Fipresci Home the international federation of film critics  
  about us | festival reports | awards | undercurrent   contact | site map 
home > festival reports > Thessaloniki Documentary 2013  

coming soon

Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival 2013

They Glow in the Dark
"They Glow In The Dark" (Panagiotis Evangelidis)

The trials and tribulations of the economic crisis in contemporary Greek society have been at the forefront of recent news across the world. But what better place to begin to understand the context of that reality than through the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival (March 15-25, 2013) one of the top documentary festivals in the world. Set in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, but administered out of Athens, the Docfest was created 15 years ago by super programmer Dimitri Eipides. It is the documentary offspring sister to the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, which he also directs, and which since 1960 has been one of the world's oldest classic festivals. Thessaloniki is what I call my secret city. Founded in 315 BC, it is imbued with history. Named for the half-sister of Alexander the Great, who was born nearby, it was a major site in the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires.  St. Paul the Apostle wrote his first Epistle of the Bible's New Testament to the Thessalonians. It was a major centre for Judaism, until the German Nazi occupation of the city in the Second World War.

Now Thessaloniki is a crossroads for documentary. From this modern, cultural city of a million people, filled with many educational institutions, the festival draws a literate, activist audience approaching 50,000. Eipides has made the festival both a populist affair and one which attracts a fair number of directors, documentary industry people, buyers, distributors and broadcasters. I have been a fan of this very public festival since the very beginning, having attended most of the previous editions. Divided into thematic sections, the festival has a very big humanitarian streak in its heart. Human rights and environmental films vie for attention beside biographical portraits, views of the world, music and history docs. There are six main venues, most of them nearly full for each screening. The Greek films are almost always sold out.

The thing that differentiates the Thessaloniki Doc Fest from many others is a sense of social purpose. There are many parallel events. Over the years, I have attended conferences discussing the rights of children; one year the festival even organized a national telethon raising money with Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf for a project on the education of Afghani children.

There is a well-established documentary film market, a closed circuit online documentary catalogue, a live streaming of selected films to various towns and cities across the nation, and a documentaries-for-kids programme. This year one event showcased a film library to be housed in Thessaloniki's Film Museum and Cinematheque, in Warehouse in the City Port. The festival is also exemplary in the publishing of excellent books that go along with the major retrospectives; this year one, edited by Dimitris Kerkinos, honoured Chilean director Patricio Guzmán. There are also parallel projects such as art and photographic exhibits related to the festival. This year Thanos Stavropoulos and Iranian-Canadian photographer Babak Salard produced an online workshop Thessaloniki 101 with 14 young Greek photographers. Over the last 15 years the European Documentary Network (EDN) has also held The Docs in Thessaloniki / Pitching Forum 2013 workshop, organized by the EDN and the festival with the support of the EU MEDIA Program. The Forum has been instrumental in developing new talent from the region. After three days of intense training, producers and directors pitch new documentary projects on subjects gleaned from around the world, in two days of open pitching sessions before key broadcasters which also welcome all festival guests as observers.

The festival, over 15 editions, has been known for the quality of its master classes, lifetime awards, retrospectives, market talks and a lovely gem of an event, the annual Just Talking round-tables. Over the years the festival has pioneered long-distance video conferences with thinkers like Noam Chomsky, held before hundreds in the beautiful Olympian Theatre. There is a great conviviality here, where almost every professional is included at communal lunches at the Agora, or parties and musical concerts, which over the years have featured some great acts from the region. The hard-working staff must once again be congratulated for pulling off one of the great documentary festivals, despite economic hardships. The jury had to watch a rich diversity of Greek and international documentaries, some taking personal tracks, others in the direct cinema tradition, and yet other social docs with essay ambitions. We awarded Panayotis Evangelidis' They Glow in the Dark (Παναγιώτης Ευαγγελίδης), a moving and engaging film shot in New Orleans, the top Greek award; and Diego Gutierrez's Parts of a Family (Partes de una familia), a film with incredible personal access, which to this viewer had the qualities of a Bergman film. (Peter Wintonick).

