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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

Aegean gracefully: the revamped Thessaloniki Film Festival

Athens News’ Angelike Contis reports on the revamped Thessaloniki International Film Festival, the November Greek event considered over the past decade by many observers to be one of Europe’s most important, in a new formation after a spring shake-up.
At an Athens press conference, new director Despoina Mouzaki (replacing longtime head Michel Demopoulos) described the revamped event as “more condensed.” The important International Competition will continue, along with tributes to South Korea’s Kim Ji Woon (The Quiet Family) and Park Chan-wook (known for his “Vengeance” trilogy), as well as Taiwanese poetic minimalist Hou Hsiao Hsien Japan’s yakuza king Seijun Suzuki. The festival has retained its Balkan Survey, and there will be peeks at the Mexican film tradition and the latest Danish and Irish films. Honorees of those offering masterclasses include Michael Winterbottom, Patrice Chereau, cinematographer Vittorio Storaro and production designer Alex McDowell. However, the vital New Horizons section founded by Dimitris Eipides will be replaced by a category called “Independence Days” for films from around the world. At the conference, Contis reports, “It’s a festival of new creators and new creations,” noted Greek-French actor Georges Corraface, the festival’s new president, who replaced Pantelis Voulgaris, who replaced Theo Angelopoulos, all in a matter of months….With regard to local film, Mouzaki (who is also a film producer) said, “A festival can’t solve the problems of a national cinema, but it can showcase talent.” (The dismissed Angeloupolos was out talking to students, Katherimerini reports: “The young filmmakers asked Angelopoulos [about digital and other new formats]. “We see a film through our own eyes, which are our internal gaze… If we manage to communicate, then that is a small miracle. That is the only reason I love movie theaters.” As for the Festival who no longer wanted him, the veteran director says, “I cannot accept the compromise that the Thessaloniki Film School has turned into. In my opinion it is a mistake, caused by the previous and the current governments.” [Photo of the Olympion Theatre interior by Ray Pride.]

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon