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12 TDF: Closing Ceremony (3/21/2010)


The curtain dropped on the 12th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Images of the 21st Century on Saturday, March 20 with the Closing Ceremony, held at the Olympion cinema. Present were Artistic Director of the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival Dimitris Eipides, and the Director of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, Despina Mouzaki.

The Ceremony was hosted by member of parliament and journalist Maya Tsoclis, who opened the evening by making announcements concerning the film sector as well as the Thessaloniki International Film Festival.

Ms Tsoclis stressed that the new leadership in the Ministry of Culture is deeply aware of the problems in the Greek film industry, and noted that one of greatest priorities of the new Bill which is close to passing, is the resolution of the matter of the special tax write off, so that the largest portion of income can go to promoting film production.

She noted: “The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Images of the 21st Century has finally achieved the self-sufficiency it always sought. It is free of the State Awards, something that was always desired by filmmakers as well as the Festival organizers, and now has a new, strengthened substance, of course as a member of the same Organization.”

Then Ms Tsoclis spoke about the Greek Film Center: “Not only is it not being closed, it is being restructured so that the finances it manages and there can be better money management so that it can play an important role through all the stages of our film production”, she noted, adding that in the new tax Bill of the Ministry of Finance which will be voted on, there are significant developmental motivators for investment in film production. Ms Tsoclis called the Documentary Festival an “example to imitate”, as it takes place with minimal financial means and manages to be the third most important festival in Europe, adding that it proves that “the imposed austerity measures of today can’t stop impassioned efforts”. She also mentioned that “through its Festivals, Thessaloniki has become a real center of attraction which has not been fully exploited yet”, and expressed the hope for a more active participation of local authorities and the city’s business community. “The best example of participation is given by the volunteers, which this year were 165, giving a strong message to other cultural organizations who should inspire and use every available offer”. Regarding the 12th edition of the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Images of the 21st Century, Ms Tsoclis noted that it has been particularly successful, an element of hope in such difficult times for the country.

Dimitri Eipides, Artistic Director of the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Images of the 21st Century welcomed the invited guests saying: “All these years our final assessments have been celebratory, and the same thing will happen this year. It is customary on this night to announce numbers which will astound with the increase they show: more viewers, more films, events, a Festival which is growing successfully. This year we will begin with a number that decreased, money. The Festival began as an experiment, and has always been held in a spirit of economy. The crucial economic developments in our country led us to cut down our already limited budget even further. The success of the Festival came out of the collective work of young people who give all their time and effort for the success of the Festival. As citizens of this country we are willing to make any sacrifice for the betterment of our land. What I could not stand were the redundancies. I don’t want these people to lose their jobs. We will stay together, we will withstand all cutbacks but we will remain a family and continue our work. So let’s hope there are better days in the future for our Festival, and most of all for our country”. Mr. Eipides noted that the 12th Festival was surprisingly successful, and said that this year’s edition included 189 films from 42 countries, three Tributes, two Exhibitions, two Conferences, two workshops. 11 films were screened at the special children’s zone, watched by a total of 2,000 students. The 12th TDF audience reached 45,000 people, a 10% increase from last year. At the same time, the Doc Market became completely digital, a development that doubled the number of viewings, from 1,800 last year to 3,000 this year. Mr. Eipides also mentioned that the Festival’s two year effort to establish two scholarships in collaboration with the Ministry of Citizen Protection finally came to fruition. “This way, every year two children studying at the Cross-Cultural Thessaloniki High School will have the chance to study at IEK ACME and receive financial help”, he said, publicly thanking the deputy minister of the Ministry of Citizen Protection Spyros Vougias. Finally, he thanked all those who helped make the Festival, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Citizen Protection, the municipality of Thessaloniki, the Greek Film Center, the Hellenic Red Cross, ERT, ERT3, the MEDIA Programme, the Festival’s sponsors, as well as the directors and producers who entrusted their work, his collaborators, and the audience about which he noted: “You are the power behind the Festival”.

The 12th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival Awards Ceremony followed.

