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Thessaloniki Documentary Festival

The 11th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival – Images of the 21st Century (March 13 – 22, 2009) will present approximately 200 documentaries in the event’s flagship OLYMPION and PAVLOS ZANNAS theatres at the festival headquarters in Aristotelous square. Additional screening venues JOHN CASSAVETES, STAVROS TORNES, FRIDA LIAPPA and TONIA MARKETAKI are located at the Thessaloniki pier, within walking distance from the Festival headquarters, the guests’ hotels and the International Doc Market.

The main sections of the event, curated by the Festival Artistic Director, Dimitri Eipides are:

- Views of the World: dealing with subjects of social interest.
- Portraits - Human Journeys: the human being as the focus of the narrative.
- Stories to Tell: brief stories of human interest that stand out both for the nature of their subject and the way it has been dealt with.
- Recordings of Memory: Events and people who played a significant role in shaping contemporary life; the testimonies of a living history.
- Habitat: environmental issues and their social context.
- Music: late night screenings of musical documentaries.
- Greek Panorama: a selection from the latest local documentary productions.
- Human Rights: films that shed light and raise questions on vital human rights issues such as freedom of speech and the right to different political and religious convictions.
- Hybrid Docs: a section that is introduced for the first time, it will showcase documentaries that defy form and tradition by means of dramatizations, reconstructions, the use of animation, etc.


Among the films that constitute this year’s program, the 11th TDF is proud to present the following premieres:

Huxley on Huxley by Mary Ann Braubach, USA (Portraits - Human Journeys): The marriage of Aldous and Laura Huxley, a prominent psychotherapist, lasted less than a decade, but in its duration it provided a nurturing and creative environment for both the author of Brave New World and his spouse. Their famous Saturday lunches, with guests such as Igor Stravinsky and Orson Welles, the couple’s experiments with psychedelic drugs and their revolutionary professional work are recounted in this documentary by Laura Huxley herself, who passed away in 2007 (World Premiere).

A Blooming Business by Ton Van Zantvoort, Netherlands (Human Rights): A discerning look into the workings of the world flower industry, A Blooming Business follows the lives of Kenyan women trapped by their need for work in the global flower-growing industry, situated mostly in third world countries. While we find out that Jane, a single mother, is forced to have sex with her manager in order to keep her job in a flower-growing farm and support her family, the film shows not only the horrific human repercussions, but also the ecological damage occurring from the industry’s practices (World Premiere).

The Mother by Antoine Cattin & Pavel Kostomarov, Switzerland / France / Russia (Stories to Tell): Liubov is a single, working-class mother of nine in a desolate, rural part of Russia; her eldest son is a convict, another suffers from a learning disability, while she herself can barely make ends meet by working in a farm. The filmmakers, who spent three years with Liubov’s family, gained tremendous intimacy with its members and, with their cameras, they captured dire hardships, bus also pure moments of joy and familial affection (International Premiere).

Su Napoli, by Robert Russo, Italy / USA, (Habitat): Six questions are posed by the filmmaker to various residents of Naples, in an effort to gain an understanding of how one of the oldest European cities functions today. The film provides both anthropological and sociological viewpoints, but also a humorous and honest account, by examining the inhabitants’ philosophies concerning their city, their life, their social customs and, of course, Neapolitan food (International Premiere).

Courting Condi by Sebastian Doggart, USA (Hybrid Docs): In what is being referred to as a “musical docu-tragi-comedy”, Devin Ratray, a musician, travels all over the USA in order to learn about the past and win the heart of Condoleezza Rice. Ratray’s eccentric infatuation with Rice is completely fictional, but the original and funny way in which the film handles its topic provides fascinating insights into the life and personality of one of the most powerful women in the world (International Premiere).

Marina of the Zabbaleen by Engi Wassef, USA (Views of the World): The Zabbaleen live on the outskirts of Cairo, amidst huge mountains of all types of garbage. Children such as six-year-old Marina, who dreams of being a doctor and provides the focus of the documentary, spend their childhoods playing amidst the piles of rubbish. The hard-working community of the Zabbaleen, however, plays an important role in Cairo’s everyday life, as they recycle an immense amount of the city’s waste (European Premiere).

The International Doc Market, introduced in 1999 and headed by Yianna Sarri, will be held this year from March 16-21, featuring over 450 titles. The market, organized in cooperation with the Greek National Television (ERT S.A.) and with the support of Media Program of the European Union, caters to the needs of TV networks from European countries, while it has already proved to be a useful tool for a wide range of professionals from other parts of the world.
Approximately 50 buyers will be attending from Europe, the US and Canada, such as Anne Grolleron (Histoire – France), Noemi de Gabo Garcia (Television of Spain), Nicolas Deschamps (ARTE – France), Jan Rofenkamp (Films Transit - Canada), Kerime Senyucel (TRT – Turkey), Francis Kandel (Canal+ - France) and Alain Johnson (Planete Multithematiques - France), to name a few.
There will be 30 fully equipped viewing booths available for private viewing of the Market Videotheque films. The Doc Market will be housed in the 1st floor of the Electra Palace Hotel at Aristotelous Sq and next to the Festival headquarters, providing a large and well-equipped space to all its participants.

The Pitching Forum – Docs In Thessaloniki (March 18-22, 2009), running since 2001 in collaboration with the European Documentary Network (EDN), gives local and foreign documentary professionals the opportunity to have their projects pitched to a panel of international financiers, commissioning editors and representatives of the international audiovisual media. During the five-day programme, consisting of a three-day workshop and two days of pitching, 21 projects will be presented in the Pitching Forum 2009, headed by EDN Director Line Sandsmark.

This parallel event, first introduced in 2006, has enjoyed success with filmmakers and festival attendees and continues now in its fourth year. Just Talking brings filmmakers and industry professionals from various parts of the world together, it creates a platform of communication for filmmakers, expands the borders of creativity and forges collaboration. Discussion groups of directors, journalists and buyers are formed on a daily basis and the one-hour sessions revolve around various issues that concern documentary filmmakers, in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Apart from the groups, all other accredited festival attendees are admitted to the sessions and can either listen or participate. The Just Talking coordinator is Lilly Papagianni.

The awards of the festival are:

Public choice awards:

Two awards will be handed out to documentaries over 45’ (one for a Greek documentary and one for a documentary from the International Selection).
Each award carries a cash prize of 4000 euros.

Two awards will be handed out to documentaries under 45’ (one for a Greek documentary and one for a documentary from the International Selection).
Each award carries a cash prize of 2000 euros.

FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) Awards:

A five-member international FIPRESCI jury will hand out

- A FIPRESCI award to a Greek documentary and
- A FIPRESCI award to a foreign film

The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival is organized with the support of the Greek Ministry of Culture and the backing of Greek Public Television (ERT S.A.), the Greek Film Centre, the Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace and the Municipality of Thessaloniki.


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