10th Thesssaloniki Documentary Festival
Images of the 21st Century
March 7-16, 2008
The 10th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival – Images of the 21st Century began its journey on the night of Friday, March 7, in the packed Olympion Theater. The ceremony focused on the fact that this year’s edition is an anniversary, and was attended by political and academic representatives, as well as important cultural and intellectual personalities.
The ceremony was opened by the Director of the Thessaloniki International Festival, Ms Despina Mouzaki. She welcomed the audience and the official guests and stressed that this year’s festival opening is a particularly emotional moment, as it marks its 10 years of existence. “Ten years, during which the Festival achieved its goals, became a dynamic centre of progress, permitted people to discover and appreciate an important cinematic genre, created a faithful audience, gave documentary films a push to allow them to obtain theatrical release in Greece, something which, a few years ago, seemed like an impossible dream. Moreover, it opened avenues for communication between Greek and foreign directors, and a way for Greek documentaries to reach both the local and international market, mainly through the operation of the Doc Market, the third biggest genre market in Europe, and one of the largest internationally. The Doc Market has made a vital contribution to the promotion of Greek documentaries, both in terms of theatrical release, and in creating audience awareness”, Ms Mouzaki stated. However, she noted that “the successful career of the organization is not due to luck, but stems from specific and extremely significant factors: from the vision of the Festival’s Artistic Director Mr. Dimitri Eipides. From his hard work, as well as the hard work of his team. From the framework and support provided by the Thessaloniki International Festival, with its constantly increasing momentum. The practical support to and the development of the Documentary Festival has been and continues to be our priority. Today, at the beginning of its tenth edition, we commit ourselves to continue our support in the same way.”
Ms Mouzaki finished by thanking, on behalf of the Board of Directors, all the people who have contributed to the successful ten year run of the Documentary Festival, the documentary makers, the Artistic Director Mr. Dimitri Eipides, the institutional organizations of Thessaloniki, Greece and abroad who support the festival, the commercial sponsors and the audience..
Then the Artistic Director of the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, Mr. Dimitri Eipides took the stage. He briefly referred to the first edition of the Festival, in March, 1999 and compared it to today’s facts and figures, thus highlighting the success the Festival has achieved over time. “We began in 1999 with 70 films, 2 theatres, 8,000 viewers and 13 buyers, and today we have 153 films from 40 countries being screened at 6 theatres, and to 36,000 viewers. This year, 55 buyers will choose from 490 titles, while we will be welcoming some of the largest television networks and distribution companies in the world. We have broken one more record this year, with the fact that 62 films in the program will make their world, international or European premiere in Thessaloniki”, Mr. Eipides stressed. He then referred to the program, and to the extremely significant collaborations of this year’s Festival, such as with the Hellenic Red Cross, which is sponsoring the Audience Award, and ERT3, which is founding its own television broadcast award.
“We have screened a total of 1339 films in this Festival. We have welcomed 3,537 guests. We have held dozens of seminars, Master Classes and workshops. We have informed and educated people. In collaboration with ERT3, we build a school in Iran. This is the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival. This is why we all work so hard. And this is why we are celebrating its 10th birthday this year”, Mr. Eipides said.
The Mayor of Thessaloniki, Mr. Vassilis Papageorgopoulos then took the stage, declaring the opening of the 10th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival. Among other things, he said: “Over the past 10 years, the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival has become an invaluable part of the cinematic and cultural events of Thessaloniki, and more generally, our country. This year’s edition will bring images, thoughts, and the new wave of film and intellectual culture from all over the world to Thessaloniki. The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival along with the Thessaloniki International Film Festival are large, valuable windows on the world, which must be kept open at all costs.”
Then the Director of Cinema and Audiovisual Media of the Ministry of Culture, Ms Dimitra Argyrou, read a greeting from the General Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Mr. Thodoris Dravilas. “It is with great pleasure that I salute the opening of the 10th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, which this year completes 10 years of creative existence and progress in the international festival firmament. A journey which has united the paths of Greek and foreign film makers, which has given Greek documentaries the opportunity to travel internationally, which has brought the Greek audience in contact with the most fertile and cutting edge productions this particular film genre has to offer. In ten years, the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival has highlighted multi-faceted sociopolitical phenomena that have marked the beginning of the 21st century. It has made us participants in cultural, social and human stories that are taking place in far away places, but have a universal importance and dimension. In this year’s anniversary edition, the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival – Images of the 21st Century is continuing this demanding work with undiminished enthusiasm, and the same devotion, having the city of Thessaloniki by its side, the city that has been and continues to be the nucleus and the heart of this organization. We wish the best success to the Festival and its people, and we invite the audience to share the strongest images of the 21st century with it”, Mr. Dravilas said in his greeting.
Then the baton was passed on to Ms Lydia Carras, director of the opening film of this year’s edition : My Life and Times– Michael Cacoyiannis. Ms Carras spoke of her meeting Michael Cacoyiannis, and of the strong friendship that exists between them. She also spoke of the challenges she faced in filming such an important personality. Immediately following her speech, she accepted the special Lifetime Achievement Award granted to Mr. Cacoyiannis by the Festival, on his behalf. Mr. Cacoyannis addressed the audience himself, via video: “I am truly sorry not to have been able to accept the invitation to be at the opening of the Festival, which year by year has gained international fame. I am very flattered that my presence was chosen to open this year’s edition. I hope my friend Lydia Carras' film receives the response deserved by a film that has been chosen as the opening film.”
Just before the lights dimmed for the film’s screening, a dance event staring the dancer Elias Tsakonas, choreographed by Olga Deliaki, and produced and directed by ART CUT, introduced the viewers to the magical world of Michael Cacoyiannis.