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The 15th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival – rich in ideas but poor financially

16 March 2013 / 14:03:35  GRReporter
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Films about the global economic crisis, people and their changed mentality, documentaries about the past, but also about the obliterated future - these are the 196 films that will be screened at the 15th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival. There are also films for those viewers who have the ambition of being different from “the sheep that are directed spiritually by the media” (such as the one on the organisers’ poster). The award-winning Bess Kargman’s film First Position, which describes the cruel world of classical dance, opened the festival on 15 March.

This is "the poorest of all festivals" compared to any other festival in financial terms (this year's budget amounts to 700,000 euro and is provided by the EMPA programme and EU’s Media programmes). However, this year’s documentary film festival is rich in ideas. From 15 to 24 March, the fifteenth edition will be presented in the following halls: Olympion, Pavlos Zannas, John Cassavetes, Stavros Tornes, Frida Liappa and Tonia Marketaki. The only officially invited guest of the festival, 72-year-old Chilean Patricio Guzman, will not be able to come due to an accident that has kept him in Chile.

Third in Europe

During the conference, Artistic Director of the festival Dimitri Eipides said that, for its fifteen years of existence, the festival has managed to reach third place in Europe and become one of the most important events internationally in the field of documentary filmmaking.

Cinematic library

In Thessaloniki, the biggest cinematic library in the country will be created at the Film Archive in the building of the Cinema Museum. It will contain more than 8,000 books and magazines about cinema, including the library of founder of the Thessaloniki Film Festival Pavlos Zannas, and it will be inaugurated during this year’s festival. The collection will include books about the history, theory and aesthetics of cinema, cinematic types and national cinematography, dictionaries, yearbooks, monographs of directors, biographies of actors, scenarios, Greek and foreign film magazines, etc. Part of the library's collection has already been digitised and the process is continuing with the help of the EMPA programme. The building of the library was renovated with the help of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

58 Greek productions

The festival actively supports Greek documentaries and Greek documentary directors, so that they can find their own way of expression. It also helps their presentation on the international market. Every year, the Greek presence at the festival is stronger and, this year, it will present 58 Greek films that boldly depict a reality which is converted in the whirlwind of social unrest. The festival gives an opportunity for new Greek films (made up to 18 months before the opening) to be screened in one of the halls.

Human rights

The section of the festival, entitled Human rights, is carried out in cooperation with Amnesty International and is designed to shed light on the brutal suppression of human rights. Amnesty International will award a special prize for the best film in the section for the seventh year.

Society and Environment

Apocalyptic documentaries about the tragic consequences of human impact on the environment and the price mankind pays will excite viewers. Within this section, a prize will be awarded by the committee of WWF Greece for the best film.

As every year, the main part of the festival includes the sections, ''Views of the World, Stories To Tell, Portraits: Human Journeys, Recordings Of Memory'', and from this year on, the section ''Music'' will be renamed ''Music and Dance'' and will include documentaries for both arts.

Photography Exhibition

As part of the festival’s parallel events, an exhibition of photographs entitled ''Thessaloniki 101'' will be organised from 16 to 24 March at the Contemporary Art Centre of Thessaloniki. It is organised with the support of the State Museum of Contemporary Art, The Contemporary Art Centre of Thessaloniki and the Embassy of Canada in Greece. It will include works by 14 artists, which were developed in the context of the photography workshop of the same name, held in February 2013 on the Internet by Iranian-Canadian photographer Babak Salari.

After the festival, the films will be screened in 40 cities and in 20 prisons in Greece.

Tags: Festival documentaries Thessaloniki cinematic library
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