14th Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival

14th Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival, Greece (March 9 - March 18, 2012)

The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival "Images of the 21st Century" was held once again despite the vast economic crisis that is blighting Greece, with an apparently lower budget. The budget had become an issue since the risk had been lurking that a reduced budget would have an impact on the festival's quality. But it seems that everyone running the event, from the art director to every single employee, has won the bet! The 14th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, which featured almost 200 documentaries in all of its sections, managed not only to preserve its quality, but to surpass it. Public attendance exceeded the previous year by almost ten thousand. In 2011, 44,000 spectators attended the festival, while this year audiences reached the 55,000 mark. However, the number of attendants is not a qualitative measure but a quantitative one. It becomes a qualitative measure, if we take into account the positive public opinion of the films that were watched over the ten days of the festival. People of all age groups were queuing for a ticket, or holding a festival programme.

We can firmly conclude that, despite the problems, the festival had high quality standards and the organisation was excellent, as were the parallel events. The cooperation of the guests and the public with the various parts of the festival was also excellent.

The economic crisis is, almost every day, a focus of Greek conversation. So it's no wonder that the two films that opened and closed the festival dealt with the economic crisis. The opening documentary was Indignados by Tony Gatlif, while Italy: Love It, or Leave It (Italia, agapa tin i parata tin) by Gustav Hofer and Luca Ragazzi, which won the audience award, marked the festival's end. Both movies, naturally, were intensely applauded.

As is natural, the crisis has infused the Greek documentaries that participated in the festival. A sample of the movies that refer to the multiple faces of the economic crisis are as follows: Krisis by Nikos Katsaounis and Ninas Maria Paschalidou, Oligarchy (Oligarchia) by Stelios Kouloglou, 155 sold by Yorgos Pandeleakis, Children of the Riots (Paidia ton tarahon) by Christos Georgiou, Tomorrow Would Be Another Day (Avrio tha itan mia alli mera) by Stefanos Mondelos, Nour — You Can Find Light Everywhere (Nour — Fos pantou yparhei) by Nikos Soulis, Toxic Crisis by Omiros Evagelinos, Waiting for the Barbarians (Perimenontas tous varvarous) by Kostas Stamatopoulos, and last but not least, West Dream (I antipera ohthi) by Morteza Jafari. And more Greek documentaries besides these relate to the crisis.

Documentary production in Greece over the past decade has been positive and promising and it has been confirmed once again this year. However, I would like to note something negative, in my personal view — the inclusion of many productions that have been made exclusively for television in the official sections. I think that the management of the festival should create a separate category for those documentaries. (Stratos Kersanidis)

Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival: www.filmfestival.gr

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