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The Greek Documentaries of the 24th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival

In Film & TV 23 February, 2022

Eva Peydró

Eva Peydró

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From 10 to 20 March 2022, both in physical spaces and online, Greek documentaries, vibrant, multifaceted and pluralistic, take center stage at the 24th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival. Within the framework of the 24th TDF, 77 full-length and short docs are screened as part of the three competition sections: International Competition, Newcomers and >>Film Forward; the Open Horizons section of the international program, as well as the Platform and From Screen to Screen subsections of the Greek program. The movies encompassed in the three competition sections, as well as in the Open Horizons section, will be screened both physically and online.

In this year’s edition, the audience will have the opportunity to enjoy the film The Grocer (2013) by Dimitris Koutsiabasakos, in a universally accessible screening that will be held in collaboration with Alpha Bank, the Festival’s accessibility sponsor. Koutsiabasakos’ documentary, bestowed with the Audience Award within the context of the 15th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, will be accessible both in the Festival’s theaters and its online screenings.

Portraits of artists, the refugee-immigrant drama, LGBTQI+ issues, historical and social events that left their mark on the collective psyche, the unseen impact of the pandemic, stories of female empowerment and gender violence, as well as the fading traditions and customs of the Greek folklore heritage, are among the themes touched upon by Greek documentary filmmakers. The advisory commission that took on the task of preselecting the movies for the 24th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival was composed of film director and journalist Marianna Kakaounaki, film director Andreas Siadimas and film critic and journalist Tasos Chatziefraimidis.

Thessaloniki-Tesalónica

As to the special screenings, the film that stands out is The City and the City by Syllas Tzoumerkas and Christos Passalis, which runs through seven decades of Thessaloniki’s history, delving into the bitter ordeals suffered by the city’s Jewish community. The movie celebrated its world premiere at the Encounters competition section of the recent Berlinale. Another much-anticipated film in this section is the landmark documentary Tragedy in the Aegean Sea (1961) by Vasilis Maros, which records and unfolds the most prolific and tragic events of the 20th century Greek history. In addition, the 24th TDF will showcase 12 Greek documentary gems of the past, as part of the initiative “Motherland, I See You: The 20th Century of Greek Cinema”, hosted by the Hellenic Film Academy. This action, first held within the framework of the 62nd Thessaloniki Film Festival, last November, is a program dedicated to salvaging, digitizing, screening and studying films from the rich legacy of 20th-century Greek cinema.

International Competition

Femicidio, by Nina Maria Paschalidou, looks into femicides in Italy in the past years, and, trying to understand the reasons behind this rising. Our guide in this journey is Laura Roveri, a yoga teacher from Veneto. The Other Half by Giorgos Moutafis:

For 15 years, a photojournalist bears witness to migrant journeys across the dark crossings of European borders. Tilos Weddings by Panayotis Evangelidis: The film follows the story of the two first civil marriages ever done in Greece in 2008, from material that was shot then ad hoc and also the gay Pride of the same year, press conferences and other demonstrations concerning the same.

 Newcomers Competition

 Frugal Abundance by Frantzeska Romanou & Yorgos Savoglou tells the story of Vangelis, an old man who has been living for 30 years in a makeshift cabin at the edge of a rock on Cape Maleas in Peloponnese. This is a snapshot of his simple way of life and how self-sufficient he has become in return. Arm Wrestler by Yorgos Goussis:  Panagiotis moved from Athens to the countryside. Soon he gets upset with the mentality of the small society and decides to go back. Final Year by Lucas Paleocrassas: Sixteen-year old Sophia, Lhord and Alexandros have a hard time finding their place in a school that ignores their needs and are overwhelmed by the burdensome course requirements. Their lives are put on hold when a student occupation imposes a school lockdown…

Thessaloniki. Tesalónica

Femicidio, by Nina Maria Paschalidou.

>>Film Forward Competition

IODINE – Greece on the Ruins of Messolonghi by Orfeas Peretzis. This film is inspired by Delacroix’s painting “Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi”, the filmmaker records his thoughts, the daily life of the youths, he converses with local artists and poets in search of a connection between the painting and contemporary Messolonghi.

Last Voyage by Aris Chatzistefanou: Famous Greek artists Yannis Aggelakas and Olia Lazaridou read excerpts from the book A Journal of Two Voyages by Nikos Kazantzakis, while the director juxtaposes the narration with footage from modern Japan, an ode to the last journey of the author that shaped his worldview and cost him his life. Letter to Nikola by Hara Kaminara: With the form of an audiovisual letter, a photographer narrates to her unborn child her experience on the rescue ship Aquarius.

