18th Athens International Film Festival

It is time for the annual pilgrimage to the Athens International Film Festival and this short post is a brief description of the films one has the chance to watch this week in the 5 movie-theaters hosting the festival's projections. For a complete guide to the festival visit the official site and  also check out the Festival's Facebook page.

Official poster of the 18th Athens International Film Festival

The popular "Music & Film" segment will give you the chance to watch films on Bob Marley, Neil Young, Andrew Bird, 1970's disco, former French pop idol Claude Fran├žois, hip-hop's L.A. scene and more.

There are 9 movie premieres (at least for the Greek market), including Walter Salles' "On the Road" (based on Jack Kerouac's novel),  David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis starring Robert Pattinson and 4 films, from various countries, that touch on the Greek economic crisis. 
There are short films (Greek and international), and a Panorama of films from seemingly all over the world.

Another popular part is the Midnight segment, featuring all kinds of horror movies with sleepwalking cannibals, undead vermin, invading aliens, terrorizing gangs and invisible spirits. Mua-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!

Feature films in the Competition segment will present you with a Cuban trying to flee to the US, a Bulgarian trying to do the inverse and go back to her native Bulgaria, the real-life story of an Asian-American being held hostage by a sex-trafficking gang and a humongous body-builder in a surprisingly similar situation, being manipulated by his mom.

Tickets are priced at 6€ and you should buy them beforehand since they tend to go out very fast and many projections are sold-out. A good idea, if you can make it fit with the rest of your schedule, is to go to one of the morning screenings "for the press". The ticket is cheaper (at 4€) and you don't have to worry about the screening being sold-out. Just try to arrive 15-20 minutes before the start. It always makes my day when I attend one of these morning screenings as it makes me feel like part of a select group. You know... the kind who can watch movies at 11:00am or 1:00pm on a weekday and be masters of their own time!

The festival runs till September 30, 2012. The 5 movie-theaters hosting the festival's screening are Odeon Opera 1, Odeon Opera 2, and Ideal (at Athens city center) and Danaos 1, Danaos 2 (at the Ambelokipoi neighbourhood). You can see a map with their locations below.

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A Beer Festival in Athens

I often wish I could write with a constant enthusiastic tone about places and events in this city. Most travel bloggers and writers seem to feel it’s their duty to be in a continuous state of admiration no matter what they write about. However I’ve made a very simple pledge for this blog, and that is to represent reality as faithfully as possible and to help separate the sheep from the goats. So, in this respect, this is post on the annual beer fest of Faliro is as much about …goats, as it is about beer!
"Giorti Biras" (Beer Fest) at the Athens suburb of Faliro

There is only one beer festival in the Athens area that has been running for 11 years now and that is the Beer Fest (Giorti Biras) taking place next to the “Peace and Friendship Stadium” at the coast of Faliro. The “Beer Fest” is nothing like what a beer enthusiast, used to attending beer festivals, might expect. No brewery stands, no tasting sessions, no industry news, events or discussions. In other words, no respect for beer!

The space itself used for the festival is an area very close to the coast (but with no view to the sea), full of sand, dust and cement and surrounded by rubble and a major artery leading to the coast. You pay around 8-10€ (depending on day and year) for admission to the grounds.

What you get is a number of tents rented mostly by local beer restaurants and beer distributors / importers, food stalls, with their characteristic smell of grilled meat, serving the beer restaurants’ usual fare (fries, sauerkraut, onion rings, sausages and other meat cuts) and a music stage with various local musicians (each day different names; different styles of music are mixed within the same day). In between them, there’s a large area of tables, chairs and benches where you can take your food and listen to the music. Beer is served in plastic cups…
Greek Dance troop at the annual beer fest, 2012

Greek band on the stage

People start rolling in at around 8 in the evening and the whole thing lasts till about 1:00 to 2:00am each night.

So, why would a foreign visitor go to this Athens Beer Fest? Simply, for an easy-going, beer-themed, night out, which would be somewhat different from going to a restaurant. Also, for the opportunity to try out a few of the Greek beers currently in the market as well as some other (mostly European: German, Russian, Belgian, British) beers available in the Greek market that may not be available where you live.
Pork bits cooked in a large frying-pan

Baltika (Russian beer) bottles
Fridges with Greek beer brands (Ionian, Piraiki and Volkan)

Grilled meat and tents
Sausages, fries, sauerkraut, mustard and onion rings...

An Athens' beer restaurant's stand

People sitting on the benches and drinking beer 

People sitting on the benches and drinking beer , with highway in the backgroun.

Prices: Beers cost 1.60€ / 330ml or more (that was the lowest price I noticed this year) – mostly 3€ and up
Time / Duration: Approximately first two weeks of September. From 7:00pm to 1:30am (in 2012, it lasted from Aug.31 to Sep.12).
Location: See map below. Almost(?) everybody goes there by car as the space is not easily accessible. If you insist on public transit go to the "Faliro"/"Peace and Friendship Stadium" Metro station (Line 1) and from there carefully cross the underground pass to go towards the Stadium and then to the left where you'll spot the festival's tents.

View Faliro - Annual Beer Fest map in a larger map

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