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10th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival :JUST TALKING

On Tuesday, March 11, at the Excelsior room of the Electra Palace hotel, the directors Necati Sonmez (To make an example of), Krzysztof Kopczynnski (Stone Silence), Buthina Canaan Khoury (Maria's Grotto), Mary-Ellen Davis (Territories), Sarah Singh (The sky below), Sibel Bilgin & Floor Kooij (Burhan Uygur: Passion of an artist), Pola Rapaport (Hair let the sun shine in), Sotiris Danezis, honoree of the Festival, and the distributor Sirkka Moeller from the German company Deckert, participated in the day's Just Talking event.

The discussion, which began with a brief introduction on the films of the directors present, finally centered around the difficulties a documentary maker can face regarding financing and the distribution of his film

Sarah Singh, director of the film The Sky Below, tried to present "a contemporary view of India and Pakistan, through the continuing effects of the division of the Indian peninsula", she said.

Krzysztof Kopczynski (Stone Silence) stressed that the specific film was his first as a director, as he himself is a producer, and for this reason he has called himself "a new talent".

Mary-Ellen Davis (Territories) spoke about the ambitions and dreams of every documentary maker. She noted: "What most of us want is to cause changes in the reality we live in with our films. We wish to open horizons and expand the consciousness of the audience". Then, speaking about financing and distribution, the stressed: " Perhaps the internet could have a positive effect in terms of film distribution, but not for their financing".

Sirkka Moeller, distributor, referred to television ratings and the advertising market, which, as she said, "have increased competition in the television market that results in losing touch with what the viewers really want."
The director Necati Sonmez (To make an example of) said that in Turkey, both cinemas and television don't usually screen documentaries. "Of course the fact that we don't make documentaries for our television gives us the independence and freedom to choose the subject matter", she commented. Regarding new technologies and the internet, N. Sonmez said that: "We can use it, but certainly it can't provide us with the necessary funds to survive".

Buthina Canaan Khoury (Maria's Grotto) spoke about the difficulties a woman film maker from Palestine faces, in order to participate in a festival to promote her work, particularly when it goes against the establishment. For this reason she said she was extremely happy to have secured her participation in the 10th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival. She said, "I am the only participant from Palestine in this year's programme. For me this is extremely important."

Then Sibel Bilgin and Floor Kooij, directors of the film Burhan Uygur: Passion of an artist took the floor. The film is a portrait of the Turkish painter Burhan Uygur, who died at only 52 years of age. "Burhan Uygur is a part of contemporary Turkish art", Sibel Bilgin said, Floor Kooij added that "no one expected that even Turkey is a source of art, just like Paris or Amsterdam. This was one of the reasons we wanted to make this film." About financing documentaries, Floor Kooij said that "advertising rules and guides everything on television, and this makes things even more difficult for independent documentary makers".

Η Pola Rapaport (Hair let the sun shine in) spent 7 years fund raising in order to cover her film's budget, until a French channel came onboard. However, she says that she believes that the most important motive us the passion that leads anyone to make a documentary.

Sotiris Danezis the explained that his series War Zone, is broadcast at a time - midnight - where ratings don't play any particular role. However, he agreed that they are the main guide for television networks and channels. "I'm one of the lucky ones, because my work is not judged by ratings, but by viewer reaction, which is incredible. The channel, values this, as well as the positive press reviews the series has received".

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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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