19th Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival
Greece, March 3 - March 12 2017
The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival (TDF) – Images of the 21st Century – is part of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival. This year it reached its 19th edition and was held 3–12 March 2017; it is one of the most important festivals in Europe for documentaries and as such, it is supported by the European Union. Both film festivals enjoy enormous interest and support from local viewers. Thessaloniki is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of Greek Macedonia. As Elise Jalladeau, the General Director of the Fest, stated: “The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival is not content to merely reflect the multiple facets of the mirror which will henceforth explode from our reality. It supports and will continue to support film directors through the changes of the sector, offering them work tools and a space for the exchange of ideas and reflection”. This year’s Documentary Festival presented approximately 213 films (shorts and features) by directors from all over the world, as well as a full parallel program of events. The Festival has six main screening halls: two in the Olympion Cinema (Olympion Theater and Ciné Pavlos Zannas) and venues at the docks (Warehouse 1 and 2) that can be exploited throughout the year.
This year for the first time the festival held an International Competition with 12 films running for the Golden Alexander and the Special Jury Award. The Golden Alexander award is accompanied with a €5,000 cash prize, sponsored by the Municipality of Thessaloniki; the Special Jury Award comes with a €2.000 cash prize, sponsored by ERT, the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation. The FIPRESCI Jury also had to give one award to a film of the International Competition section. There were many parallel sections: Greek Panorama, Human Rights, Habitat, Kaleidoscope, Cinema, Food vs. Food, Film Forward, Minorities, Memory-History, Music, Art, Docs for Kids, Short Doc Experiments Oberhausen. Moreover, the festival paid a tribute to Angela Ricci Lucchi and Yervant Gianikian, two groundbreaking alchemists of contemporary cinema. In addition, two other important tributes were paid to Vitaly Manski, acclaimed contemporary Russian documentary filmmaker and producer; and to John Berger, the famous painter, poet, novelist – just two months after his death. Finally, a cycle of ten recent documentaries (2005–2013) that had been presented in previous festival editions were shown, in a selection by Dimitri Eipides, the man who established the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival in 1999 and directed it ever since, until 2016.
In order to further increasing the importance of TDF an International Doc Market (5–11 March) took place; this had been introduced in 1999 and was held in the Byzantium hall in the Electra Palace Hotel at Aristotelous Square next to the Festival Headquarters, providing a substantial space to its participants, outfitted with 30 digital booths for private viewing. The Market caters also to television networks from European countries and a wide range of professionals from various parts of the world. The Doc Market is fully digital; all films are easily accessible in the video library.
There were numerous juries and awards. The International Jury awarded the prize for Best Documentary in the International Competition to Dream Empire by David Borenstein (Denmark), while the Special Jury Award went to Machines by Rahul Jain (India-Germany-Finland). A Special Mention was given to the film Shingal, Where are you? by Angelos Rallis (Greece- Belgium-Austria. The FIPRESCI awards for the best film of the International Competition went also to Machines. Other prizes included the “Human Values Award” by the Hellenic Parliament; the Amnesty International Award; the WWF Award; the Greek Film Critics’ Association (Pekk) Award; the Youth Jury Award; the Docs in Progress Award; and ERT S.A. Doc on Air Award.(Roberto Tirapelle, edited by Birgit Beumers)
The FIPRESCI Jury followed the “International Competition” section (while our Greek colleagues formed a jury for the national competition).