The events program of the 64th edition of the Thessaloniki Film Festival next month has taken on even more shine, following an announcement at last week’s press conference. Up to that point, the organizers of the venerable film festival had kept the presence of the great Monica Bellucci a closely guarded secret. At the conference, however, the festival’s organizers formally announced that the Italian star of stage and screen would come to Thessaloniki in November to receive the honorary Golden Alexander, awarded for her extraordinary contribution to the film industry over her decades-long career.
Monica Bellucci, a symbol of timeless beauty, and whose acting CV boasts countless memorable roles, will also attend two special screenings at the festival. The first, on November 8th, will be that of “Maria Callas: Letters and Memories,” a film adaptation of Tom Volf’s play of the same name, which was also Bellucci’s theatrical debut in 2019. The screening is part of the celebrations for Year of Maria Callas. The second, on November 9th, will be the unforgettable “Malena” by Giuseppe Tornatore, after which she will be awarded her prize.
At last week’s press conference, however, other announcements were made, including the opening and closing films of the festival: Franco-Vietnamese Tran Anh Hung’s film, “On Fire,” which won the Cannes director’s award, will open the festival on November 2nd, while the curtain will fall on the festival with the Croisette Award-winning film “Fallen Leaves,” by the masterful Finnish director, Aki Kaurismaki.
The organizers also reminded the attendant journalists of the two major tributes of this year’s event, which are accompanied by the corresponding art exhibitions: one to the legendary Greek filmmaker, Takis Kanellopoulos (1933-1990), the other to “Ghosts,” with 33 films dealing with the seductive world of spirits, memories, and the open wounds of the past.
In addition to Monica Bellucci, the outstanding career of set designer Nikos Perakis will also be highlighted, as he is honored with the Chrysos Alexandros Award in Thessaloniki this year. The award will be presented by the great German film director Volker Schlendorf, with whom Perakis collaborated in the Oscar-winning film, “The Tin Drum” (1979).
Another important guest will be Alexander Payne, who will present his new film entitled “Children of Winter.” Finally, as part of the Agora, the multi-award winning director and producer Jeremy Ponteswa (“Game of Thrones,” “Six Feet Under”) will be at the festival to deliver a masterclass on the evolution of modern television.
Of course, the festival will also pay tribute to the late, great Mary Chronopoulou, who died on October 6. As announced by the artistic director, Orestis Andreadakis, the memory of the legendary Greek actress will be honored with the screening of the film, “A Woman’s Past” (1968), directed by Yiannis Dalianidis, which is one of those films that is rarely shown on the big screen.
This article was previously published in Greek at kathimerini.gr.