For the first time in 30 years, a Greek film won the Golden Alexander Award at the 64th Thessaloniki Film Festival. Sofia Exarchou’s film Animal took home the acclaimed award.
This is Exarchou’s second film, which premiered at the Locarno Film Festival earlier this year. The film follows the lives of dancers at an all-inclusive resort in Greece. Underneath the shiny exterior of the vacation resort lies a dark underbelly of the reality of life for the employees. The film explores existential grief and the truth behind life working in paradise.
Lead actor Dimitra Vlagopoulou, who plays Kalia in the film, also won the award for best actress at the festival. Jordan Minzter, a film critic for The Hollywood Reporter, said of Vlagopoulo’s performance, “Vlagopoulou is engrossing in a role that has her switching between scenes of onstage ebullience and others where her character clings to a life that no longer offers any fulfillment, whether sexually or professionally. Like the songs her troupe performs again and again, emptying them of their meaning the more they’re repeated, Kalia is caught in a feedback loop that will either break her or have to be broken.”
Another winner at the festival was Joana Arnow, who won best director for her debut film The Feeling That The Time For Doing Something Great Has Passed. The Best Actor award went to Kostas Koronais for his role in The Last Taxi Driver, directed by Stergios Paschos, and Best Screenplay went to Zeno Graton for his script for the movie The Lost Boys.