan's Lawrence Anyways and David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis, along with festival favorites such as Michael Haneke's Golden Palm winner Amour and Canadian Oscar nominee Monsieur Lazhar, by Philippe Falardeou.
Falardeou will be attending the festival to present his film, as will Fatih Akin who will be presenting his latest, Polluting Paradise, along with regular co-writer Adam Bousdoukos. American director Whit Stillman will be at hand for the festival's focus on his work, while the festival will also be paying tribute to Nikkatsu Studios - Japan's oldest production house - as well as camp cinema.
Vying for the Golden Athena, the fest's big prize, titles like UCR contender Gimme the Loot, Sundance screenwriting award winner Young and Wild, and SXSW audience charmer Eden will be premiering in Athens.
Local talent will have its own share of the centre stage, with the festival reserving spots for new feature films by Stella Theodoraki, Marco Gastin and Petros Sevastikoglou among others, as well as presenting a new short-films competition programme, thus directly challenging the Drama International Film Festival, so far the local go-to gathering for short- and medium-length films.
Read more exclusive contents on cineuropa.org.