Forty Years of History

in 23rd International Short Film Festival, Drama

by Stratos Kersanidis

The Drama International Short Film Festival closed with celebrations for its 40 th year. In the newsletter, Antonis Papadopoulos, the festival’s artistic director for the last 18 years, expressed his satisfaction over “the institution that managed to rank among the first international festivals … to be recognized by international filmmaking organizations and to introduce new ideas.’’

This year, the number of applications to screen at the festival reached a new high. Out of 223 applications, 66 films were accepted, and they competed in the Greek section. As expected, most of the Greek films focused on contemporary everyday problems, such as the economic crisis and refugee issues. For the most part, the directors boldly approached and explored these themes.

The festival is closely connected with its local community, a key condition for its success. Most of the evening screenings for the National Competition took place in the Olympia Room, packed with film-lovers. This was due to the ‘‘multiform bonds that we have developed with the local community,” according to Papadopoulos. He added that “the substantial interconnection with the active municipality of the city and the Ministry of Culture allows for this borderline cultural institution to maintain its organizational adequacy and does not leave room for any art degrading because of the crisis.”

In the International Competition, which has been held for 23 years, 54 films from 48 countries were screened. This section opens a path to the world and the issues which concern societies and people in every corner of the planet. The International Competition has brought global cinema to Drama, putting Greek filmmakers in touch with their foreign colleagues. As a result, the quality of short Greek films has been elevated.

As in previous years, the venue proved very small for the purposes of an international festival, and the standing request for a larger cinema has not been granted. The mayor of Drama, Christodoulos Mamsakos, reminded us that all of the city’s other cinemas have closed, saying “We still have Olympia, a valuable asset for Drama and for the history of cinema throughout Greece. I consider it a blessing that as the people of Drama we maintained this historic venue which is now renovated. There is a high number of visitors and audience who embrace the festival, and, of course, we sensibly approach every possible solution to satisfy the demands of the audience. However, we should not forget that the difficult economic conditions have a limiting effect on our endeavors.’’

With regard to the festival’s 40 th year, it is worth noting how this institution was established in 1978, as an initiative of the Drama Film Club. Through great difficulty but with persistence and vision, the pioneers of the festival managed to gain the support of the municipality. In 1987, the event was recognized by the Ministry of Culture.

As Mayor Mamsakos says, “The love of the people of Drama for the Festival is a given fact. We should not omit that it was established by the citizens themselves and particularly by the Drama Film Club, which gave birth to this great festival for our region and our country. Cinema and specifically the Short Film Festival are an integral part of the culture of Drama. We feel proud for keeping the seventh art alive and for enabling short-film directors to express themselves … Forty years of uninterrupted operation confirm the relationship of love on the part of the people of Drama.”

The festival enters its fifth decade with the youthful energy of the first years of its operation, enriched with experience and knowledge.

Edited by Lesley Chow