A whopping 184 films are set to screen at this year's Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, opening tonight (Friday) in the northern Greek city. The 8th annual doc event, kicking off this evening with Simone Aaberg Kaern & Magnus Bejmar's "Smiling In A Warzone — And the Art of Flying in Kabul", will continue through March 19th. Boasting an attendance that topped 20,000 last year, organizers have expanded the event to additional venues the 2006 event. Artistic director Dimitri Eipides, familiar to festivalgoers for his work on the international film festivals in Toronto and Reykjavik, will this year focus on Globalization, Africa and the Politics of Violence. With globalization as a primary theme, organizers plan to offer a program of eleven films and a one-day conference discussing the issue. Featured this year is a tribute to filmmaker Kim Longinotto, who will attend and participate and in a festival master class.
Another particular area of exploration for this year's fest is a program of thirteen documentaries from Nordic countries, as well as a tribute to Danish filmmaker Jon Bang Carlsen, including screenings of "It's Now or Never" and "Portrait of God," along with a master class.
The main sections of the event include Views of the World, exploring social interest topics, offering a total of 19 films this year. Among them are Philip Groning's "Die Grosse Stille" (Into Great Silence), Michael Peled's "China Blue," Michel Negroponte's "Methadonia," Doug Block's "51 Birch Street," Mark Becker's "Romantico," and James Longley's "Iraq In Fragments," winner of multiple awards at this year's Sundance Film Festival.
Sixteen films are set for the Stories to Tell section, including films that explore distinctive subjects. On tap include Adan Aliaga's "My Grandmother's House," Jessica Sanders' "After Innocence," Marc Isaacs' "Some Day My Prince Will Come," Valery Kontakos' "Who's On First," and Cameron Hickey & Lauren Feeney's "Garlic and Watermelons."
Other sections include: Portraits – Human Journeys, featuring films that focus on individuals; Stories to Tell, exploring distinctive subjects; Recordings of Memory exploring people and events that have shaped life or are a part of history; Habitat, about environmental issues; a section of music docs; Greek Panorama, delivering local productions, and a new section – dubbed Open Screen – that will feature films submitted for consideration, but not included in one of the curated Greek sections. A total of 88 Greek docs are on tap this year, with 96 international titles on tap for the festival.
Among the other highlights of the 2006 Thessaloniki Documentary Festival will include a three-day workshop with filmmaker Peter Wintonick ("Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media" and "Cinema Verite: Defining the Moment"), a doc market with some 400 films and 40 buyers in attendance, a pitching forum, and daily discussions between doc professionals from Greece and international festival visitors.
[David Wilson will be covering the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival for indieWIRE. We will publish his report after the conclusion of the event.]