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Vitaly Mansky Tribute Filming on thin ice


Vitaly Mansky, one of the most distinguished and uncompromised European documentary filmmakers, is honored in the 19th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival with a special tribute to his work. The Ukraine-born Russian director will attend this year’s edition to present his films and share with the audience his experience in making documentaries that challenge people, politics and society in the modern world.


Born in 1963 in Lvov, Ukraine, Mansky completed his studies in VGIK - All-Russian State Institute of Cinematography in Moscow, where he spent most of his life working as a documentary filmmaker and producer both in cinema and television. His filmography includes more than 30 documentaries that have been presented and awarded in numerous acclaimed international festivals. Since 2015 he is based in Latvia.


Mansky seems to be filming on thin ice, dealing with controversial issues that arouse debate. He always employs a critical eye in observing reality, whether it’s about boldly revealing the current situation in North Korea or highlighting the sociopolitical status of contemporary Russia.


In his latest work Close Relations (2016) the director returns to Ukraine and meets his family members. Through their personal stories he provides a rare insight into the impact of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict that erupted after the 2014 Maidan revolution, skillfully shedding light on collective history. As he recounts: “I had just started my career as a director when the Soviet Union broke apart. I became a Russian rather than Ukrainian citizen simply because I happened to live in Moscow at the time (...) what happened there recently feels like my personal tragedy”.


Having been granted with permission to film by the North Korean authorities, Mansky records the seemingly flawless life of the country’s citizens in Under the Sun (2015). The film masterfully reveals the people’s lack of freedom and the state’s propaganda mechanisms, following an eight-year-old girl as she prepares to celebrate the birthday of former supreme leader Kim Jong-il.


An adventurous journey along the legendary Trans-Siberian gas pipeline unfolds in Pipeline (2013). Linking places and communities from Western Siberia to Western Europe, the film looks at the area’s multi-faceted human geography, full of contradictions, twists and turns.


A different portrait of Cuba and its people is captured in Mansky’s Motherland or Death (2011). Defying stereotypes, the film explores culture, society, politics and the invincible spirit of the Cubans, who have been living for almost half a century somewhere between revolution and exclusion.


In the touching Gagarin's Pioneers (2005), Mansky traces the past and present of his old classmates, those who took an oath as Soviet Union Young Pioneers back in 1973. From Ukraine to Israel and from USA to Canada, the film centres on their dreams, expectations and life circumstances.


Set at the same name tourist resort, Broadway. Black Sea (2002) introduces us to an attractive and cheerful microcosm of holidaymakers: refugees from Caucasus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, as well as Russians, who enjoy their summer vacation swimming, dancing and flirting.


Mansky revisits his childhood and youth in the autobiographical documentary Private Monologues (1999), blending rich archival material with personal documents. This is also a portrait of his generation, marked by the accomplishments of Yuri Gagarin in a country of triumph and key changes.




The 19th TDF is financed by the European Union - European Regional Development Fund under the ROP of Central Macedonia 2014-2020.



Co-financed by Greece and the European Union


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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.

Contributions from Buno Chatelin



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