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The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival’s Agora announces this year’s winners


- The industry section of the gathering organised a range of activities and showcased new technologies for its over 400 international attendees

The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival’s Agora announces this year’s winners
The winners of the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival’s Agora

The 25th Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival’s (TiDF’s) Agora announced its award winners on 8 March. This year, Agora utilised various tools and new technologies to present a range of activities and support successful initiatives, both in physical spaces and online. With over 400 international attendees, this year's Agora was a resounding success.

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In the Thessaloniki Pitching Forum, the co-production and co-financing platform of the TiDF intended for creative and TV documentaries, the international jury consisted of Eleni Chandrinou, a consultant and producer (Cigale Films, Belgium); Nevena Milašinović, a sales and acquisitions executive (Lightdox, Switzerland); and Sara Rüster, an international distribution manager at the Swedish Film Institute. They picked The Native Dance, directed by Alaa Dajani, and produced by Kesmat El Sayed and Laura Kloeckner (SEERA FILMS), as the winner of the €2,000 Thessaloniki Pitching Forum Award, as it “promises a compelling visual approach combining archive material and animation, telling the story of the British forcing peasants from Egypt to dig trenches in Europe during World War I”.

Greek director Athanassios Vassiliou’s The Man With the Broken Arm, which is being produced by Orlane Dumas (Les films de l'Aube Sauvage) and Konstantinos Vassilaros (StudioBauhaus), received the €2,000 ERT – Thessaloniki Pitching Forum Award, intended for a Greek project in the selection, as it is “a film that, through a painful personal story, will bring us into the darkness of the seven-year dictatorship in Greece in the 1970s”. The project also won the Mediterranean Film Institute Doc Award, which consists of free participation in the 2023 edition of the MFI Doc Lab, a script development programme dedicated to documentaries.

The DAE (Documentary Association of Europe) Award, offering consultations and a free DAE membership, was granted ex aequo to the projects Our Feminine Wars by Zaina Erhaim, “a strong project with a mosaic of voices from women in exile, [depicting] their journey to help each other to heal”, and Jana by Muhammad Reza Azadi, which “is about displacement, resilience and hope for a couple and their newborn child fleeing the Taliban”. Azadi’s project also snagged the newly established DOK Leipzig Accelerator Award, which offers two DOK Leipzig Co-Pro Market observer passes and accommodation.

Israeli filmmaker Roy Cohen’s Far From Maine received the Aylon Productions Digital Services Award, which will offer the digitisation of the film. The Beldocs Networking Award went to Maomi – Larger Than Life by Hungarian director Judit Oláh, which follows “a couple who have lived outside the norms for decades – a story told using beautiful archive material from their youth and footage from today”.

In the Docs in Progress section, the jury comprised sales agent Maëlle Guenegues (CAT&Docs, France); Laurien ten Houten, industry relations and talks manager at IDFA; and Greek distributor Ilias Georgiopoulos (Danaos Cinema and Danaos Films). They bestowed the 2|35 Post-production Award upon Post Love, directed by Alexis Taillant and produced by Nadège Labé (Wendigo Films), as it “sheds a warm and caring light on an issue that goes beyond the LGBTQ+ experience to speak to all of us, and the team approaches the characters with absolute respect”.

Savanna and the Mountain, directed and produced by Portuguese filmmaker Paulo Carneiro, and co-produced by Alex Piperno (La Pobladora Cine), received the Music and Sound Services Award by MuSou Music Group. The Greek Film Centre Award, endowed with €3,000, went to Sacred Way ~ 21KM by director Nikoleta Paraschi, dubbed “a parade of captivating figures and characters”. Meanwhile, the Neaniko Plano Subtitling Award was granted to The Gospel According to Ciretta by Caroline von der Tann. The Guidance Award by Paradiddle Pictures, providing advice on distribution, festivals, outreach and impact to one project in the Agora Lab section, was bestowed upon Katerina by Alkisti Efthymiou.

Finally, the Onassis Cinema Award, which comes with a cash prize of €5,000, aiming to support the Greek industry, was given to Holy Human Angel by Angeliki Aristomenopoulou, which was part of the Thessaloniki Pitching Forum, and which is being produced by Yuri Averof, Rea Apostolides (Anemon Productions), Vicky Miha (Asterisk*) and Heather Millard (Compass Films). It was described as “a moving story about a brave individual, about the acceptance offered by a family so tremendously supportive that it fills you with hope”.

Here is the full list of award winners:

Thessaloniki Pitching Forum awards

Thessaloniki Pitching Forum Award
The Native Dance - Alaa Dajani (Egypt/Germany)
Producers: Kesmat El Sayed, Laura Kloeckner (SEERA FILMS)

ERT – Thessaloniki Pitching Forum Award
The Man With the Broken Arm - Athanassios Vassiliou (France/Greece)
Producers: Orlane Dumas (Les films de l'Aube Sauvage), Konstantinos Vassilaros (StudioBauhaus)

DAE (Documentary Association of Europe) Award (ex aequo)
Jana - Muhammad Reza Azadi (Pakistan/Italy)
Producers: Ali Haider (Filmkhaana), Maaria Sayed (Draw4Films)

Our Feminine Wars - Zaina Erhaim (UK/Syria) - in collaboration with CIRCLE Women Doc Accelerator
Producer: Brian Hill (Century Films)

Aylon Productions Digital Award
Far From Maine - Roy Cohen (Israel/France)
Producers: Roy Cohen (Roy Cohen Films), Serge Gordey (Temps Noir)

Beldocs Networking Award
Maomi – Larger Than Life - Judit Oláh (Hungary/Germany/Poland)
Producers: Inez Mátis (Pi Productions), Annika Mayer (Majmun Films), Anna Stylińska, Katarzyna Slesicka (My Way Studio)

MFI Doc Lab Script 2 Film Workshop Award
The Man With the Broken Arm - Athanassios Vassiliou

DOK Leipzig Accelerator Award
Jana - Muhammad Reza Azadi

Docs in Progress awards

2|35 Post-production Award
Post Love - Alexis Taillant (France)
Producer: Nadège Labé (Wendigo Films)

Music and Sound Services Award by MuSou Music Group
Savanna and the Mountain - Paulo Carneiro (Portugal/Uruguay)
Producer: Paulo Carneiro (BAM BAM CINEMA)
Co-producer: Alex Piperno (La Pobladora Cine)

Greek Film Centre Award
Sacred Way ~ 21KM - Nikoleta Paraschi (Greece)
Producer: Maria Karagiannaki (Chase The Cut)
Co-producer: Nikoleta Paraschi

Neaniko Plano Subtitling Award
The Gospel According to Ciretta - Caroline von der Tann (Italy)
Producer: Antonella Di Nocera (Parallelo 41 Produzioni)

Agora Lab - Guidance Award
Katerina - Alkisti Efthymiou (Greece)
Producer: Mina Dreki (Marni Films)

Onassis Cinema Award
Holy Human Angel - Angeliki Aristomenopoulou (Greece/Iceland)
Producers: Yuri Averof, Rea Apostolides (Anemon Productions), Vicky Miha (Asterisk*), Heather Millard (Compass Films)

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