Thessaloniki doc fest keeping it real

Thessaloniki doc fest keeping it real

In his 1968 “Don’t Look Back,” Donn Alan Pennebaker gave us a portrait of Bob Dylan that exposed little-known aspects of the legendary American folk singer-songwriter’s character, showing him to be a spiteful, shallow and humorless man as he followed him on tour in the United Kingdom in 1965. In one scene, Dylan lashes out against a reporter, saying that he would have been famous even without the help of the press, while in another, he and his manager are seen berating a hotel employee in the vulgarest of terms. Shot just before the artist chose to swap folk for rock, Pennebaker here adopts the role of observer and reveals the truth of what goes on behind the facade, in a loose narrative with little intervention.

This and other such fare is on the menu at the 25th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, running in the northern port city from March 2 to 12. The event’s main tribute, designed to give the audience a different perspective of the world, is titled “The Art of Reality: Beyond Observation” and includes titles like the groundbreaking “Chronicle of a Summer” (1961) by anthropologist and filmmaker Jean Rouch and sociologist Edgar Morin; Frederick Wiseman’s “Titicut Follies” (1967), which takes us inside a notorious asylum for the criminally insane; David MacDougall’s observation of the forced transformation of a traditional tribe in Uganda, “To Live with Herds” (1973); William Klein’s incisive 1969 portrait of the Greatest of All Time (GOAT), Muhammad Ali; but also the more recent “Honeyland” (2019), by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stevanov, hailed as one of the best documentaries of the last decade.

The tribute will be accompanied by a special bilingual edition, with articles written by distinguished theorists and authors.

In the meantime, respected Greek and foreign documentarists will talk about their work and the genre more generally in the masterclass series.

For details about the program, parallel events and tickets, visit

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