The Amnesty International Award for best film dealing with human rights issues was given to Petition by Zhao Liang. The jury consisted of Maro Savopoulou, Irini Tsolaki and Marianna Leontaridou as well as journalists Sotiris Danezis and Pavlos Nerantzis. Ms Tsolaki mentioned that “violations of social, financial, and cultural rights go together with violations of political and individual rights. States lead people to poverty and whoever dares raise a voice faces persecution torture and death. We are talking about the country of trade and silk, the super power who is supported by international financial interests, China.“

The WWF Award for best film dealing with environmental issues was given to The Last Days Of Shishmaref by Jan Louter. The jury consisted of Thanassis Kaprulias, Iason Candas and Yorgos Vellidis. Mr. Vellidis noted that the film: “presents the unbreakable relationship between man and nature, and that even today there are societies which coexist harmoniously with nature. There is a large irony in the documentary, about a society that respects the environment and contributes minutely or not at all to climate change, but will be the one that the first climate refugees will come from

The ERT3 Broadcasting Award in the “Planet in Peril” section was given to the film The Mermaid's Tears: Oceans Of Plastic by Sandrine Feydel. The Award is accompanied by a cash prize of 3,000 Euros. The jury consisted of Nelli Zika, Yorgos Botsos and Lazaros Lazaridis. Anastasios Spiliotopoulos, President of the Governing Council of ERT3 gave out the award and said: “ERT3, true to its mission as a public audiovisual medium has embraced culture. It believes and invests in this important film genre. It has supported the institution of the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival from its inception to today because it believes in promoting Thessaloniki as the cultural metropolis of the wider area”.

The Doc On Air Award instituted last year by ERT for the best Pitching Forum Project was given to Myrto Papadogeorgou for the film Life in a City Full of Error. The Pitching Forum aims to support documentary projects in the development stage who are seeking co-producers and financing. The ERT Award is accompanied by a cash prize of 7,000 Euros. Irini Gavala, Head of the International Co-Production section of ERT gave out the award and said that the jury which is constituted by Pitching Forum tutors decided to give the award to a young director who approaches the crisis in a different way. “If we want to change the world we have to begin with ourselves and create a domino. We chose this project because it will become a brave film from a new generation with a good sense of humor. Out of the 130 films sent to the EDN, 21 are being presented to the Thessaloniki Pitching Forum and my colleagues in the jury chose a Greek director, Myrto Papadogeorgou”. The director thanked EDN and the jury for the support they have given her in her lonely creative path.

Then the FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) Awards were given out. Members of the jury were Pamela Bienzobas, Chile, Anne Brunswic, France, Seray Genc, Turkey and Venia Vergou, Greece. The FIPRESCI award for a film in the International selection was given to the film TO SHOOT AN ELEPHANT by Alberto Arce and Mohammad Rujailah. Ms Bienzobas explained that “it was an irritating and provocative cry for help which brings the viewer to the same state of emergency the filmmakers were in”. Mr. Rujailah was to visit the Festival, but he was not permitted to travel from Spain, where he is a political refugee from Palestine. In the greeting he sent he said: “The film presents reality in Gaza in a time when the word crisis is widely used both in Gaza and in Europe. The film records a small part of reality, which comes from ignorance of the humanitarian crisis, the result of a savage war that is still going on today”. About the Award’s significance he said: “Unfortunately, our film is winning awards at a time when those people who have lost their loved ones live the same reality in different ways. This award means that you want to know. You are most probably shocked by the film, but in a little while you’ll return to your own reality with a glass of wine, a plate of mousaka, a kataifi. Thank you for sharing the pain and anguish of people who in spite of living all of that continue to smile”. The FIPRESCI prize for a Greek production was given to Wandering Soul by Angeliki Aristomenopoulou. As Venia Vergou said the film is essentially “a meeting with a fascinating artist in the place and time of the social, musical and natural landscape of Greece”. The director thanked her colleagues Yannis Angelakas and the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival.

