Critique of voracious capitalism takes the prize in eventful ceremony

»Darwin’s Nightmare,» directed by Hubert Sauber, walked away from the Seventh Thessaloniki Documentary Festival with the 3,000-euro ERT3 Audience Award for a film of over 45 minutes in the international competition, during an eventful ceremony at the Olympion on Sunday. Audiences booed Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis when he made his entrance and chanted the name of Michel Demopoulos, the successful director of the Thessaloniki film and documentary festivals, who is being replaced by producer Despina Mouzaki in a government drive to replace the heads of all cinema-related institutions in Greece. In «Darwin’s Nightmare,» Sauber takes a ruthless look at the introduction in Tanzania’s Lake Victoria of the Nile perch, a species of fish as voracious as the capitalist forces that put it there, which annihilated local fish populations while locals struggled with starvation, AIDS and the loss of their livelihood. «Darwin’s Nightmare» has also been voted Best Documentary at the European Film Awards of 2004 and received the Vienna Film award from the Viennale. On the local front, the first prize for a Greek documentary in the same category was awarded to «Musical Communion,» directed by Giorgos Botsos. Here, three musicians living very different lives in various parts of Greece get together and discuss their musical influences. The award for a film of under 45 minutes in the international competition (1,500 euros), was awarded by Thessaloniki audiences, which totaled some 22,000, to Philip Di Fiore’s «Stranger: Bernie Worrell on Earth,» an American production of 2004, which looks at the life of an overlooked and eccentric musical mastermind. A climbing tragedy in the Himalayas is the subject of «Cho Oyu,» directed by Greece’s Pavlos Tsiandos, the winner of the under-45-minutes section award of 1,500 euros. Tsiandos follows a September 2003 expedition of Greek climbers on the peak of Cho Oyu before tragedy strikes. Last, but not least, the awards of the FIPRESCI (international federation of film critics) jury went to «The Three Rooms of Melancholia» by Finland’s Pirjo Honkasalo and «Elias Petropoulos: A World Underground» by Greece’s Kalliopi Legaki. With four awards from Venice and an Amnesty International – DOEN Foundation award from Amsterdam, Honkasalo’s award for his examination of the Chechen conflict through a Russian military academy for orphaned boys, a war-torn town and a children’s refugee camp, came as little surprise. In Legaki’s portrait of an important Greek folklorist, Petropoulos gives the final interview before his death.

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