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Closing ceremony remarks at the Thessaloniki Film Fest

The 9th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival – Images of the 21st Century (March 16-25, 2007)

The curtain came down on the 9th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Images of the 21st Century on Saturday, March 24 in the crowded and emotion filled Olympion Galaxia Vacation Club theater. Maya Tsokli was presenter of the ceremony.
Dimitri Eipides, artistic director of the Festival, gave a prologue: “Ten days ago, at the opening ceremony I reminded you of a few moments from previous Documentary Festivals that have been etched in our memories. But we lived very moving moments this year as well, as we met the Grande Dame of the documentary, Barbara Kopple, the two maestros of the independent documentary Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, and explored the ethics of documentary making with Jon Alpert”. He then referred to the numbers of this year’s edition, which bear witness to its success. “This year, up to today we have reached 35,200 admissions, a number which is expected to increase since the festival continues tomorrow as well. Today we are celebrating the Festival, which hosted a total of 236 films, welcomed 694 guests, 175 of whom were foreign, while there were 480 films in the Market and 56 buyers. It is a victory for the Festival and for the Documentary”, Mr. Eipides noted, while he expressed his support for the Festival staff, whose contracts are up at the end of March, and he expressed his hope that a solution will be found.
The presentation of the awards of the 9th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Images of the 21st Century followed. First was the WWF award – Habitat Section – which was presented by Yorgos Vellidis, Head of Communications for WWF Greece, to the film Loop, Norway, by Sjur Paulsen. “The WWF is an international environmental organization which has been active for 45 years in 100 countries. Its goal is the harmonious co-existence of man and nature, something uniquely expressed in a phrase from Loop: nature is not something out there, it is among us”, Mr. Vellidis declared.

Then Irene Tsolaki, Vice – chairman of the Greek Section of Amnesty International presented the International Amnesty Award – Human Rights Section – to the documentary THE TRIALS OF DARRYL HUNT , USA by Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern. We will continue giving this award until human rights stop being violated. Every documentary can pass on messages and sensitize the public. It is different to read about the child soldiers of the Congo than to see the image of a child holding a large weapon in its hands in front of you”, stressed Ms Tsolaki.

The ceremony continued with the FIPRESCI prizes for best foreign and Greek productions, which were presented by Thomas Rothschild (president of the Jury), and Dimosthenis Xifilinos (Jury member) to the film SOUVENIRS, Israel, directed by Shahar Cohen and Halil Efrat, of the internacional selection and SECRETS & LIES by Stavros Stangos, Greece, respectively. Mr. Rothchild noted that the choice was very difficult as he saw many very good documentaries that wish to change our world a little, while he also thanked, along with Mr. Xifilinos, the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival and its staff for their hospitality.
“Life has many nice things and ugly things which we hide daily. I chose to make a film about the ugly things, and show a cultural model that multinationals are trying to force upon us by telling us that everything is fine. No, everything is not fine”, the director Stavros Stangos declared upon receiving his award.

The ERT3 Audience Awards followed. These awards were given to two Greek and two foreign productions (over and under 45’). The ERT3 Audience Award for a Foreign Film under 45’ (accompanied by a prize of 2,000 Euros) was presented by the president of the Audiovisual Media Institute Rodolphos Moronis to the film THE BLOOD OF YINGZHOU DISTRICT by Ruby Yang. The ERT3 Audience Award for a Greek Film under 45’ (2,000 Euros) was presented by the vice president of the Greek Film Center Dimitris Sofianopoulos to the film SCHOOLWAVE by Pavlos Tsiandos. The director of the documentary declared “the youth of our country that is waiting for a helping hand from us older people has been awarded”, while Mr. Sofianopoulos clarified that the GFC’s funding is for documentaries that stand out as film works, not as reportage.

The ERT-3 Audience Award for a Foreign Film over 45’ (3,000 Euros) was presented by Nelly Zika, member of the board of directors of ERT3 to the film A SONG FOR ARGYRIS, Switzerland, directed by Stefan Haupt. Patrick Lindenmaier, the film’s cinematographer picked up the award, expressing his happiness for the award, as well as his thanks to the Greek audience. “I came from Switzerland to film a Greek subject. The film is being prepared for release, but I don’t know when this will happen in Greece” stated Lindenmaier.
Finally, George Corraface, president of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival took the stage, who presented the ERT3 Audience Award for a Greek production over 45’ (3,000 Euros), to the film PLAY IT AGAIN, CHRISTOS, directed by Stavros Kaplanidis. The director thanked the audience and urged it to give a round of applause to Christos Vakalopoulos.

Georges Corraface in turn declared himself “awestruck” by the Greek documentary and its strength. “But I am also a little jealous because I see that documentary makers can work with low budgets, without big Hollywood stars or special effects. Documentaries can walk as equals on the international stage regardless of which country they come from, as long as they have a penetrating eye”, stressed Mr. Corraface, literally taking off the hat he was wearing to the documentary makers, while he referred to the problems of the Festival staff-contract personnel as well. He asked “that the lawmakers be a little more flexible so that a solution could be found to their problem”.

Among others, the following honoured the event with their presence: the parliament members Ioannis Magriotis, Stavros Kalafatis, Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Konstantinos Gioulekas, the general consul of the USA Hoyt Brian Yee, the Honourary Consul of Taiwan Remis Hatzisavas, the Vice Consul of the USA Elaene Paplos, the Assistant Dean of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki Athanassia Tsatsakou, the Managing Director of the Thessaloniki International Exposition Nikolaos Kassimatis, the Ministry of Culture advisor and member of the board of directors of the TIFF Dimitra Argyrou, Sia Touliopoulou, representative of the Ministry for Macedonia – Thrace and member of the General Assembly of the TIFF, Nikoletta Tsikioti, responsible for the Ministry for Macedonia – Thrace Cultural Programmes, the President of the Cinema Section of the School of Fine Arts of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki Apostolos Fokion Vettas and Manos Zacharias, advisor to the president of ERT in matters pertaining to cinema.

The Presidrnt of Thessaloniki International Film Festival,George Horaphas and the Art Director of Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, Dimitris Eipidis



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