In 1991 The Thessaloniki Greek Film Festival changed into Thessaloniki International Film Festival and this change introduces in Greece a new period of cinephilia, replacing the one domestic, politically marked and Greek-centered of the previous editions of the Festival. The Festival itself became a place of film education and promoted a completely different way to understand the word cinema, introducing films from the periphery of the world and the so-called third cinema in the centre of the audience interest. There is a very strict relationship between cinephilia and film education since the 1960s, when the germ of film literacy emerged in the explosion of “film culture”. Greek Cinemateque and Thessaloniki Film Festival are probably the two very institutions which formed the Greek audience since 1950s. Nevertheless, despite festival cinephilia seemed to be marginalized in the late 1990s debates, initiated by Susan Sontag and her article “The Decay of Cinema” and a lot of the discussions around the alleged death of cinephilia concentrated on the impact of new technologies such as video and the internet, the Festival continued not only to maintain a constant interested for the big screen but also educate the new generation on alternative ways to learning and understanding cinema presented through new technologies. In this sense the educational role of the Festival appears important as never before.
In this paper we will explore the very role of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival in maintaining the sense of cinephilia as it was formed in the past as well as its role to educate the new audience both on Greek and international cinema, in order to understand how the concept of film literacy and film literate changes under the challenges of the new digital formats in film production, which the Festival today adopts and addresses to its audience. The unabashed love of the movies becomes progressively a love of the medium of cinema, including the love of learning cinema and its new technological dimensions. Today the Thessaloniki Film Festival explores the possibility to involve new technologies in order to expand its service to a biggest part of audience and in the same time it works on film education, introducing specific programs for young people and professionals.