Thessaloniki Documentary Festival Awards: Here are the Films that Won

Greece’s biggest documentary festival came to a close on Sunday. Whether you were there or not, the films that won deserve to be watched and re-watched.

Over 200 films were screened at the 20th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, which took place on March 2-11. The boldest and strongest of them were the winners of the festival’s prestigious awards, chosen by juries comprised of skilled directors, artists, critics, producers, and professionals from around the world.

Aside from the festival’s own prestigious awards (the Golden Alexander which comes with an 8000 euro cash prize, two Special Jury awards for best international documentaries, two awards in the festival’s new category Virtual Reality Films, and two awards in the category Doc Market: Docs in Progress), cash prices were also given by the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation, and the Greek Film Centre.

The FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) gave two awards, one for a Greek and one for international production, and the Hellenic Parliament presented their Human Values Award.

Other awards were given by Fischer, WWF, Amnesty International, the Greek Film Critics Association, and a Youth Jury from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

The star of the awards, winning the Golden Alexander for Best Documentary, was the The Distant Barking of Dogs, a Danish, Finnish, and Swedish production by Simon Lereng Wilmont, focusing on one Ukranian family’s day-to-day life in the midst of war. The film was also awarded with the Hellenic Parliament’s Human Values Award, and the FIPRESCI award for Best Film in the international section.

The two Special Jury Awards went to the Brazilian film Baronesa by Juliana Antunes and the Turkish/Dutch production Meteors by Gürcan Keltek.

In the new Virtual Reality Films category, the winners were the British production Limbo by Shehani Fernando and the Dutch The Last Chair 1&2 by Anke Teunissen & Jessie van Vreden.

In the category Doc Market: Docs in Progress, awards and funding were given to the Greek documentary Seeds of Columbus by Marianna Economou, and French/Iranian Staring at the Sun, directed by Atieh Attarzadeh and Hesam Eslami. The Lithuanian/Esthonian Gentle Warriors, directed by Marija Stonyte, received special mention.

Fischer presented four audience awards: the Peter Wintonick Audience Award for a film over 50 minutes to the German/Syrian/Lebanese production Of Fathers and Sons by by Talal Derki; the Audience Award for a film under 50 minutes to the Nepali film The Last Honey Hunter by Ben Knight; the Audience Award for a Greek film under 50 minutes to Painting… by Dimitris Stamatis & Ioanna Neofytou; and the Audience Award for a Greek Film over 50 minutes to Back to the Top by Stratis Chatzielenoudas.

The last also received one of ERT Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation’s awards and cash prices. The second award and cash price from ERT went to the German film Riders of Destiny by Michael Niermann.

The WWF chose to award a film from the Habitat section of the festival, namely the multi-national production Thank You for the Rain, by Julia Dahr, about the impact of climate change on a small village in Kenya.

Amnesty International gave their awards to the French Everything’s Better than a Hooker by Ovidie, about a murder case in Sweden, and the German Israeli film Muhi – Generally Temporary by Rina Castelnuovo & Tamir Elterman – a film about a Palestinian boy who is growing up in an Israeli hospital.

A jury of students from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki gave two awards: to the Greek and French film Obscuro Barroco by Evangelia Kranioti, and the Greek A Tree Remembers by Kostas Follas.

Finally the Greek Film Centre gave their awards and cash prices to multi-national production Tiny Souls by Dina Naser–Jordan, and the Greek Antoni’s Voice by Christos Kapatos.

Other Greek Films that picked up distinctions were Marble Homeland by Menios Karayannis, which received the FIPRESCI Award for best Greek film participating in TDF’s International program sections, and Kostas Papagiorgis, the Sweetest Misanthrope by Eleni Alexandraki, which received an award from the Greek Film Critics Association.

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