The curtain fell on the 15th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Images of the 21st Century with the closing ceremony that took place on Saturday, March 23, 2013. The awards of the festival’s 15th edition were presented during the ceremony.
Mr. Dimitri Eipides, Director of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival and the TDF, opened the ceremony: "Another edition of the Documentary Festival has come to an end. Our Festival has kept developing and redefining itself throughout the fifteen years of its existence. The documentary is a powerful weapon in the hands of skilled filmmakers. It can encourage and raise the audience’s awareness. It is also a political act -a type of activism. From the begininning, the Festival has been audience-centered. The Festival has a strong following, consisting of those who were quick to grasp the importance of documentaries. We are very happy with audience attendance, since most of the screenings were sold-out. For us, this is the greatest reward”.
Mr. Eipides then expressed his thanks to his associates, to the volunteers who worked so hard in order to make this edition so successful, and to all those “who stood beside us”, including the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Municipality of Thessaloniki and mayor Yiannis Boutaris, the Greek state broadcaster ERT and its Northern Greece channel ET3, the MEDIA program, and of course the European Union and NSRF . Mr. Eipides concluded: “Let us meet again in Athens, at the Greek Film Archive, from the 28th of March to the 7th of April, for the fascinating journey provided by the tribute to the Festival’s 15-year history. And of course I am expecting everyone to join us next March for the 16th edition of the Festival”.
After Mr. Eipides’s speech, the15th TDF awards were presented. The first one was 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 Savvopoulou and Marianna Leontaridou. Irini Tsolaki, vice president of the Greek Section of Amnesty International, announced that the award went to the film Call me Kuchu by Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall. She explained the rationale behind the committee’s choice: “This award wishes to highlight the work of a very important gay-rights activist, David Cato, whose murder was condemned by Amnesty International. Homosexuals enjoy virtually no rights in Africa, and we wanted to raise this issue in societies unfamiliar with the problem”.
The WWF award for the best film in the Habitat section was given to the film Little Land by Nikos Dayandas. This year's jury consisted of WWF members Yorgos Vellidis, Iason Kantas and Constantinos Liarikos. The award was present by the head of Energy Policy for WWF Greece, Mihalis Prodromou, who said: “We often hear about viability and sustainable development; Little Land is a film exactly about how to live in harmony with nature, with our fellow human beings, and about how we can rationally use the resources of this planet”. In his award acceptance speech, the director said: “I am happy that my film was included in the Habitat section, despite the fact that it is not only about the environment, but also about the relationship of man with other people and with time. I would like to believe in a different future, and I think we managed to give a hint of this future in the film. I would like to dedicate the award to all the films participating in this year’s Festival, because I know very well that they were made by people who love and feel passionate about what they do. I realize more and more that the documentary is becoming the only mirror left, allowing us to see ourselves for what we really are. I hope the documentary genre survives, that ERT continues to support it and that my colleagues keep up their fine work”.
The ET3 (Greek Public Television) Broadcasting Award in the Habitat Section was presented next. This year's jury consisted of ET3 film directors and consultants. The jury chose the films Little Land by Nikos Dayandas and Winter Nomads by Manuel von Stürler. The award is accompanied by a prize of 1,500 Euros for each film. Both winning films will run on ET3. Representing the broadcaster, Grigoris Tsokas presented the award and noted: “Crisis or no crisis, the Documentary Festival celebrates its 15th anniversary. ET3 has been a faithful companion in this journey, providing financial support and awards, as we are doing today. This is a special year for ET3, as our channel produced at least six of the documentaries screened”. Nikos Dayandas took the opportunity of this second award to express his thanks to his team in Anemon Productions, to “Stelios, Rhea, Yuri, Leonidas, Electra and Danae: we are all a family and this award goes to all of you”.
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 next. The award was presented to the project Playing with Fire, directed by Anneta Papathanassiou and produced by Photini Economopoulou. ERT chairman Nikos Tellis presented the award, saying: “I am proud that the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival has had such a successful 15-year run, during which it has conquered not only the hearts of the city’s audience, but also a place among the three most prestigious European documentary festivals. ERT vows to continue supporting the Festival - it is our duty to do so. The arts and the cinema are the oxygen of society, and they need support, especially in hard times like these”. Anneta Papathanassiou remarked: “I would like to thank ERT for the cash prize, which is very important to us, and also the EDN, which makes us better filmmakers through its seminars and forum. I hope we are able to continue producing decent documentaries in the future”. Photini Economopoulou expressed her wish that “ERT continues offering this award, that the ‘Doc on Air’ prospers and that independent documentaries find their rightful place”.
