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Greek critics cry censorship at Thessaloniki


- Following a series of journalist-blacklisting, local critics’ guild releases scathing statement, calling fest director antidemocratic

Greek critics cry censorship at Thessaloniki
Dimitri Eipides

Culminating in a clash that has been developing for the past three years, the Greek Critics Guild released a statement on Thursday, noting that, “director Dimitri Eipides’ actions are harmful to the fest, as well as to free thought and democracy”.

The battle between the institutions originates from a display of discontent on the festival’s side towards the Guild and its habit of criticizing the fest when handing out the Greek Critics Guild award at Thessaloniki’s closing gala. In 2012, the fest removed the Guild’s Award from the gala’s list of prizes, noting that the TV station transmitting the event had requested its air-time be clipped.

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Greek FIPRESCI members, who were also members of the Guild, as per FIPRESCI regulations, continually remarked the lack of Guild representation, during both the TIFF awards in 2012 and those of Thessaloniki’s documentary fest in March 2013. Both journalists were denied invites to this year’s festival, while one of them who did apply for accreditation, was denied that as well.

Guild president Andreas Tyros and general secretary Nestoras Poulakos were also absent from the list of fest invitees, while the latter was also denied accreditation. Journalist Elsa Spyridopoulou, a Thessaloniki resident who was granted accreditation, was later stripped of it. Spyridopoulou is not a Guild member, but is a correspondent for the Athens-based paper that also employs Poulakos.

Dimitri Eipides said: “These people have repeatedly offended both the festival and me personally, should I turn the other cheek? I want them to know that this festival is something they no longer have access to, it’s no place for opportunists: they are personae non gratae. I can be terribly harsh on this.”

“Describing the protest as libel, [Eipides] denies critics and journalists the right of entry and the right to exercise their profession,” note the critics. A largely publicly funded entity, the Thessaloniki International Film Festival marked another first this year, by compiling a FIPRESCI jury that carried no Greek representation.

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