The period of preparation for the 12th AAGFF, through the ongoing pandemic and the war in Ukraine, led us to question the role of art in difficult times and intensified the sense of the return of the tragic in Europe. So we focused on film directors who were inspired from subaltern and despised forms of knowledge, emerging from the dispossessed of our world. At the same time, cinema itself remains a horizon of vocations and alternative visions cultivated by institutions such as the film archives and the special festivals that aim at a redefinition of cinephilia.

The International competition includes 9 films, both by established and debut film directors, which in some cases seek to bridge documentary and fiction, highlighting the importance of local knowledge and unconventional cinematic techniques as forms of resistance. Such narratives unfold in films like the one in the Philippines (The history of Ha), in Bolivia (The great movement), in Paraguay (Eami) and in India (Pedro). The female perspective reflects either a revolutionary attitude (Dry ground burning) or a corporeal and self-reflexive approach on identity (Beatrix). The investigation of the family context is explored either in terms of activism (Nuclear family) or introspection (The cathedral). The limits of dialogue and communication on the permeability of life and the porosity of culture are explored in the documentary See you Friday, Robinson.

A pioneering attitude and style permeates the work of Jonas Mekas, “the pope of the avant-garde cinema”. As Nicole Brenez notes, his diary films preserve the endless vibrations of existence, radiate the beauty of the company of friends and testify to the presence of grace on earth. The avant-garde French-American film director, cinematographer and photographer Babette Mangolte is a guest of our Festival and presents a selection of her experimental films that explore the very act of looking and the female gaze, in relation to the American landscape and the body-arts of dance and performance. Dance and modern dance-based fiction (screendance) are at the heart of the migrating Artists Project (mAPs).

The women's perspective, combined with issues of empowering female creativity and the position of professional women in the cinema industry, are the starting points for the program Through women’s lens. Our guests, distinguished cinematographers Agnès Godard, Daria D’Antonio, Olympia Mytilinaiou, Katerina Maragoudaki and Christina Moumouri, present films that they have worked on and discuss their itinerary.

The return of the tragic in Europe traverses the selections from the oeuvre of Theo Angelopoulos, the documentary Babi.Yar. Context by Sergei Loznitsa, for the massacre of Jews in Ukraine in 1941, and the television adaptation of Tsirkas’s trilogy, Drifting Cities by Robert Manthoulis. Angelopoulos, drawing inspiration from Brecht, in his earlier films wanted to redeem the defeated in the Greek civil war and in his later films, and especially in the Trilogy of borders, to bring to the fore the plight of immigrants, not only from the Balkans but also from other dispossessed parts of the world.

The problem of the formation of the nation-state pervades the tribute, After the revolution: Images of the nation-state, examining the failure of revolutionary projects to live up to their promises in Greece, Italy, the Balkans, Latin America and Africa, with films by Visconti, Angelopoulos, Koundouros, Papastathis, Kazan, Alea and others. Similar concerns are expressed by the curator of the tribute After the catastrophe: Cinema at the time of the 6th extinction, Nicole Brenez: “How can cinema free itself of its anthropocentric and industrial determinations? Each of the films presented here offers a solution, be it iconographic or technical”.

Regarding cinephilia, the great retrospective to George Stevens, the small tribute to Satyajit Ray, as well as the tribute to the Portuguese ethnographic cinema of António Reis and Margarida Cordeiro, stand out. Stevens's great talent unfolds in 7 films that take us from the golden age of Hollywood to the early 1960s and the cracks in the American dream. From the 9 films of our standard program Restored and beautiful, we single out the silent films of Keaton, Dulac and Mousidora, as well as the restored and complete version of the film Phantom of the Paradise by Brian de Palma. Our Festival is especially proud to present for the first time the film by Robert Manthoulis, Face to face, in digital restoration in 4K, in collaboration with the Imagine Ritrovata Laboratory in Bologna and Greek laboratories.

The hybrid 12th AAGFF takes place both physically and online, within the framework of the Regional Operational Program of Attica (2014-20) with the co-financing of the European Regional Development Fund.

I would like to thank the Minister of Culture, Lina Mendoni, and the Deputy Minister, Nicholas Yatromanolakis; the Regional Government of Attica Giorgos Patoulis, the Deputy Regional Governor of Attica for Culture Haris Romas, the Mayor of Athens Kostas Kostas Bakoyannis and the Executives of the Special Management Service of the Regional Operational Program of Attica; the Embassy of Portugal in Greece and in particular the Ambassadress Helena Paiva and the Head of the Consular Section João Ricardo Mendes; the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania and especially Rūta Vaičiūnienė, Chargée d'affaires a.i. and Chief Officer Viktorija Dapkutė; the French Institute of Athens and especially its Director Nicolas Eybalin and Theo Koutsaftis, Audiovisual attaché. The Embassy of Italy in Greece, the Italian Cultural Institute of Athens and especially the Deputy Director, Susanna Sylvia Schlein and Giorgio Christoforidis, Press attaché. The film production company Authorware and Panos Bisdas for the International competition prize. Finally the Board of Directors, the General Coordinator Electra Venaki and all collaborators, programmers and curators of the 12AAGFF.

Maria Komninos
Director of the 12th Athens Avant-Garde Film Festival




Member of