Film about China’s rent-a-foreigner industry wins top prize at Thessaloniki doc fest


US director David Boreinstein on Sunday took the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival’s Golden Alexander for best feature over 50 minutes in the international competition for “Dream Empire,” in which he exposes the lucrative albeit surreal business of hiring white males to attract property buyers in China’s real-estate bubble.

The Denmark-produced film follows Yana, a 24-year-old rural migrant who moves to Chongqing to open an agency for hiring foreigners, designed to help Chinese real estate developers market their new projects, masquerading ghost towns into boomtowns on the day that potential investors and political officials visit.

The Golden Alexander award comes with a 5,000 euro cash prize, sponsored by the Municipality of Thessaloniki.

The Special Jury Award for a film over 50 minutes in the international competition section went to Rahul Jain’s debut documentary “Machines,” an intimate and visually-compelling portrait of the daily life of the workers in a gigantic textile factory in Gujarat, India. Jain, who divides his time between California and Delhi, captures modern-day poverty and dehumanizing physical labor conditions in a pre-industrial working context.

The Special Jury Award bestows a 2,000 euro cash prize, sponsored by Greek state broadcaster ERT.

“Machines” also swept the Human Values Award of the Greek Parliament, and the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) award.

Dominikos Ignatiadis’s “Village Potemkin,” which follows a former drug addict around Athens, won the Greek Film Critics’ Association Award.

Two hundred and thirteen documentaries, including 64 Greek productions, were screened at this year’s festival from March 3-12.

For a full list of the awards see here.