The power of short films at Thessaloniki festival

As the fifth Thessaloniki Documentary Festival – «Images of the 21st Century,» opens its doors on Friday with screenings at the Olympion cinema, organizers are stressing that the event has reached its most ambitious stage to date. Organized by the Thessaloniki Film Festival, the Ministry of Culture in collaboration with ERT and the support of the Greek Film Center, this year’s festival is expanding: Running for 10 days instead of a week, it features more films than previous years (147 in all), while establishing an official category for Greek documentaries with an official competition and a screening panorama. «From the start, the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival was a challenge. Now the time has come for it to face new challenges, beginning with its ability to stand on equal par with similar events around the world,» said Dimitris Eipidis, the festival’s founder and director. Short films from around the globe participating at the Thessaloniki festival this year fall under five categories: «Stories to Tell,» «Views of the World,» «Habitat,» «Portraits: Human Journeys» and «The Recording of Memory.» Furthermore, there is a section on contemporary issues and social action, which this year focuses on Palestine – screenings will be complemented by a round-table discussion on «Palestine: Children and War.» Scheduled for March 5, it will take place at the Museum of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Musical Instruments. Also on the festival’s schedule are another two categories, «Music» and «Night Shadows,» two subjects which have already established a faithful audience from previous years. This year’s spotlight on documentary filmmakers falls on leading American director Michael Moore, with screenings of «Bowling for Columbine,» and «Canadian Bacon,» among others, Margaret Smilow, an American documentary producer who specializes in profiles of 20th century women artists, and finally Nicholas Philibert, a French filmmaker. Tribute will also be paid to three Greek directors, Yiannis Smaragdis, Maria Hadzimichali-Papaliou and Apostolos Kryonas. The festival will also be generating business with the fifth International Documentary Fair running from March 3 to March 7. Running parallel to the festival (Kalfayan Gallery from March 1-14) will be an exhibition of controversial photos by Andres Serrano.