Thessaloniki (Greece, Documentary Film Festival, March 15-24, 2013). Prize for best Greek documentary: They Glow In The Dark directed by Panagiotis Evangelidis. — Prize for best International Documentary: Parts Of A Family (Partes de una familia) directed by Diego Gutierrez (a Mexico-Netherlands co-production). Jury: Peter Wintonick, Canada, president ("POV Magazine"), Alberto Castellano, Italy ("Il Manifesto"), Kirsten Kieninger, Germany ("Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung"), Nikos Tsangarakis, Greece ("Patris").

Contacts And Credits. They Glow In The Dark (original title). Director: Panayotis Evangelidis. Script: Panayotis Evangelidis. Featuring: Jim Baysinger and Mikal Glaab. Cinematographer: Panayotis Evangelidis. Editing: Araseli Lemou. Sound: Nikos Constantinou. Music: Jim Baysinger. Producer: Amanda Livanou, Panayotis Evangelidis. Production: Amanda Livanou Production, Greece, Format: HDCam Color. Production Country: Greece. Duration: 68'. Production Year: 2013. World premiere in Stories to Tell Section at Thessaloniki. Print Source / World Sales: Rendezvous Pictures, France Philippe Tasca T. +33 9 5070 7830 www.rendezvouspictures.comParts Of A Family [Mexican Spanish title Partes de una familia]. Director: Diego Gutierrez. Photographer: Diego Gutierrez. Editor: Danniel Danniel. Sound: Mark Glynne. Production Country: Netherlands, Mexico. Duration: 83'. Format: Hdcam Colour. Production Year: 2012. Greek premiere in Stories to Tell Section at Thessaloniki. Producer: JB Macrander, Harmen Jalvingh, Diego Gutiérrez. Production: Bonanza Films, The Netherlands T +31 20 626 3801 F +31 20 627 0695,, Print Source / World Sales: Deckert Distribution, Germany Heino Deckert, T +49 341 215 6638, F +49 341 215 6639,,


They Glow In The Dark. "The International Critics Prize for best Greek documentary goes to a poignant, touching, humorous, and multi-layered account of a thing called Life. It's narrative and stylistic measures avoid all the traps, stereotypical and moralistic approaches usually found in conventional films that treat the delicate theme of omni-sexuality. Our choice is a humanist film, set in New Orleans, that examines gay friendship, sickness, intimacy, sexual identity, poverty, companionship and ultimately, a thing called Love."

Parts Of A Family. "The International Critics Prize for best international documentary goes to an account of an elderly couple, locked into fifty years of a once-loving marriage behind the bars of upper middle-class affluence in an isolated villa in Mexico City. They share a home but not their lives. As their marriage disintegrates before the camera of their filmmaker son, each copes with alienation on their very own terms. This is a cinematically distinct study of a strangling relationship that was once called love."


Different Kinds of Family. Kirsten Kieninger reviews the two FIPRESCI-Prize winning films. arrow.
A Life for the Freedom of Chile. The tribute to the cinema of Patricio Guzmán at the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival provided an important possibility not only to know the work of a great international director and a symbol of the political battle related to the Chile of Pinochet and Allende, but also to approach another period of making cinema and another stylistic and narrative concept of documentary. Alberto Castellano's report. arrow.
The Risk of Change. Nikos Tsagarakis reviewed Nikos Dayandas' latest movie, Little Land. arrow.
Festival Director Dimitri Eipides. This FIPRESCI article is about a man who knows how to create opportunities: Dimitri Eipides, the artistic director and founder of the Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival. By Peter Wintonick. arrow.



recent festivals


Thessaloniki Doc 2013

bullet. Index
bullet. Different Kinds of Family
bullet. A Life for the Freedom
bullet. The Risk of Change
bullet. Dimitri Eipides

Language editor:
Carmen Gray