The curtain fell on the 14th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Images of the 21st Century with a sparse Closing Ceremony on Saturday, March 17, 2012. The editions awards were handed out during the Ceremony.
The evening began by saxophone player Theofilos Sotiriadis playing Grab it, providing a special musical hue to the event. Then, Mr. Dimitri Eipides, Director of Thessaloniki International Film Festival and the TDF stepped to the podium and gave a brief accounting of this year’s edition: "At the beginning of this festival I mentioned that our objective has always been the viewer. We want to fill the cinemas because today we need documentaries more than ever. And we achieved this objective. Viewers flooded the Festival’s cinemas, over 50,000 of them! This for us is the biggest and most meaningful. "
Mr. Eipides added: "Over the past ten days we watched 190 films from 41 countries. We shared human moments, we were moved, informed, and had the intellectual and spiritual limits of our world expanded. Our expectations regarding Greek documentaries, whose presence grows stronger every year, were proven right. We were connected through live streaming with Corfu, Rethymno, Heraklion, Patras and Nicosia, where the audience watched the films in the 20:20 zone of the Olympion at the same time as the audience in Thessaloniki, and followed the presentations of guest directors as well as participating in discussions with the filmmakers. In the Doc Market section we welcomed representatives from major TV channels and networks and, as always, through the Pitching Forum we organize in collaboration with the European Documentary Network EDN we helped achieve partnerships and co-productions the results of which I hope to see in our program in coming years. I believe we have achieved some of our goals. And, of course, the effort will continue in the future. At this point, I would like to thank my colleagues, and the volunteers who worked so hard in order to make this edition so successful. And, of course, all those who supported us: The Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Minister Pavlos Geroulanos personally, the Municipality of Thessaloniki, ERT, ERT-3, the MEDIA program, and of course the European Union and NSRF. I would also like to thank all the sponsors and supporters of the festival. And for this evening, director Lena Petropoulou and presenter Themis Veleni. We are renewing our rendezvous for the 15th Festival to be held March 22 to 31, 2013. "
The meeting out of the 14th TDF awards followed immediately afterwards. The first award the Amnesty International award for the best film in the "Human Rights" section of the festival. This year's committee consisted of Amnesty International representatives Irini Tsolaki, Katerina Kalogera, Maro and Marianna Savvopoulou Leontaridou as well as journalist Sotiris Danezis. Irini Tsolaki, vice president of the Greek Section of Amnesty International came to the stage to announce the award winner and the Committee’s deliberations: "Six years under house arrest. Twenty years of being deprived of his rights. He was banned from leaving the country, from having any contact with the media and from making any films. And all this because in his films he complained about the authoritarian regime of Iran. Amnesty International gathered 21,000 signatures to defend him. This is the Iranian director Jafar Panahi. This year's Human Rights award is given to the documentary This Is Not A Film by Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb. "
The WWF award for the best film in the Habitat section was given to the film Vivan las Antipodas! by Victor Kosakofski. This year's jury consisted of WWF members Vellidis George, Maria Livanos and Panayiotis Frantzis. The latter gave out the award, and wished the festival “see you again next year, once again with jam packed cinemas”.
Then the ERT3 award for best television documentary in the Habitat section was given out. This year's jury consisted Siomou Thomas (journalist), Fanny Toupalgiki (producer) and Evdokia Papadimitriou (director). Representing the broadcaster, filmmaker George Botsios noted, among other things, the support of ERT3 through sponsorship for 12 documentaries on Thessaloniki, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the liberation of the city. The ERT3 award was given ex aequo to the films Expropriation by Manos Papadakis and A Few Brave People by Rüya Arzu Köksal. The award is accompanied by a prize of 1,500 Euros for each film. Director Manos Papadakis was present and received his prize.
The ERT «Doc on Air» award, for best project in the Pitching Forum of the European Documentary Network EDN, which is accompanied by a prize of 7,000 Euros was given out. The award was announced by Lambis Tagmatarhis, CEO of ERT, who commented on the contribution of Greek state television to Greek cinema: “It is with great pleasure that I announce that this year ERT has set aside more than 3 million Euros for local cinema. What we do, is give back the money the Greek people pay to ERT, to cinema production in our country, an industry that is nicely evolving at a good rate and that looks optimistic. Public television participated in the 14th TDF with 26 films, and for the first time with a series of films – Mikropolis (Small Towns) and Meeting With Remarkable People – and with co-productions on documentaries such as The World’s First Computer and Sayome which are another venture for us to open up new pathways. We gave as much money this year as the last, an important fact given the condition of the country”. He added: “Only the documentary can give us so many magical moments and images, taking us from the bowels of the earth in Bolivia to the brothels of Thailand and the musical communities of Italy right up to the Small Towns of Athens. Then Mr. Tagmatarhis gave the ERT “Doc on Air” award to the project My Journey to Meet You, directed by Marco Simon Puccioni and produced by Simone Catania /Indyca. The director received the award and stated: “I thank Thessaloniki first of all, then the EDN, and of course the 14th TDF. I believe this award is an encouragement to us to continue this project, something we believe is important, given that we want to help society understand the changes that will determine our future.”
The FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) award was then given. Boyd Van Hoeij was Jury President this year, and members were Minou Moshiri, Necati Sonmez, Guilhem Caillard and Stratos Kersanidis. Mr. Van Hoeij thanked the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival and Mr. Eipides, praising the high quality of the films which made the Jury’s task more difficult. Mr. Kersanidis said: “This year's Documentary Festival once again confirmed that the institution gets stronger year by year and I hope it will continue to do so." He announced the FIPRESCI award for best Greek film, given to the documentary Sayome by Nikos Dayandas. Explaining the Jury’s decision he said: "The award is given to a sensitive and intelligent testimony to one of the most contemporary and serious issues in modern Greece: immigration. Building bridges between two cultures that seem very different from each other, the film depicts the life of an extraordinary woman, impressing the jury with the deep respect and admiration shown by this talented filmmaker." Receiving the award, Nikos Dayandas said: "I want to thank so many people, because a documentary is nothing other than people. So I thank the photographer of the film Stelios Apostolopoulos, the editor Nikos Vavouris, producers Rea Apostolides and Yuri Averof, the people at the Anemon company for everything, my whole family because they participated in the film and first and foremost Sayome and Manolis, her husband, for the confidence they showed in me. "
Then Mr. Van Hoeij announced the FIPRESCI award for best foreign film, as well as the Jury’s reasoning: “the award goes to Canicula by Jose Alvarez, a lyrical and cinematic impression of a marginalized culture. Penetrating the daily life of the Totonak people through close ups and sounds, and with admirable narrative constraint, the film exposes the usual and less usual aspects of this ancient civilization”. Jose Alvarez said: “I thank you very much for this recognition, and much more so because it comes from a country which for centuries has been has been offering many things, not least of which, beauty. I am very happy to have brought this Mexican treasure to Greece and I thank you very much for having admired it and most of all for giving it distinction. After all, this film is about these people, these women and children who live so close to death and war. I thank the festival very much, its people and the jury.”
The 14th TDF award ceremony concluded with the four audience awards for Greek and foreign documentaries over 45 minutes. Eyal Sivan, honored guest of the 14th TDF took to the podium, first making a small introduction: “What has been happening for a week now is that I am receiving honors, and the time has come for me to reciprocate. First of all I would like to thank Mr. Eipides, just for existing, as I said in the Master Class I gave the other day, as well as the organizers of the Tribute to my work and most of all the subtitlers, since I know how difficult it is to put subtitles on my films. I also thank the festival’s volunteers and of course, the audience. If this is an audience in a time of crisis, then I am for crises”.
The prize for a foreign film under 45' went to ORA by Philippe Baylaucq. The director received the award from the Honorary Consul of Canada Mr. Pantelis Petmezas who, after declaring that he is proud of behalf of the country "which has once again had one of its directors given an award by the Greek public," passed on Mr. Baylaucq’s message of thanks: "I wish I could be with you in Greece! I am very proud and happy of this award since it comes from you, the public. This distinction tells me that despite of the difficult times your country is going through, the celebration of culture is more alive than ever, that your desire for innovation, adventure and risk is vivid. I feel it is a distinct honor and I am grateful that my film has attracted your interest. On behalf of the National Film Board of Canada and all my colleagues, I thank you for acknowledging our work. "
Best foreign production for a film over 45’ was Italy: Love It or Leave It by Gustav Hofer and Luca Ragazzi. Producer of the film Vania Del Borgo received the award and stated: I am very honored to receive this award, especially at this festival, which screens the highest level of films." She read the directors’ message of thanks to the public: "We are very pleased to receive this award, but we are also sad that we are not with you. We believe that Italy and Greece are two countries that share much in common, a glorious past and an uncertain future. With our film we tried to present who, through their daily lives try to do something that will change our future. We hope they are an inspiration to everyone."
The award for best Greek film under 45’, went to The Blind Fisherman by Stratis Vogiatzis and Thekla Malamou. Ms Malamou stated: “This distinction is very encouraging for us, because Stratis and I are preparing to take a journey across Greece, aiming to bring other human stories to the fore" while she also warmly thanked the main character, Mr. Yannis for “for the wonderful journey that has taken us on." Mr. Vogiatzis noted that the film began "as a joke, with virtually no production, but having the aura of a man who accepts the tragedy of his situation, while simultaneously celebrating it. In the times we live in, we need more people like Mr. Yannis”.
Finally the award for best Greek film over 45’ went to the film Encardia, the Dancing Stone by Angelos Kovotsos. Receiving his award, the director noted: “I thank the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival very much, everyone who worked in it, Festival Director Mr. Dimitri Eipides, all my colleagues, producer Yorgos Poulidis, editor Fanny Ziozia, sound technician Paschalis Kolentsis and of course Encardia, without whom the film could not have been made, as well as the Ioannis F. Kostopoulos foundation which supported us as much as possible. But most of all I would like to thank my fellow documentary makers who are struggling, under very harsh conditions, to make films themselves, and open a window on the world, something which needs to be encouraged as much as we can”.
The evening ended with the screening of the foreign film Italy: Love it or Leave it, which won the audience award for a foreign film over 45’, while at the same time, outside the Olympion Cinema, the group Encardia created an unexpected happening with music and dancing in which the public which happened to be there participated energetically.
The 14th TDF sections Human Rights, Habitat, Views of the World, Stories to Tell, Greek Panorama and all the Greek films in the 14th TDF programme, as well as the spotlights “Meetings with Remarkable people”, «Docville», the Tributes to Aggelos Abazoglou and Eyal Sivan as well as the exhibition “Urban Survivors – Surviving in the World’s Slums” are funded by the European Union - European Regional Development Fund under the Central Macedonia ROP 2007-2013.