The Thessaloniki Film Festival (Nov 2-11) has been forced to cancel this year’s cash prizes for its Alexander Awards as a result of the extended budget cuts. The winners will be honored but the awards will only be of spiritual value.
Of course, this comes as part of the deepening Greek financial crisis as well as the uncertainties concerning the future of our country. The Greek Film Centre is practically in a standstill production state, with the Thessaloniki Festival being only one of the many affected by the crisis.
The Golden Alexander for the best film had already been cut to €20,000 from €40,000 in 2010, while the silver was reduced from €25,000 to €10,000 and the bronze was steady at €5,000.
Festival director Dimitris Eipides was forced to take these actions not only because of the general financial crisis, but also debts of more than €6m inherited by past festival administrations when he took his duties back in 2010.
Eipides and his general coordinator Lena Ramou have managed to reduce the debt to €1.5-€2 million in just two years, bringing the operating costs to a minimum while maintaining the festival’s international prestige.
The event has managed to survive since 2010 thanks to the equally reduced sponsorship in services from local enterprises and organizations, and mainly from the funds made available since 2011 by the European Union through the NSRS (National Strategic Refererence Framework) program.
Those funds applied to the side sections of the event are expected to allow the festival to remain operating till November 2013.
NSRS cash allocated to the November event amounts to approximately €900,000 yearly. The festival budget has been reduced to €1.5-€2 million. As for the March documentary event, the EU scheme funds allocated are to the tune of €400,000 for a budget of €700,000-€1 million. An additional subsidy from the Media program backing European film festivals is made available to Thessaloniki. This year it amounts to €60,000.