Then Spyros Vougias, Deputy Minister of Citizen Protection took the podium. Before giving out the Hellenic Red Cross Award for foreign film, he spoke about the institution of the scholarships to immigrants, saying that besides political decisions, such as the giving of Greek citizenship, small, everyday decisions are also needed in order to assimilate immigrants into Greek society. “I hope that in a few years we will see some of the films of the scholarship winners at the Festival”. Speaking about the institution of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, Mr. Vougias noted that it would be good to not only speak of the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival but also of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival with which, as he said, we have all grown up. He stressed the importance of supporting it, from its volunteers to its directors, past and present, from Michel Demopoulos and Theo Angelopoulos to Despina Mouzaki and Georges Corraface, as well as the people who will be with it for the next fifty years. “The Festival needs Thessaloniki and Thessaloniki needs the Festival”, he said.

The Hellenic Red Cross Audience Award for a film under 45’ in the International Selection, accompanied by 2,000 Euros was given to
Odysseas by Vahagn Karapetyan. The Award for a foreign film over 45’ in the International Selection accompanied by 4,000 Euros was given to Eyes Wide Open - Exploring Today's South America by Gonzalo Arijon.

The President of the Hellenic Red Cross Andreas Martinis gave out the Hellenic Red Cross for Greek films. He said: “The goal of the Hellenic Red Cross is to sensitize the audience and this is why it will always remain at the side of the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival”. Mr. Martinis gave the the Hellenic Red Cross Audience Award for a Greek film under 45’, accompanied by 5,000 Euros to Active Member by Lefteris Fylaktos. The director thanked the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival for giving independent filmmakers the opportunity of coming in contact with the audience.
Finally, the Hellenic Red Cross Audience Award for a Greek film over 45’, accompanied by 10,000 Euros was given to Gaza We Are Coming by Yorgos Avgeropoulos and Ioannis Karypidis. Yorgos Avgeropoulos said: The film shows how simple, everyday people can change history”. He thanked the crew that traveled to the blocked port of Gaza in two boats and asked them to take the stage. As he said, the cash prize will be given to finance a new mission and to the reconstruction of Gaza. Ioannis Karypidis in turn noted that after the documentary, the next chapter of the story will be written next month with the new mission which could be called “Gaza We Are Coming Again”. In about forty days four or five cargo ships will set out for the port of Gaza.

Immediately following the Award Ceremony, the Hellenic Red Cross Audience Award for a foreign film over 45’, Eyes Wide Open - Exploring Today's South America by Gonzalo Arijon was screened.

Present at the Closing Ceremony of the 12th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival were, among others: the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Citizen Protection Spyros Vougias, the Director of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival Despina Mouzaki, the President of ERT3 Anastasios Spiliopoulos, the President of the Hellenic Red Cross Andreas Martinis, the Vice-President of the GFC Dimitris Sofianopoulos, Vassilis Leontiadis, member of the Board of Directors of the GFC, Irini Tsokalaki, member of the Governing Council of the Greek section of Amnesty International, Yorgos Vellidis, Public Relations officer of WWF Hellas, the volunteer coordinator of the Hellenic Red Cross, Olympic medalist Voula Patoulidou, Thessaloniki member of Parliament with SYRIZA, Anastasios Kourakis, Rigas Axelos, member of the General Council of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, the deputy mayor of Youth and Culture Vassilios Gakis, representative of the prefecture Christina Kelesidou, the Turkish Consul Huseyin Ozdemir, the Canadian Consul Pandelis Petmezas, the Honorary Consul of Taiwan Remis Hatzisavvas, the Artistic Director of the Drama Short Film Festival Andonis Papadopoulos, professor in the Journalism and Media faculty of the AUT and journalist Anna Panayiotarea, the President of the Thessaloniki Opera Penelope Serdari, the Director of the French Institute Julien Chiappone-Lucchesi, the President of the Greek Directors’ Guild Harry Papadopoulos, the President of the UNESCO Greek National Council Katy Tzitzikosta, the Artistic Director of the Sani Festival Olga Tabouri, etc.


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