>>Film Forward Shorts

Iota Period Omega by Dimitris Alexiou: Shot on 8mm, is a sci-fi documentary. I.O is a girl from a future society, who works for the air force. As she waits to be teleported to a distant planet, through her visual diary that comprises fragments of memories and thoughts, she converses with our present time in an attempt to safeguard the memory of things worth preserving.

Last Voyage by Aris Chatzistefanou.

Open Horizons

A School Year Is like a Marriage by Georgios Giannopoulos: George works as a computer science teacher at an Athenian night school and tries to cope with the flood of problems caused by the pandemic. Will George be able to protect his mental and emotional balance? Airland by Haris Raftogiannis: “Reality does not exist”: This is the motto of the chaotic and open music band named “Aera Patera”. All that Rain Washed Away by Ioanna Tsilili: A walk around Kolonaki Square, the once sizzling spot of Athens, evokes the director’s memories from the lost glam of the early 2000s. Questions around the ways in which female identity is hammered and shaped rise in a circular motion. An Other Place by Panos Papagiannis & Dimitris Kalaitzis: Mount Athos is a recollection of divinity. A place whose residents experience a total breach of the traditional notion of time. Arcadia, Champagne d’Orient by Kostas Spiropoulos: At the Papanikolaou Brothers Winery we meet the patriarch father, the visionary son Vassilis, the adventurer brother Nikos, and a mother as strict as Cerberus. Producing Arcadian effervescent wines since 1885, they dream to transform the region into the Champagne of the East. And Broken Sound by Fivos Kontogiannis: Through the history of bouzouki, offers an overview of the narrative, as well as a cultural identity of modern Greek society.

Farewell – The Memory of the Land by Stavros Psillakis: An 87-year-old persecuted and declared guerrilla, Giannis Lionakis, bids a farewell trip to the place that defined his life. Far.Go.Bots by Angelos Tsaousis: The children of the first-ever Roma Robotics team, struggle to overcome the segregation of their community, travel all the way to the USA, finish school and change their life paths. Ι Saw a City by Stelios Efstathopoulos: I saw a city, which unexpectedly lost its sounds. This wandering reveals a new reality that leads us down a whole different path of questions and contemplation. Into the Land of Ice and Fire: The film is inspired by the contemporary life of the indigenous people inhabiting the European Arctic region, the Sámi. Live-in by Laura Maragoudaki, Tatiana Mavromati: is a portrait of domestic work, as experienced by Georgian live-in maids working in Greece. Memories with a Tail by Dimitris Indares: A 90-year-old painter, a neuroscientist, and a marine ecology biologist meet in Αmvrakikos bay, an ecosystem of great natural wealth and history. My Grandfather Papaflessas by Kleoni Flessa: A tender look at the hero of the Greek Revolution of 1821. What sets the heroes apart? Do they have mitigating factors? Nowhere to Go by Lukas Agelastos & Spiridoula Gouskou: Through the lives and problems of three homeless people in Athens, the documentary explores the state’s failure to provide a safety net and examines possible solutions.

Thessaloniki

Letter to Nikola by Hara Kaminara.

The Bet by Maria Leonida: Quarantine and distance learning, 2021.Τhe viewer will decide who finally wins physical presence or e-learning? The Downtown Refuge by Fenia Papadodima: Omonia 2021, here existed for a hundred years, a refuge for the destitute and poor. The Athens’ Polyclinic founded by the Alivizatos brothers. The Itinerary by Orestis Athanasopoulos: Following a bus service that delivers food parcels and miscellaneous items to Greeks living in Western Europe, this film looks at how people use material goods to construct relationships with a real and imagined homeland.

The Pomegranates of Nagorno Karabakh by Thomas Sideris: A cinematic recording of the uprooting and wandering of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, with pomegranate as the central reference axis. The Promise by Kostas Pliakos: The practice of cremation of the dead in Greece had been a taboo for decades both for politicians and the Orthodox Church. It took 23 years to finally have legislation to allow the creation of the first crematorium in Greece. The Students of Umberto Primo by Alessandra Maioletti: 96% of the Jewish population in Thessaloniki was sent to Auschwitz. The adventures, hopes and dreams of 9 Jewish students of the Italian School Umberto Primo come to life.

Voutes by Anastasios Gkinosatis is a film depicting Perama, a working-class district of Athens, by following Panayiotis and Fotis while observing their pigeon-keeping practice. And Women Fighters – The Triple Liberation by Leonidas Vardaros.

Tesalónica - Thessaloniki

Final Year by Lucas Paleocrassas.

The Platform and From screen to Screen movies will be screened exclusively online, through the digital platform of the Festival.

