“A House Made of Splinters” Wins Top Prize at Greece’s Biggest Documentary Festival

Simon Lereng Wilmont's poignant film about an orphanage in eastern Ukraine wins the Golden Alexander Award at this year’s Thessaloniki Documentary Festival.


Greece’s biggest and most prestigious documentary film festival came to end on Sunday, having screened 233 full-length and short film documentaries over the course of 10 days in Thessaloniki.

The 24th edition of the hugely popular Thessaloniki Documentary Festival (TDF), which ran from 10th to 20th March, took place in both physical theaters in the northern Greek city and online through the festival’s digital platform.

 

One of the top events on the film festival circuit in Europe, the TDF, which features three competition sections of 12 films each, is attended by some of the industry’s most talented directors, artists and producers. The winners of each section take home a “Golden Alexander” award and a cash prize. The winner of the International Competition section, with a duration of over 70 minutes, is also added to the pre-selection shortlist for the Best Documentary category of the Academy Awards in Hollywood.

The Golden Alexander in this year’s International Competition, accompanied by a 12,000-euro cash prize, was awarded to the film “A House Made of Splinters” by Danish director Simon Lereng Wilmont.

The Denmark-Finland-Sweden-Ukraine production tells the poignant and deeply intimate story of three children in an orphanage in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, isolated during the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing armed conflict with Russia.

Simon Lereng Wilmont won the same competition in 2018 with the film “The Distant Barking of Dogs,” also set in Ukraine.

In announcing the award, the competition’s jury, which comprised of Dimitris Koutsiabasakos, director and Associate Professor at the Film School of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, director Alexandre O. Philippe, and director-screenwriter, Laila Pakalnina, said: “The Golden Alexander Award goes to an unforgettable film that shines a light on the burden carried by children for the horrors and mistakes perpetrated by the world of the adults who should be caring for them.”

The Special Jury Award in the same competition, accompanied by a 5,000-euro cash prize, was awarded to “Young Plato” by Declan McGrath & Neasa Ní Chianáin. Set in north Belfast in Northern Ireland, in a community scarred by the decades-long Troubles, this UK-Ireland-France-Belgium production tells the extraordinary story of a primary school head who uses the teachings of Classical Greek philosophers to develop new modes of thinking and strategies to diffuse violence.

 

A complete list of the winners of this year’s TDF, including the Newcomers Competition and the Film Forward Competition, can be found here.


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