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11th TDF: OPENING CEREMONY (3/14/2009)


The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Images of the 21st Century enters its second decade as of Friday, March 13, with the Opening Ceremony of the 11th edition at the Olympion Theatre. Stavros Kalafatis, Minister of Macedonia-Thrace, launched the Documentary Festival, and the screening of Chao Gan’s The Red Race followed.

Despina Mouzaki, Director of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, welcomed the audience and the special guests. She stressed that the opening of the Documentary Festival is the springboard for the wonderful voyage of images from the screen to the eyes and thoughts of the viewers: “For 11 years now we have traveled through the Documentary Festival to the realities of the planet. We are not only proud of its swift progress, but also of the way it seems to capture the pulse of our age, to reflect the human condition beyond borders”, she noted. She praised the perpetual efforts of Dimitri Eipides, Artistic Director of the Documentary Festival, the staff and the Festival collaborators. “The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Images of the 21st Century has now been established as an event of international prestige and importance, which is not limited to its cinematic substance but develops a dialogue which helps all of us to hone our reflexes, to clarify our positions, not as solitary units but as valuable parts of a larger structure. At a critical turning point for society, let’s give a special place to films, so they can sensitize us, make us question things, and even stir us to action, and let’s share our common desire for a better world and a more meaningful cinema together over the next 10 days”, Ms Mouzaki stressed.

Dimitri Eipides, Artistic Director of the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Images of the 21st Century then took the stage. “Tonight’s opening is very special for us, because the festival enters its second decade as of tonight. After the challenges and enthusiasm of the beginning, after the successes, there comes a moment when every institution becomes consolidated and defines its character, its goals and its reason for being. Perhaps this is what maturity means”, he stated.
Eipides stated that documentaries inform the public on issues that aren’t covered by newspapers and in a way that would never be presented in a newscast: “For us, the documentary is a source of alternative information. For this reason, the 11th Festival will begin its sidebar events with a panel discussion on alternative information and democracy. For us, the documentary means knowledge on the world’s issues. This is why this year the Festival turns to Africa and looks at it through the eyes of Africans, and not western filmmakers. The most important Festival Directors of Europe and North America will be with us this year. Above all else, the documentary is, for us, homage to good cinema. Whether we speak of Tributes or Master Classes, good cinema is our absolute priority”, Mr. Eipides said, and continued by giving some numbers on the past and present of the event: “The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Images of the 21st Century began in 1999 with 70 films and this year, in the 11th edition, it will present 151 films to viewers and buyers, 116 of which come from 45 countries, and 44 are Greek productions. Moreover, the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Images of the 21st Century is hosting the world premieres of 45 Greek and international productions”.

Vassilis Papageorgopoulos, Mayor of Thessaloniki expressed his certainty that this year’s festival will surpass the 40,000 viewers of last year’s edition. In his greeting, Mr. Papageorgopoulos congratulated the Director of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, Despina Mouzaki, and the Artistic Director of the Documentary Festival, Dimitri Eipides, on behalf of the City Council, and stressed that the City of Thessaloniki supports the Festival.

Stavros Kalafatis, Minster of Macedonia-Thrace called the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Images of the 21st Century a high-ranking diplomat for Greece. Mr. Kalafatis stressed that the Ministry of Macedonia-Thrace is a stalwart helper of the Festival, which is a part of the cultural life of Northern Greece. “We are following the climb of the Documentary Festival to that of a world scale event with particular pride. The 11th Festival begins its interesting voyage to the world and we are all here to trace the concerns and reflections of the directors, to speak with the filmmakers, to learn and to be challenged, and, through the special Tribute to Africa, to get to know its cultures and its problems. We welcome the artistic creation which reflects Greece and the world of the 21st century”. Mr. Kalafatis said, “in an age where we need more windows, where we need more and bigger roads to communicate with each other” the Documentary Festival is “a wonderful opportunity to feel the breath of different peoples”.

Among others, the Opening Ceremony was honored by the presence of the Consul General of the USA Mr. Hoyt Brian Yee, the Consul General of Turkey Mr. Hakan Abaci, the General Consul of France Mr. Christian Thimonier, the General Secretary of the Ministry of Macedonia-Thrace Mr. Lukas Ananikas, the vice president of the Greek Film Center Dimitris Sofianopoulos, Olympic champion and Red Cross Volunteer Coordinator Voula Patoulidou, member of Parliament Tasos Kourakis, the president of the A Municipal District Tolis Veizades, Municipal Council member Charalampos Barbounakis, member of the ERT3 Board of Directors Nelly Zika-Tsemelengou, , Mr. Thanassis Panoris, the Director of the Archeological Museum Jenny Veleni, the President of the State Museum of Modern Art Katerina Koskina, the Director of the Film Museum Vassilis Kehagias, the Director of the Goethe Institute Carl Heinz Talman, the vice-rector of the AUT Stavros Panas, the Board of Directors of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, etc.


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About Thessaloniki

Mcmahon Vanessa

Vanessa McMahon Covered the 13th and 14th, and 16th edition.
Catherine Esway has covered the 12th edition of Thessaloniki Documentary Festival
Cécile Rittweger covered the  11th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival

Christine Marik's reported from 49th Thessaloniki International Film Festival
Past coverage from the 10th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival by Bruno Chatelin.

Through its tributes, it focuses both on discovering filmmakers with a unique cinematic point of view, and on the internationally recognized for their contribution to documentary.

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