Platform

+1 by Argyris Liapis, 5 ½ Years by Myrto Symeonidou & Ioanna Papaioannou; 21 – The Battle of the Square / Behind the Sketches by Meletis Miras; 100% Raptopoulos by Savvas Houliaras; Agape (Love) is the Most Beautiful Word in Greek: Unaccompanied Refugee Minors in Greek Schools by Gina Georgiadou; Alphonso Ford – Score Until the Last Day by Aris Tsiaras; Anthropause by Christos Godas; Apeiros by Themistocles Lambridis; Assomoud – House of the Resilient Children by Francesca Zonaras; Boudalia by Konstantinos Ioakeimidis; “By the Light of Thine Lights” – 200 Years of Greece by Constantin Pilavios; Chimera by Nikos Kostopoulos; Chronis Botsoglou: “I Was There Too and I Was Treated with a Plate of Lentil Soup …” by Freddy Vianellis; Clean Cities by Marina Danezi, Kostas Mandilas, Constantinos Hadzinikolaou, Christos Sarris; Crafting Futures by Michalis Kastanidis & Io Chaviara; Feel Your Heartbeat: The Film by Periklis Papandreopoulos; Hellenic Places: Hermoupolis by Charalambos Margaritis; Improvisation in Parallel Mode by Petros Kolotouros; Indigenius Loci by Vicky Markolefa; Microbiome by Stavros Petropoulos; Rooms with a View by Nickolas Papadimitriou and Nikoleta Parashi; Shadow Fighting by Katerina Eleonora Tsialiou; The Aging Land by Giorgos Oikonomou & Dimitris Trompoukis; The Autistic Character in Greek Cinema by Maria Papadopoulou; The Brigands’ Chieftain by Marios Gasparis; The Day the Birds Silenced by Spyridon; The Greek Bar Jacket by Marianna Economou; The Improvisation of Petros Mokas by Tasos Georgiou; The Jews of Corfu by Mirjan Gjergjevica; The Last Child of Arki Island by Clémentine Athanasiadis και Sébastien Daguerressar; The Place Between Was & Will Be by Theo Panagopoulos; The Sound of Colors by Panagiotis Papoutsis; The Sound of Folk by Yannis Christidis; Time Taking Shape: 1821 Before and After by Kyriakos Gikas & Kyriaki Virou; Third Place Ticket by Yorgos Kikidis & Panagiotis Papadopoulos; What Remained of Nikos Louvris? by Nikos Theodosiou; Where Do the Kids Fly? by Yorgos Chr. Zervas; Vidisova by George Panagopoulos.

Frugal Abundance by Frantzeska Romanou and Yorgos Savoglou.

From Screen to Screen

Christos Bokoros by Michalis Lykoudis; From “Me” to “We”: Emmanouil Benakis, a Fascinating Life by Nikos Megrelis; Macedonian Skies Ablaze – Wings of the Great War by Dimitris Chatzimalis; Marios Giannakou – Chasing the Impossible by Maria Giannouli; Memories Fossilized Deep Inside Her by Tania Chatzigeorgiou; North Evia: Stories from a scorched-earth by Konstantis Frangopoulos; Relationship Violence by Niovi Anazikou.

Special Screenings

The City and the City by Christos Passalis and Syllas Tzoumerkas: Six chapters depicting the life and the ordeals of the Jewish community of Thessaloniki are intertwined with today’s city. A co-production of the Greek National Opera and Homemade Films, with the collaboration of the Thessaloniki Film Festival, undertaken by Maria Drandaki and curated by Orestis Andreadakis. The project was granted the support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. The Grocer by Dimitris Koutsiabasakos; Tragedy in the Aegean Sea by Vasilis Maros;  Dimitris Skyllas: afterpop by Dimitris Zivopoulos.

 Motherland, I See You

Megara by Sakis Maniatis & Yorgos Tsemberopoulos: The first Greek film to ever address ecological issues empathizes with the farmers’ agony; ROM by Menelaos Karamaghiolis; The Struggle of the Blind by Maria Chatzimichali-Papaliou; Letters from America by Lakis Papastathis: The course of an immigrant’s life, as narrated by himself through a parcel of 120 postcards and photos, is transformed into a documentation of an entire nation’s uprooting. Last Stop, Creuzberg by Giorgos Karypidis; The Other Letter by Lambros Liaropoulos; Thirean Matins by Kostas Sfikas & Stavros Tornes;  Fournoi, A Female Society by Alinda Dimitriou & Nikos Kanakis; Plot by Theodoros Maragos; Tourkovounia by Lefteris Xanthopoulos; Athene by Eva Stefani;  Acropolis of Athens by Roviros Manthoulis.

Information from the festival’s press department.

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24th Thessaloniki Documentary FestivalMarianna KakaounakiAndreas SiadimasTasos Chatziefraimidis.

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