For the first time, this year’s festival edition presented a Docs in Progress award for an entry at the Agora section of the festival, which is accompanied by the provision of post-production services worth 15,000 euros by the company Authorwave. The jury, consisting of Flora Gregory, Ariana Meindana and Jan Röfekamp, chose to award the film Aunty by Manu Gerosa and Salva Muñoz. Authorwave’s Panos Bisdas presented the award commenting: “I am glad to see the state helping out, but we, the private sector, are also here to support people who want to do something different”. In his acceptance speech, Munoz thanked the Festival for the opportunity to present the film in Thessaloniki, while Gerosa, after thanking the jury, the organizers and the audience, commented: “This was the first time we showed parts of our film to an audience and a jury, so we couldn’t have dreamt of a better premiere. I would like to thank my mother and my aunt, whose lives we have been following for so long”.
The FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) award was bestowed next by the Federation’s president, Peter Wintonick. This year’s jury consisted of Wintonick, Kirsten Kieninger, Alberto Castellano and Nikos Tsagarakis. Mr. Wintonick said: “I have known Dimitri Eipides for 35 years and I believe he is one of the most accomplished people in the sector. Thanks a lot, Dimitri. I would also like to thank all the people who worked for the Festival’s 15th edition. I am fortunate to have followed the TDF since its inception, and I can now attest to the fact that, despite all the difficulties and challenges, the Festival’s audience, as well as the Greek and international documentary sector, have grown. I also wish to express my thanks to the hard-working film critics for meticulously watching the films and selecting the best ones. I would also like to thank FIPRESCI, the Greek Film Critics Association, and the respective associations of Italy, Germany and Quebec, where I come from”. Mr. Wintonick announced that the winner of the FIPRESCI award for a film in the International selection went to Parts of a Family by Diego Gutiérrez. Explaining the jury rationale, Mr. Wintonick said: “This is an account of an elderly couple, locked into fifty years of a once-loving marriage behind the bars of upper middle-class affluence in an isolated villa in Mexico City. They share a home but not their lives. As their marriage disintegrates before the camera of their filmmaker son, each copes with alienation on their very own terms. This is a cinematically distinct study of a strangling relationship that was once called love”. Harmen Jalvingh, a co-producer of the film, received the award on behalf of the filmmaker and read a message from Gutiérrez: “Thank you all so much for allowing me to be part of this Festival. This award is a great honor. I was also honored to attend the Festival, walk in this city and taste its wonderful cuisine. It has also been an honor to work with such remarkable people and come close to others like you, my friends and my family. It makes me feel I am not alone”.
Jury member Nikos Tsagarakis presented the FIPRESCI award for a film in the Greek section to They Glow in the Dark by Panayotis Evangelidis, explaining the jury’s rationale: “The prize for best Greek documentary goes to a poignant, touching, humorous, and multi-layered account of a thing called Life. It’s narrative and stylistic measures avoid all the traps, stereotypical and moralistic approaches usually found in films that treat the delicate theme of omni-sexuality. This is a humanist film, set in New Orleans,that examines gay friendship, sickness, intimacy, sexual identity, poverty, companionship and ultimately, a thing called Love”. Mr. Evangelidis said in his acceptance speech: “I would like to thank the jury and the Festival, my producer Amanda Livanou, and the small team of contributors. I dedicate this award to the heroes of my film, Jim and Michael. I know they would have loved to be here - it would have been a rare chance for them to get out of the house”.
The 15th TDF award ceremony concluded with the four audience awards for Greek and foreign documentaries over 45 minutes. Marketing manager of Fischer Yorgos Makrygiannakis, who presented the awards, said: “I would like to congratulate the organizers, and particularly the volunteers, whose work is invaluable. Fischer has always supported the Festival. All films deserve our applause, for, despite the hardships, they shed light to hidden aspects of reality, they encourage us and send a sorely needed message of optimism. We would also like to thank the audience, which voted for the awards, and of course the Festival’s organizers”.
The Audience Award for a film over 45’ in the International Selection went to Blood Brother by Steve Hoover, while the Audience Award for a film under 45’ in the International Selection went to The High Price of Gold by Ross Domoney.
The Audience Award for a Greek film under 45’ was presented to Kyriaki Malama for her film A Heritage: In Deep Agony. In her acceptance speech, the director said: “I would like to express my most sincere thanks to the audience and ET3, which gives filmmakers the opportunity to make films. A good film is always based on solid contributors, so I would like to thank scriptwriter Fani Toupaligi, cinematographer Yannis Parisis, Sonia Brellou for her amazing editing, sound recorder Dimitris Kouftas and all those who took part in the production of the film”.
The award ceremony was completed with the Fischer Audience Award for a Greek film over 45’, which was bestowed to the film The Grocer by Dimitris Koutsiabasakos. The director said in his acceptance speech: “I wish to thank the audience for this great honor. I would like to dedicate this award to the population of the mountainous communities of the Pyle municipality in Trikala, who embraced the film and agreed to share with us a valuable part of their lives. As you all know, making films in Greece is becoming more and more difficult and with personal cost. For this reason, my greatest thanks goes to my collaborators, Charis Faros, Apostolis Agrogiannis and Yorgos Savoglou; without their support this film woud have never been made”.