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-14th TDF PRESS-

Israeli director Eyal Sivan held a press conference on Wednesday, March 14, 2012. Mr. Sivan is attending the 14th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Images of the 21st Century on the occasion of the Tribute to his work that the festival has organized. Mr. Dimitri Eipides, Director of the TDF and TIFF, introduced this leading representative of political documentaries, known for his unconventional views regarding the Palestinian issue and Israel’s official policies. Dimitri Kerkinos, who coordinated the Tribute, moderated the discussion.

"This is a tribute to a truly outstanding director, a man who uses the medium with exceptional ability, since he not only includes the human aspect of the image, but also demonstrates strong political beliefs, which make his work even more significant," said Mr. Eipides and continued: "This kind of cinema is a lesson to all of us."

Taking the floor, Eyal Sivan referred to his relationship with the state of Israel: "I think the big challenge for me is to be radical, that is, to stand against the Israeli state and its established logic. This is what I try to do, given that now the Israeli state must accept a different approach to the Palestinian question. However, I accept the fact that they don’t like me, and I don’t like them, and let the best man win”.

He then spoke about the changes that he has observed in recent years on the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "Now I see Palestine and Israel as a sort of political laboratory. What I think has improved is the ability to screen films and express opinions such as mine at places such as this festival. It is now possible to show the world a different point of view, aside from what is happening in Israel. I think that there is a new balance of power now. Eventually, the viewer is the one who makes the difference. Step by step, we have achieved a spontaneous mobilization, as activists on both sides have managed to establish their presence," the director stated.

Speaking about how documentaries reflect reality, Eyal Sivan, explained: "There is a continuous effort being made on a global level, to separate the real world from the perception that people have of it. Today much room is given for people to get involved with documentary filmmaking, because there is an intense need for us to connect to the real world. When you screen a documentary, people fill the cinema because of just this need. What the documentary offers us is not one single viewpoint, but the diversity of views that constitutes reality. "

Referring to his new film, Common State – Potential Conversation (1) which is holding its world premiere at the 14th TDF, he revealed that he managed to complete it just one week before the festival opened, and that in spite of what his friends in France were advising him to do, he explained why he preferred to have its first screening in Thessaloniki: “Even if I could choose between Berlin and Thessaloniki, I would prefer Thessaloniki, since this is the only way for me to thank the people who invited me here. So you can say that I am offering them this premiere in return.” The film is based on his book which will be published in Paris on March 23. “The subject is the Mediterranean and the Jordan river. In the film I speak with people who believe the solution to the problem between Israel and Palestine is not division, as has been propagandized for decades, but one common state. I reverse conventional logic through this film, and begin from the premise that the whole problem stems from division, so what I would want is for the world to envision a common state where Palestinians and Israelis could live together in harmony” Eyal Sivan noted.

Asked how his films are received in Israel, Sivan said: "Most have been screened in one way or another, but officially, only two have been screened. Although my films are not screened in cinemas, they are studied at a university level. Film critics and university professors often refer to The Specialist, for example, and many of my documentaries have triggered meetings and discussions among activists, both Palestinians and Israelis. "

On the issue of objectivity and subjectivity in the documentary genre, Eyal Sivan, stated that he is not objective, because "only those who have power pretend to be objective. Subjectivity and objectivity has to do with how we see things. Therefore the challenge is to have all these different points of view be accepted, since only the accumulation of these subjectivities is able to give us a meaningful depiction of reality. "

The director did not fail to mention the Greek crisis, connecting it with what is happening on a global level. "The conflict between Israel and Palestine is actually a purely European issue and stems from Europe's relationship to both Islam and Judaism. On the other hand, Greeks know that this crisis everyone is speaking about is also an opportunity for Greece to be decolonialized from Europe. The West may have formally left the colonies for some time now, however, the colonial mentality remains. When people talk about lazy Greeks and Spaniards, they are using a purely colonialist form of speech. What I consider sacred is that European identity must be maintained at all costs, in the humanitarian sense not in nationalist. "

Eyal Sivan concluded with an appeal to Greeks: "You must not sell out to the West." He thanked the festival organizers once again for their hospitality and their invitation: "I have been a dissident all my life and the fact that you have welcomed me with such warmth is wonderful. What more could I want?"

The Tribute to Eyal Sivan has been funded, among other 14th TDF activities, by the European Union - European Regional Development Fund under the Central Macedonia ROP 2007-2013.



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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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