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Directors Anneta Papathanasiou (Τhe Nymphs of Hindu Kush), Katerina Patroni (Docville - 99 Laskareos St., Athens 61) and Lefteris Fylaktos (26.2 The Road to Here), whose films participate in the TDF international section, gave a press conference on Friday, March 18 2011.
Anneta Papathanasiou was inspired to make The Nymphs of Hindu Kush when she became acquainted with the world of the Kalasha people through her teacher Athanassios Lerounis. Lerounis is the driving force behind Greek Volunteers, an NGO funded by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which promotes the protection of the cultural heritage of the Kalasha people. The 40.000–strong Kalasha people –an ancient tribe living in northwestern Pakistan, who, according to tradition, are the descendants of Alexander the Great’s soldiers- worship nymphs, gods and pixies. They have managed to survive and safeguard their traditions, despite the fact that they are surrounded by 165 million Muslims.
When the filmmaker travelled to the mountains of Hindu Kush to meet them, she found out that, contrary to their Muslim counterparts, the women of the tribe do not cover their bodies with burqas, are free to get around unaccompanied and are allowed to separate from their husbands. The documentary was meant to focus exclusively on the Kalasha women, had it not been for a sudden reversal: the Taliban abducted Athanassios Lerounis from the cultural center he had created for the Kalasha and held him captive for seven months. They asked for 2 million dollars in ransom money and demanded the release of three of their own. “The Kalasha women were so upset this happened to one of their own, that they organized demonstrations and gave their first press conference ever, sitting there with their heads unveiled before forty Muslim journalists”, said the director. She added that the role played by the Kalasha women was instrumental in securing the hostage’s release, complementing the efforts of the Greek and Pakistani governments.
Katerina Patroni talked about her documentary Docville – Laskareos 99 St, Athens, which is the first episode of the Docville documentary series recording life in crisis–stricken Greek cities. The protagonists in her film are Zoe and Athina, two women in their fifties. One of them is the owner of a pet shop, while the other keeps a tailor shop. “In the film, I capture their agonizing effort to hold on to their shops, while they see one neighbourhood store after the other shut down”, said the filmmaker. Experiencing firsthand the daily life of her two protagonists, Mrs. Patroni was unable to adhere to the role of the neutral observer. “When they tell you ‘I can’t even afford to buy a pack of cigarettes’, you cannot stay detached. Personally speaking, it is impossible to pretend I wasn’t there”, she explained. The film does not give any clues as to what will happen to the two women. As the director explained “I doubt that my film can help them in some mysterious way”.
What inspired Fylaktos to make the documentary 26.2 The Road to Here was the Athens Classic Marathon. “The marathon is a good metaphor for the concept of exceeding your limits - especially for those finishing last”, said the filmmaker. With this idea in mind, Mr. Fylaktos started looking for his protagonist among the runners, until he met 50-year-old Becky, who travelled to Greece from the USA to run in the Marathon. Becky has a Ph.D. in psychology, is a Marathon runner and has also been the victim of abuse from her stepfather. When she was a teenager, she also lost her hearing (and has just recently acquired cochlear implants that allow her to hear). “When she told me her story, I was speechless. Until she was 42, Becky had never talked about what happened to her; even now, she is still trying to recover from her wounds”, said Mr. Fylaktos. He went on to note that the film is not only about Becky’s life, but also about the relationship of mutual trust that developed between them. Asked whether this relationship influenced the making of the film, the director replied: “Had I felt that my film was causing her trouble, I would have thrown it to the garbage. After a point, you are responsible for your subject”. Mr. Fylaktos said that Becky wanted the documentary to be more positive. After he consulted with her, he agreed to make some changes. Becky wanted the documentary to be helpful for people with similar experiences, since, as the film makes clear, going public was a huge step in her healing process.


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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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