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Thessaloniki market defies fest crisis


The Thessaloniki International Film Festival (TIFF, December 3-12) closed up its market on Monday and upped its status despite a heavily slashed budget.

Set up in 2007, Agora, soon become the busiest section of the fest, focusing on the Balkans and southern Mediterranean countries that find it hard to access the European networks.

“We were forced to be more eclectic when inviting people to the market, and we were really hurt by the date change”, head of Crossroads and Balkan Fund Angeliki Vergou told Cineuropa, referring to the clash between TIFF’s dates and those of other festivals such as Turin.

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“Nevertheless, we still managed to have major players like The Coproduction Office, Wide Management, Rezo and Films Boutique present”, she added, noting that “it was a make-or-break year, because we told a lot of previous years’ guests that it’s going to be a tough one this time around, as we didn’t have the budget to cover their full expenses and wouldn’t be able to accommodate them for more than three days”.

Attendees’ past experience proved beneficial, as the festival didn’t suffer great losses and managed to gather 120 film professionals for the duration of the market events, as opposed to last year’s 180. “It was rather touching,” said Agora head Yanna Sarri, “a lot of people would say that we were very kind to them in previous years, they liked the fest and were definitely coming back.”

As for business, the Agora garnered a lot of interest with its renewed Works in Progress section, coordinated by Vergou and Sarri, who this year were happy to see the section’s jury present its award to local director Filippos TsitosUnfair World, currently in production.

Tsitos’ film automatically became the market’s hottest title, while serious buzz was created by projects like Wasted Youth by Dimitris Papaditropoulos’ (Bank Bang), Man in the Sea by Constantine Giannaris (Hostage [+see also:
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), Bujar Alimani’s Greek/French/Albanian debut Amnesty and Adalbert’s Dream by Romanian newcomer Gabriel Achim.

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