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The 9th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival kicked in

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

The 9th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival – Images of the 21st Century opened its doors last Friday, March 16, as well as a window on the multifaceted world of documentary film. The Opening Ceremony took place in the Olympion Galaxia Vacation Club hall, in the presence of political representatives, artists from Greece and abroad, and of course cinephiles.

Welcoming the public to the 9th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, the artistic Director Dimitri Eipides, summed up the nine-year-old journey of the institution, through moments that have etched themselves in his memory. Among them, the night long marathon of the 1st year of the institution, the satellite link of the Olympion with Boston, during which Noam Chomsky spoke with the public, the television marathon in collaboration with ET 3 which resulted in the building of a school in Iran, as well as the hundreds of directors, actors, creators and personalities from all over the world who have come to Thessaloniki, the Olympion and the Port in the last 9 years. “ This year’s event stands out from those that have preceded it by the particular response it received from the international Documentary field, since 1200 films were submitted, that is, 550 more than last year, out of which 236 were selected”, Mr. Eipides noted.

Next, the Director of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, Despina Mouzaki, referred to the significance and importance of documentary films, underlining that “the documentary is a vital exercise in self-knowledge in an age where technology creates its own parameters, on the one hand liberating the creative eye behind the new visual technology, while on the other hand undermining the great possibilities it promises, leading to the accumulation of prefabricated images which spoil and adulterate reality. The documentary is the best answer to this challenge. It neither hides nor reveals reality, but from the outset stimulates us to discover the true “picture” for ourselves”. She noted that the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival moves in this direction, consistently supporting creative documentaries, while she stressed that the solid audience turnout every year proves the existence of a healthy, living social organism: “That is, a public that asks for, demands and rewards a cinema that has relevance, substance and usefulness, a cinema beyond spectacle”. Ms Mouzaki did not neglect to stress the role of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival in the development of the genre in our country, underlining that the event has managed to stimulate all the vitality of the Greek documentary, and to provide a platform for a cinema that did not have its own means of projection. She finished by thanking Mr. Eipides for his contribution.

The Mayor of Thessaloniki, Vassilios Papageorgopoulos greeted the public, and noted that the Municipality loves and supports quality cinema, and that Thessaloniki enthusiastically stands by the Festival. “It is not by chance that last year more than 35,000 people attended the Documentary Festival, a record number”, he said. While speaking of this year’s organization, he stressed that it is particularly important to the city as the sections referring to Human Rights and Asia will open new roads and shed light on unknown aspects of life to the people. In closing, the Mayor of Thessaloniki stressed: “ I believe that the aim of the Festival to provide alternative entertainment is completely successful. My warm congratulations to all its staff!”

The General Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Christos Zahopoulos, announced the opening of the 9th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival – Images of the 21st Century. He pointed out that “the image, the internet, the camera, have brought people closer together so our world can no longer pretend to be distant, it cannot be so carefree”. He noted that the journey taken by the 9th Documentary Festival is a look at the problems of the world of today, while he expressed the thanks of the state and its unreserved support of the institution.

Immediately afterward Barbara Kopple, the director of the opening film Dixie Chicks: Shut up and Sing took the stage. She stressed the joy and honour she feels at being present at the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival and the screening of her film: “ The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival promotes the documentary genre not only in this city but the whole world, and I am particularly happy to see one of the best collections of documentary films here”, she said. While speaking about Dixie Chicks, she explained that it is about the close bonds among the women of the group and the difficulties they faced trying not to surrender to muzzling and censorship.

The Ceremony was honoured by the presence of, among others, the General Consul of the USA, Hoyt Brian Yee, Vice-Consul of the USA, Elaene Paplos, the member of Parliament for Thessaloniki, Haris Kastanidis, the member of the European Parliament Evangelia Tsabazi, the President of the Cinema Section of the School of Fine arts of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, Apostolos Fokion Vettas, representatives of the Municipality and Prefecture of Thessaloniki, the Director of the Port Authority of Thessaloniki, Ioannis Tsaras, the vice-President of the Greek Film Center, Dimitris Sofianopoulos, the vice-President of the Board of Directors of the Greek Cinematheque, Theodoros Adamopoulos, the Director of the German Institute of Thessaloniki, Karl-Heinz Thalmann, the President of the State Museum of Contemporary Art, Yorgos Tsaras, the President of the Museum of Cinema, Yorgos Mylonas, the director of the Museum of Cinema Vassilis Kehagias, the President of the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art Xanthipi Skarpia – Hoipel, the President of the State Theater of Northern Greece, Nikolaos Makrantonakis, the President of the Thessaloniki Urban Transit Council, Yannis Toskas, the representative of the Ministry of Macedonia-Thrace, Sia Touliopoulou, the President of the Greek Scriptwriters Union, Alexandros Kakavas, the member of the Governing Council of ERT3 Nelly Zika-Tselemengou, and the commissioned councilor of HELEXPO, Ifestion Serdaris.

The Opening Ceremony of the 9th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival – Images of the 21st Century was completed with the screening of the documentary Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing, by Barbara Kopple.

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