The Athens International Film Festival – Opening Nights, in its 21st edition, brings to Greek audiences, through 10 separate sections, some of the world cinema best films, introducing the great upcoming directors and presenting cinema’s modern trends, through not only fiction but also documentary.
International Competition Section
The International Competition Section, more versatile than ever, hosts films from every corner of the world, from Denmark to America and from Thailand to Argentina, which contest for the First Prize, the Golden Athena Award.
Among the selected films is the Sleeping Giant, a coming of age story, which stirred up the Critics Week at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, placing instantly the newcomer Canadian director, Andrew Cividino, on the list with the most talented new artists. In his film, a seemingly quiet summer turns into a maiden voyage towards adulthood for three young boys.
On the other side of the world, in Palestine, 13 women get trapped into a beauty salon after a blast of violence erupts on the streets. They exchange comic dialogs and gossip but also some of their deepest fears. The film Degrade by Arab and Tarzan Nasser participated in the Critics Week at the Cannes Film Festival and got brilliant reviews everywhere.
At his directorial debut in fiction, Bridgend, Jeppe Ronde reconstitutes the gruesome veil of mystery that still hangs upon the namesake Welsh town, where in 2007 more than 79 suicides were committed by young people.
Postwar Germany convicts for the first time its Nazi past in the compelling film by Giulio Ricciarelli, Labyrinth of Lies, based on true events. A young lawyer discovers that seemingly ordinary people going by their lives used to be former members of the Nazi’s and executioners in the concentration camps. He decides to bring them to justice without any help.
The independent cinema new trends find a place in another Festival section, the Panorama Section.
An unexpected friendship is born between a teacher and a much promising student of hers when they realize they are both pregnant and start facing, each from her own situation, the forthcoming challenges of motherhood. The film Unexpected by Kris Swanberg is a film of enormous generosity and genuine thrills with two matching tender performances from our favorite Cobie Smulders and the young Gail Bean.
Chile’s new big hope, Sebastian Silva, director of Magic Magic directs now Kristen Wiig in a modern tragicomedy with unpredictable ending, in Nasty Baby. A homosexual gay couple from Brooklyn tries to have a baby using surrogacy with a friend; however, a mentally disturbed neighbor will not leave them at peace.
The Documentaries Section, strongly politicized, aims to introduce to the wide audience some of the most emblematic figures of modern history, not only of that written in the books, but also the live story written in every land through the experience of its people.
A typical example is the documentary by Ilinca Calugareanu, with the sarcastic title Chuck Norris VS Communism, which answers the question of why the voice of Irina Nistor is the most recognized one in Romania after that of Nicolae Ceausescu. Because she doubled, all by herself, THE WHOLE cast of American action films in secret screenings of smuggled VHS cassettes in the 80’s. Including of course, the doubling of their macho stars such as Van Damme, Stallone and Chuck Norris.
Back to the United States of America, the awarded Robert Gordon, confronts us with the first televised political debate in the thrilling Best of Enemies. In the light of the 1968 presidential elections, the historical rows between William F. Buckley, a leading conservative figure of the time, opposed to the liberal writer Gore Vidal, created a live show which brought ABC unprecedented publicity and changed forever news broadcasting, up to this day.
In this special Festival section, five stories by Edgar Allan Poe are animated in the Extraordinary Tales, by Raul Garcia. Among the voices that accompany these five tales of horror are those of: Christopher Lee, Guillermo del Toro, Julian Sands, Roger Corman but also a chilling recording by Bela Lugosi. A real treasure for the horror fans with Poe disguised in a raven and meeting with death!
Music & Film
One of the audience’s favorite Festival sections, Music & Film, presents this year more than 10 films, in and out of Competition! Ranging from hip hop to electronica and from rock to the indie stage, this section will shake up all music fanatics!
Among the section’s films, the My Secret World: The Story of Sarah Records is one of the most important indie labels of all times!