TIFF announces Athens as focus of City to City program

TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey and international programmer Dimitri Eipides said in a conference call the 10 yet-to-be-selected films will be contemporary works.
AthensAcropolis by Jay Galvin-1

Toronto International Film Festival artistic director Cameron Bailey and festival international programmer Dimitri Eipides on Wednesday announced that Athens, Greece will be the focus of the City to City program at this year’s festival

“What I’m most interested in with the City to City series is how cities shape filmmakers living conditions, culture, history, including cinematic history; how they can shape how a filmmaker sees the world and how they construct their films,” Bailey said in a conference call following the announcement.

Bailey and Eipides, who lives in Athens and has been a programmer with TIFF for 26 years, said that while the 10 films that will comprise the program haven’t yet been selected, they will program contemporary Greek films, the majority from the last four years.

“What’s interesting is that you’ve seen in conjunction with the economic crisis in Greece a rise in very interesting, independent filmmaking, filmmakers working in very difficult circumstances economically, but really reinventing the form in terms of contemporary cinema,” Bailey said.

He emphasized that while the economic crisis and social conditions in Greece will undoubtedly be reflected in some of the film selections, the program will not focus on the crisis. He added that he and Eipides will look for diversity in the selections, including both narrative features and documentaries.

Eipides said he will also look to recent films from emerging Greek filmmakers, who he said are contributing to the resurgence of Greek cinema into the forefront.

“This is a very productive period for Greek cinema, it has been for the past few years despite the crisis. [In terms of] upcoming [Greek] films prepared for next year, I counted 20 – that’s significant for a small country with a small public,” said Eipides. “There’s a lot of positive energy. We are facing kind of a movement in Greek cinema; it’s necessary for many reasons, and also for people who feel completely affected by the crisis to feel a bit of pride,” he added.

While Eipides couldn’t pinpoint exact budgets that Greek filmmakers have been working with in recent years, he said that resources are very limited, adding that some filmmakers and crew work without salaries.

Bailey said one desired outcome of the City to City series, and the focus on Athens specifically, is to raise the profile for new filmmakers coming out of the city, and to generate more interest in those films amongst industry buyers and sellers with a deeper understanding of what’s happening in Athens.

The City to City series showcases filmmakers living and working in a particular city, regardless of where their films are set. Last year’s City to City program focused on filmmakers from Mumbai.

The spotlight city is chosen from a short list of typically three cities, and ones that are cinematic hot spots internationally and that have a range of new films and production activity to introduce to the Toronto festival audience.

The program lineup will be announced in July.

The 38th Toronto International Film Festival runs Sept. 5 to 15, 2013.

Photo by Jay Galvin, Flickr Creative Commons