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Cineuropa sat down with Orestis Andreadakis, director of the Thessaloniki Film Festival, to dig deep into the first edition of a brand-new event focused on green cinema initiatives and sustainability – the Evia Film Project (see the news). The event will unspool from 16-19 June.
Cineuropa: How did the idea to create the Evia Film Project come about? What’s your mission?
Orestis Andreadakis: Following the disastrous summer wildfires of 2021 and the tremendous impact of the island’s tragedy on a global scale, we were overwhelmed by a feeling of urgency. We felt it was about time to contribute to the rebuilding of the island in our own way, both offering a boost to the local community and striving to raise awareness, making use of all the tools and resources at our disposal. Our mission is to place Evia on the film-industry map, to prove that cinema and environmental conscience can work side by side, and to provide a jumping-off point for the rejuvenation of an island that suffered greatly. For that purpose, we are in close collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and Sports, since the Evia Film Project is part of the specially designated “Fotodotes” programme for the reconstruction and restoration of North Evia. And, of course, we are teaming up with the local government, businesses and residents of the area because this project is by them and for them.
Evia will boast a series of open discussions, workshops and master classes. What can they offer to the filmmakers and professionals attending the event?
Sustainability would be the key notion. Our targeted master classes, workshops and open discussions will focus on the methods of implementing sustainability both in all aspects of the film-festival industry and in our daily lives. Moreover, by hosting a series of children’s activities, we are setting our sights on getting youngsters engaged in the realm of environmentalism and luring them to the charm of cinema. Moreover, we cast a thorough glance at environmentally themed films, exploring the link between this fascinating sub-genre of movies and the benefits of investigative journalism. Our distinguished guests and acclaimed hosts and speakers provide the best quality guarantee of these events, which will prove to be appealing to a rich gamut of professionals.
Evia will also be an important showcase for new projects in progress and in development [see the news]. How did you choose them, and how will they benefit from their participation in the event?
The Thessaloniki Film Festival has been a consistent and fervent supporter of all upcoming and talented filmmakers. We take particular pride in our developmental branch, Agora, which has been skyrocketing constantly over the last few years. It’s safe to say that the Evia Film Project comes not as a comet, but as the outcome of a persistent effort, adding its name to the successful TIFF Agora – taking place in November – and TDF’s Agora Docs, unspooling in March. Over the last few years, an impressive number of projects showcased within our film market have recorded a remarkable festival – and overall – journey, thanks to all the assistance, incentives and guidance offered by our Agora actions. All projects are environmentally orientated, as part of our tenacious effort to make the Evia Film Project a hub and a springboard for green cinema.
Could you talk us through the film programme? What type of titles did you select?
The brainstorming process for the final line-up of every festival is always a delight and a challenge at the same time. The films selected touch upon a wide range of environmental topics, shedding light on the innumerable aspects of the climate crisis, which takes its toll on all areas of our society. It was our intention to maintain a balance between ringing the alarm bell, contemplating the repercussions of an ongoing catastrophe, urging immediate action, and conveying a message of hope and perseverance. In addition, we hand-picked a number of films that could prove to be stimulating for young ages, prompting children and adolescents to take an interest in environmental issues.
What are Evia’s long-term plans? What do you expect from this inaugural edition?
Balance is once again taking centre stage. We always aim high and dream big, without ever losing our focus. Step by step, we desire to fulfil our objectives, on both a local and a global level: aiding Evia to bounce back while reaching out to a wider audience, striving for a sustainable, viable and environmentally friendly future of the film industry and society as a whole. We are more than optimistic that Evia Film Project’s kick-off edition will build the necessary bedrock, so as to enable it to become a full-blown and dynamic institution.