15 Years TDF: A Fascinating Journey

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Thessaloniki Documentary Festival

The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival – Images of the 21st Century celebrates its 15th anniversary and honors the highly creative, cinematic, socially-committed and constantly evolving art of the documentary by presenting a collection of beloved films that epitomize the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival from its inception until today.

The selected documentaries challenged perceptions, exposed truths, entertained, provoked fruitful dialogue and helped shape the Festival character, playing a formative role in its journey throughout the past 15 years. Many of the – both acclaimed and neophyte – filmmakers that made the films attended the Documentary Festival, to present and discuss them with the Thessaloniki audiences, enriching the viewing experience and providing valuable insight.

Amongst these films are:

Lucky People Center International, Eric Pauser & Johan Soderberg, 1998, Sweden. Pauser and Soderberg, members of the Lucky People Center dance music collective, travelled to 15 different countries for this tremendously ambitious and compelling film, which looks at our planet’ s diverse music, rhythms and beats just before the turn of the millennium.
Mobile Cinema of Dreams (Kiniarze z kalkuty), Andrzej Fidyk, 1998, Poland. Fidyk’s portrait of Mr. Battu, the Indian proprietor of a travelling movie theater, is a testament to the magic of cinema as well as a sharp observation of the vast country’ s journey from colonial to post-colonial times.
Gaea Girls, Kim Longinotto & Jano Williams, 2000, UK. Longinotto, with her characteristic nonintrusive, delicate and perceptive manner, delves into the world of the Gaea Japanese female wrestlers, who endure an extremely harsh training regime in order to make it to the ring. Following trainee Takeuchi, Longinotto and Williams provide a pass to a truly strange and fascinating universe.
The Corporation, March Achbar & Jennifer Abbott, 2002, Canada. More relevant today than ever, The Corporation uses as a starting point the 18th century American Supreme Court ruling that corporations must be legally treated as persons. The film studies the behavior of these “persons”, evaluating and challenging their destructive role in society as well as their often psychopathic demeanors.
My Flesh and Blood, Jonathan Karsh, 2003, USA. The touching story of Susan Tom and her 11 adopted kids -all of whom suffer from various mental and/or physical disabilities- My Flesh and Blood paints a unique picture of a unique family, at its centre a mother with superhuman will and tremendous reserves of love.
The Story of the Weeping Camel (Die Geschichte vom weinenden Kamel), Byambasuren Davaa & Luigi Falorni, 2003, Germany/Mongolia. One of the most moving and beloved films of the last decade, The Story of the Weeping Camel, a hybrid between documentary and constructed narrative, recounts the story of a nomadic family in the Gobi desert and its efforts to reconcile their camel with the rare white calf that the mother animal rejected after its birth.
Gray Matter, Joe Berlinger, 2004, USA. Berlinger, investigating one of the most unsettling stories to emerge from Holocaust history, travelled to Vienna to document the burial of the brains of 700 handicapped children murdered in a Nazi clinic and to search for Austrian Dr. Heinrich Gross, who participated in the gruesome process. Berlinger’s customary attention to detail and thorough investigative manner not only create suspense, but also pose significant moral questions.
A Lion in the House, Julia Reichert & Steven Bognar, 2006, USA. A true documentary feat, A Lion in the House spans 6 years in the lives of five families whose children of various ages fight cancer at the Cincinnati Children’ s Hospital Medical Centre. Amidst harrowing difficulties, family bonds emerge triumphant and the children ’s resilience and strength become the strongest point in the film.
She’ s a Boy I Knew, Gwen Haworth, 2007, Canada. Becoming a part of the documentary tradition in which a filmmaker turns their camera to themselves and their families, Haworth (born male) documented her journey to gender reassignment surgery, employing an unflinching gaze that resulted in a remarkable and honest film.
Which Way Home, Rebecca Cammisa, 2009, USA. Academy Award nominee Which Way Home reveals the individual stories behind immigration, following several young children who are trying to enter the United States from countries such as Mexico and the Honduras. The film is a powerful testament to the complicated social issues arising from the subject of immigration, but also to the courage of its protagonists, and all the others like them.
Autumn Gold (Herbstgold), Jan Tenhaven, 2010, Germany/Austria. Autumn Gold follows the lives and training of five athletes aged 83 to 100 years old participating in the track and field World Masters Championship. The immensely charming personalities and aspirations of its protagonists make for a wonderfully entertaining and compelling film.
Vivan las antipodas!, Victor Kossakovsky, 2011, Germany/Netherlands/Argentina/Chile. A stunning and exceptional film, Kossakovsky’s latest follows a unique idea, presented in a unique manner: by uniting (via camera movements and editing) our planet’ s land antipodes, we are invited to a journey to Earth’ s differences and wonders.

Amongst the Greek documentaries that will be screened as part of the tribute, are:

Sugar Town – The Bridegrooms, Kimon Tsakiris, 2005, Greece. The audience award winner of the 9th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, Sugar Town provides a highly entertaining and witty look into the problem of female shortage in the Greek village of Zaharo, which the mayor is determined to solve by importing potential brides from Russia.
The Lovers from Axos, Nikos Lingouris, 2007, Greece/Germany. The Lovers from Axos, which won the FIPRESCI prize in the 10th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, introduces us to an elderly couple living on the island of Crete, in the mountainous Axos village. The bond between them, after many decades of marriage, is strong and deep-seated; Lingouris’ subtle handling of their relationship makes for a moving cinematic experience.
Docville: Laskareos 99 Str., Athens, Katerina Patroni, 2011, Greece. The harsh and human face of the Greek crisis is investigated in this episode of the Greek Docville series, in which two female shop proprietors in Athens fight hard not to lose their livelihoods.
Sayome, Nikos Dayandas, 2011, Greece. The FIPRESCI winner of the 14th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival presents the story of Sayome, a Japanese woman married to a Greek who has been living in Crete for 35 years. The filming of her first visit to Japan in three decades deftly explores issues of culture, identity and belonging, as well as the unbreakable bonds of family.

The full film list, which will include approximately 35 films, will be announced at a later date.

The 15th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival will take place March 15 – 24, 2013. See more details here.

Source: TDF – Press Release 29/1