Greek Female-Led Folk-Horror ‘Stringa’ Scores Top Award at Thessaloniki Film Festival’s Co-Production Forum

Maria Hatzakou and Alexandra Matheou’s “Stringa,” a female-led folk-horror set in remote rural Greece, won the top prize at Thessaloniki Film Festival’s Crossroads Co-Production Forum, which wrapped with an award ceremony Wednesday.

The Greek project took home the Two Thirty-Five Co-Production Award, giving full post-production image and sound support to a film that’s in development. This will be a debut feature for Matheou and Hatzakou, who also produces the film under her label Merricat. She was the one to receive the prize from the jury, which called the project “very solid and persuasive” in the ways in which it “addresses freedom of choice in a patriarchal society.”

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The directors, who also co-wrote the script, describe it as “a film about the female experience,” a subversive horror that “touches on post-generational trauma and the sly ways by which the patriarchy still manages to impose itself on our lives and choices.” As a producer, Hatzakou has previously worked on Athina Rachel Tsangari’s “Chevalier” (Toronto, 2015) and Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Alps” (Venice, 2011).

The Onassis Film Award, a €10,000 ($10,700) prize introduced by Onassis Culture in 2021 in support of Greek cinema, went to Daniel Bolda’s “Maldives,” a fantasy drama about a music teacher who starts having visions after his dog disappears, produced by Nicholas Alavanos for Filmiki Productions. The film also won the €2,000 ($2,140) cash prize of the ERT Agora Works in Progress Award, given to a Greek project.

Writer-director duo Lida Vartzioti and Dimitris Tsakaleas won the French CNC (Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée) Development Award of €8,000 ($8,560) for script development for their debut feature “Friends, Birthdays, Murder, etc.” A slasher set in an isolated cabin, that according to the jury “sublimates the genre references with strong visuals and humor,” the film is produced by Ioanna Bolomyti of Atalante Productions. The producer is also a recipient of Thessaloniki EAVE’s Marketing Workshop Scholarship for 2024.

The Arte Kino International Prize of €6,000 ($6,400) went to “I Matter,” Alina Serban’s deeply personal feature proposal about a 19 year old Roma woman who has to juggle life in a prestigious theater school and living in an orphanage. The film will be a first directorial credit for the writer, playwright and actor Serban, and is produced by Ada Solomon of Romania’s microFILM, who is behind Radu Jude’s Locarno winner “Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World.”

The magical-realist western “Black Water” by Isabella Margara won the Finos Film award, with a cash prize of €3,000 ($3,200), for a standout Greek project, with Kyriaki Virou producing for AbFab Productions.

The Producers’ Network award offering free Marché du Film accreditation to the Cannes Film Festival in 2024 was handed to Anna Szijártó of the Hungarian Kinomoto Kft., for “Lady Sunshine,” a film by Anna Korom about an aging beautician too fond of plastic surgeries, whose life changes as she enters a talent competition. Korom, together with co-writer András Soós, also won the Mediterranean Film Institute’s Script2Film Workshops Scholarship for script development.

Writer-director Sondos Shabayek took home the Greener Screen Consultancy Award, given to encourage a film’s production in a green manner and includes a €7,000 ($7,500) cash prize, a tailored production plan, training and support. Her film “And Me Too” is produced by Seera Films’ Kesmat Elsayed.

“So the Lovers Could Come Out Again,” directed by George Peter Barbari and produced by Christelle Younes (Bee On Set Productions) won the award from Initiative Film to provide consulting services for its development strategy to a Greek project.

The Crossroads Co-Production Forum jury was comprised of Bassam Alasad, producer and managing director of Creative Media Solutions, and producers Britta Rindelaub of Alva Film and Lina Yannopoulou of Argonauts Productions.

The top prize in the Agora’s Works in Progress section was handed to the black family-centered dramedy “Happy People,” directed by Filip Peruzović and produced by Tena Gojić for Croatia’s Dinaridi Film. The film took home the Authorwave Post-Production Award offering image services in post.

The MuSou Music and Sound Award for sound and music services went to “Bonds, Roots, and Passions,” directed by Sunay Terzioğlu, and produced by Timur Harzadın of the Turkish Denge Yapim.

Israeli drama “Halisa” by director Sophie Artus and producers Yochanan Kredo and Linor Lav (July – August Productions), won the 119 Marvila Studios award for sound mixing services.

The ASTERISK* Marketing Award, offering services in key artwork, press kit content and social media, went to the Greek nautical drama “Beachcomber” from director Aristotelis Maragkos and producer Konstantinos Koukoulis for Plankton.

The Works in Progress jury consisted of Rémi Bigot, head of the film department at Semaine de la Critique; head of the Czech Film Center Markéta Šantrochová; and Anna Germanidi, director of exhibition and programming at the London-based Modern Films.

The Thessaloniki Film Festival runs Nov. 2 – 12.

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