Culture and art

Culture and Art

Literary exchanges

Besides being a centre of business contacts, Thessaloniki has the image of significant place closely linked with the traditions of Greek book and its dialogue with the world literature works. The International Book Fair Scripta was established in (2004) and is held in May every year; it is a unique event for the country. Its aim is to put Greece on the map of the similar international book fairs. Scripta was widely recognized as a forum for intensive communication of authors coming from Europe, the Balkans, the Mediterranean area and the Near East (in 2006 the Book Fair became a member of the International Fair Club in which the Frankfurt International Book Fair has a leading part). The event is located in HELEXPO and every year there is a specific thematic accent – ‘political writing’, ‘historical novels’, ‘comics & poster’, ‘the art of translation’ which according to Umberto Eco is ‘the language of Europe’.

The International Book Fair popularizes the Greek spiritual and literature traditions but at the same time it is a wonderful place for promoting of foreign authors too. Within the Thessaloniki Fair were presented as ‘countries in focus’ Russia (2016), Israel (2014), Serbia (2012), the countries from the Maghreb and the Near East (2011) and etc. Bulgaria has been presented through a collective exhibition, participations of Bulgarian writers (D. Kirkov, N. Stoyanov), poets (S. Choleva, P. Nikolova, J. Eftimov) and translators involved in symposiums or workshops on translation. However, it is unexplainable the absence of Bulgaria during the recent years. Regardless of whether there is a problem in coordinating of the strategies between state institutions and publishing houses or some poor financial circumstances, the lack of Bulgarian bookstall is evident and this plight should be changed. Fortunately this situation does not a serious obstacle Bulgarian writers and poets to create and present their works in Thessaloniki and authors from the city to find inspiration in subjects connected with Bulgaria and Bulgarians.

International Film Festival

The Thessaloniki International Film Festival /Φεστιβάλ κινηματογράφου Θεσσαλονίκης/ is one of the most significant festivals in the Balkans that appeared in 1960 as the Week of Greek Cinema and in 1992 it turned into an international event including a competition section for full length feature movies in which participate newly emerging directors with their début or second film. Similarly to the rest regional forums that are held annually in Sarajevo, Sofia, Belgrade, Istanbul and Tirana, the Thessaloniki International Film Fest puts a heavy accent on promoting of Balkan authors and their works in the context of the world cinema achievements and trends.

Besides its main edition in November, since 1999 the Thessaloniki International Film Fest has organized in March a special edition devoted to documentary film. Currently the festival functions as a key platform for producers, distributors, filmmakers and critics and also the master classes for young talents obligatorily are designed in the schedule.

The latest success linked with a Bulgarian production is The Lesson /Urok/ by Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valtchanov who received the special jury award for originality and innovation Bronze Alexander and the best screenplay award for their first feature movie during the 55th edition in 2014.

Theatrical, dance and artistic activities

Thessaloniki is a scene of theatrical, dance and art events with international participation. In 1997 it was European city of culture and within the frames of the official programme the Sofia Opera with soloist Gena Dimitrova, the ballet Arabesk, the choir Hristina Morfova, Collegium music and other formations delivered performances. With reference to the same initiative in the city, the First Balkan forum on culture was held and its aim was to be created Balkan cultural network of the cities. Only two years later, in 1999 in Thessaloniki was organized Balkan festival of chamber theatres in which was taken a decision to be prepared a special edition devoted to the history of Balkan theatre.

Bulgarian artists often participate in the variety of events in Thessaloniki and they make popular the folklore dances and songs, the kukers’ games and other forms of art. Bulgarian cultural legacy was presented in the city at the Festival of language diversity, the International festival of traditions, the International festival of kukers The Road of the Bells, the International folklore festival Meeting with the World Culture and etc. In 2007 in the city was realized the longest Bulgarian horo – an idea inspired by Iliya Lukov - and in this dance were included more than 500 participants.

In Thessaloniki in a charming way the exhibitions of contemporary art and photography have their key place among the museums full of unique artifacts belonging to the past. In October 2012 in the city was held Weekend of Photography with considerable Bulgarian participation (Irina Pidova; Öztürk Senay (Bulgaria/Turkey); Avela Admon). In the same year the student art festival Transform with its general topic ‘the Pandora’s box’ took place in Thessaloniki, moreover, the projects presented by Bulgarian students provoked the imagination of the city’s inhabitants and guests. The Bulgarian influence in the art circles in Thessaloniki has its long history. It is sufficient to mention the painter Mihalis Garudis who lived in Bulgaria and graduated from the National Art Academy in Sofia but since 1986 he has worked in Thessaloniki. With our country is closely connected and the painter-archon Yannis Mitrakas whose parents were born in Topolovgrad (Kavakli) and his pictures are deeply inspired by Byzantine art.