On the occasion of the 46th International Film Festival in Thessalonica
#1 The International Festival of Thessalonica is one of the festivals that establish both the innovative spirit of the new production and the dignity of the classical film; in November 2005 it had its 46th anniversary. An impressive number of years that have turned the city at Baes Kule into a favorite destination of the film makers praised or criticized in their environments as big hope for the future of the film, as enfant terrible that will soon turn into a conformist or a heretic beyond control. The hosts have tried to have the list of esthetically opposite authors and films thematically set as a call for battle with conformism as diverse as possible. This tendency was recognizable in the concept of the festival program of last year, and in the films shown one, two and more decades ago, and in the work of the participants of the 46th Thessalonica Festival.
#2 The thick, decomposed mosaic of festival films included not only in the competition, but also in the programs: Days of Independent Film; Balkan View; Young Americans; Oeuvre; Greek Film 2005, could easily recruit you to the idea that the modern film, on the run from the conformism of classical esthetic schools, had dispersed its perspectives in shattered idea fragments. In its unfinished stories, it has cowardly escaped from the poetic context in which both the winners and the losers are the children of their environments and in which the harsh clashes of the individuals and the collectives go hand in hand with the situation of apathy and powerlessness.
#3 But, this is an impression that only seemingly shows the current cinematographic situation in the world, projected, of course, to the program of the 46th International Festival in Thessalonica, where there were more than 250 films from all five continents. Judging by the films that we saw, it is more than obvious that the young authors today have more trust in the specifics of their own perception, no matter how much it misses sharpness, clearance and readability, than in the postulates of the monolithic esthetic systems.
Therefore the frequent tendency that they put their imagination in the service of the articulation of individual destinies rather than in the analysis of the collective emotions. They avoid to group themselves around one school of movement, as it was the case in the last century. The time of fascination with the poetics of a movement and the force of influence that it had seems to have become past. The charisma of the German expressionism, fatalism of the French poetic realism, humanism of the Italian neo-realism, the rebellion of the French new wave, or the documentarism of the recent Dogma that was made by the Danish Lars von Trier, are phenomena cemented in an epoch from which they sparkle their tamed force in the work of an individual author only from time to time.
#4 Indeed, when one follows the program of the last Thessalonica Festival more closely, it is noticeable that the traces of some of the traditional schools have not been fully erased. There are young people in whose genes the echo of rebelliousness echoes, without finding its satisfaction in the views of the pyromaniac explosions of the airport fields and cosmic ships, staged in the Hollywood studio laboratories. Their sensibility is not bribed into the orgies of the criminals who have to admit their defeats to their rivals in the end of titan-like clashes on shiny avenues of the American and European metropolis, fetishlike super-heroes such as the aged Sylvester Stallone.
#5 The Mexican film Blood (Sangre) of the 26-year old Spanish Amat Escalante, for example, does not belong to a civilization that produces mega spectacles such as the Star Wars. But the work of Amat Escalante, on the other hand, is not only an image of the alienation of the modern citizen, lost in the labyrinths of the sex, apathy and virtual sensitivity, does not have the strength to oppose the phantoms of hypocrisy, egotism and cultural repressiveness. The intimate life of the main characters of the film, sensitive Diego and his wife Blanca is the prototype of an ideology that successfully pushes the forces of rage, resistance and the wish to be different out of the world of existence. Amat Escalante in many aspects remind of most of his contemporaries in the degree of development of the drama of the married couple that leads to spiritual entropy: his perception of the social reality is sharp; the narration is original to the extent to which the differences of the narrative technique are distinctive; the associations are lively, although to a certain extent predictable. But, at the moment when the daughter of Diego’s firs marriage appears in his life and brings the waves of her first love with her, some rebellious impulses discretely appear in Amat Escalante’s heart. His character becomes very close to the film heroes born in the tragic times of the legends of the Latin American film: Glober Rocha, Miguel Litin, Lima Barreta. These are the years when the big names of the Brazilian, Mexican, Bolivian or Uruguayan film were grouped around the programs of the movements such as Cinema Novo, Ukamau or the New Chilean Film.