14th TDF: Opening Ceremony (3/10/2012)
The curtain rose on the 14th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival – Images of the 21st Century on Friday, March 9, 2012 in the packed Olympion Theater. The simple ceremony, with musical accompaniment, was followed by the screening of Tony Gatlif’s documentary Indignados, a cinematic homage to the Occupy movement.
The percussion group Krousi set the rhythm for the evening and afterwards Dimitri Eipides, director of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, welcomed the audience, political and institutional representatives to the 14th edition, noting that: “Here we are again, in spite of difficult circumstances, faithful to our rendezvous, faithful to those elements that are the cornerstones of the festival. Our goal was and remains to bring the public into the screening rooms, share images that will raise our awareness, move us, and will stimulate both thought and action within and outside the cinemas. ”
At the same time, he spoke about this year’s eclectic program, which includes documentaries from around the world, masterclasses, lectures, meetings, exhibitions, films for children and much more. Mr. Eipides said: “All the films in the program inform, give food for thought and help us approach issues that rarely reach the headlines or the news. They show us the world with a new, clear vision, they make us see behind what we think we know or take for granted. ”
The 14th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival includes a total of 190 films from 41 countries. Greek production remains at the core of the institution, with more than 75 Greek films. “The Festival gives us the opportunity to discover the work of important artists,” said Mr. Eipides. He referred to the 14th TDF tributes to Angelos Abazoglou, a Greek of the Diaspora, Eyal Sivan, the award-winning Israeli maker of political documentaries – who will also give a masterclass – as well as the spotlight on Menelaos Karamaghiolis «Meetings with remarkable people.” “This event highlights two recent cinema trends which are attracting global attention: new Balkan documentary productions, the section which is included in the program “Thessaloniki” – Cultural Crossroads” of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and a selection of new documentaries from Denmark”, stressed the TDF director.
In addition, Mr. Eipides placed particular emphasis on the TDF Doc Market section and the Festival activities through which directors can come into contact with co-producers, sales agents and distribution channels. “Right from the beginning the support of industry professionals was there and it continues to be a major interest of ours. This year the market has more than 470 films participating and more than 60 buyers, among them representatives of RAI (Italy), TV Catalunya (Spain), Films Transit (Canada), Al Jazeera (Great Britain), AVRO (Netherlands), ZDF (Germany), ARTE (France), Canal + (France), ITVS (USA), YLE (Finland), 03 Productions (United Arab Emirates), Link TV (USA), etc. Mr. Eipides declared that in addition, this year’s Market has been enriched by two new initiatives: the Docs in Progress section and the Market Talks. The Docs in Progress section presents 12 documentaries which are at a pre-completion stage. Directors and producers from Central Europe, the Mediterranean and the Balkans will have the opportunity to present their works in progress to buyers, co-producers, producers and festival representatives from around the world. In addition, Market Talks is a series of discussions with leading professionals in the documentary field, including Ally Derks, director of the Amsterdam International Documentary Festival (IDFA), which is the most important documentary festival in the world.
As Mr. Eipides said, approximately 40 journalists from abroad, 50 foreign and more than 70 Greek directors and producers will attend the14th TDF, as well as 20 students from Columbia University in New York and 15 students from the University of Bulgaria who will be accompanied by their professors. Moreover, for the 14th consecutive year, the Festival is collaborating with the European Documentary Network EDN on the 4th International Documentary Conference in Thessaloniki – to be held on March 13 – and Docs in Thessaloniki / Pitching Forum 2012, which includes a workshop, a pitching forum and the awarding of a prize.
Speaking about the parallel events of the 14th TDF, Mr. Eipides noted: “The Festival is not only concerned with moving pictures. This year we have organized a photo exhibition “Urban Survivors – Surviving in the slums of the world” in collaboration with Medicins Sans Frontieres, with support from the State Museum of Contemporary Art, the Thessaloniki Contemporary Art Center. Another innovative project is the Streaming Project, in collaboration with the Electro Acoustics and TV Systems Laboratory of the Polytechnic School of Aristotle University. Films screening at the Olympion in the 20:30 zone will be streamed live through university networks in five cities simultaneously: Corfu, Rethymno, Heraklion, Patras, and Nicosia, thus opening avenues for gradually reaching all of the Greek and Cypriot public. Also for the same purpose, we are continuing the Regional Events, by screening films of the 14th TDF in 14 Greek cities and in 18 correctional facilities.” Mr. Eipides made particular reference to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, EOT and ERT, as well as the European Union and the European Regional Development Fund, part of the Central Macedonia ROP 2007-2013. He also warmly thanked all the sponsors and supporters of the festival.
Then the TIFF director called the deputy mayor of the City of Culture Thessaloniki, Spiro Penga to the stage. He gave a greeting on behalf of the Mayor and President of the Thessaloniki Film Festival Yiannis Boutaris. “This is one more year for a festival that has been embraced by the global film community, but more importantly it is one more year for a festival that has been warmly embraced by the cinephile audience. From its very first year right up to this year’s edition, the Documentary Festival has been steadily growing, both in the number of participating films and in the number of viewers. And of course, it has established itself as one of the most important documentary festivals internationally. Directors who persist in spite of difficult times, a returning audience, a festival that keeps improving and expanding gives us renewed strength to continue”, Mr. Pengas said in his greeting. He also expressed his sincere gratitude to the TDF Director, the staff, collaborators and volunteers, as well as the film directors who have entrusted their films to the Festival, the industry professionals and the cinephiles who are in Thessaloniki at this time.
The opening ceremony of the 14th TDF was completed by the screening of Tony Gatlif’s documentary Indignados, which was inspired by Stéphane Hessel’s best selling book “Time for Outrage!”. The director combines fiction and documentary elements in order to highlight the social and economic pathology of Europe.
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