The three competition sections of the 24th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival—International Competition, Newcomers Competition and >>Film Forward Competition—cast a critical and acute glance at the most heated issues of our times.
The International Competition includes Ramin Bahrani’s 2nd Chance, which unfolds the spectacular and ambivalent story of the bulletproof vest’s inventor. In A House Made of Splinters, Danish director Simon Lereng Wilmont focuses on the unseen heroes of the Ukrainian civil war, who offer shelter and comfort to kids who have lost everything. A Marble Travelogue by Sean Wang from China invites us to a marble’s Odyssey and permeates a world that commoditizes and merchandises the relics of human history and culture. Autobiographical Anima – My Father’s Dresses by German Uli Decker brings forth a family story that questions stereotypes and consolidated roles, while Long Live My Happy Head by Austen McCowan and Will Hewitt teaches us how art and humour can cast away the fear of death. In the heart-wrenching documentary Off the Rails by Peter Day, the dreams of escape of two young parkour athletes are intertwined with an unhealed trauma that haunts their childhood. Spanton vs The French Police by the multifaceted French artist Ovidie reminds us that violence against women remains an open wound of our world, by shedding light on a case that shocked French society. In the documentary Turn Your Body to the Sun (European premiere) by Dutch filmmaker Aliona van der Horst, the tragic story of a WWII Soviet soldier who experienced both captivity under the Nazi troops and the Stalin gulags takes centre stage. Young Plato by Declan McGrath and Neasa Ní Chianáin explores how Plato and Nietzsche overturn the suffocating and narrow-minded traditions in a Catholic school in Ireland.
In the Newcomers Competition, Caught in the Headlights by French filmmaker Thomas Devouge introduces a theatre collective that fuels a remoted French village with a breath of fresh air. Animation documentary Eternal Spring by Jason Loftus reenacts a spectacular story of political disobedience that stunned the Chinese regime. In Golden Land by Finnish Inka Achté, gold fever drives a young Finnish-Somalian to abandon the idle safety of Finland for a wild adventure at the Horn of Africa. In Malintzin 17 by Mara and Eugenio Polgovsky from Mexico, the loving intimacy between a father and his little daughter becomes a canvas for the bond between human existence and nature. In Melting Dreams by Slovenian Haidy Kancler, three young female skiers from Afghanistan travel to Europe in order to fulfil their dreams.
Robin Bank by Anna Giralt Gris from Barcelona lays down the story of a modern-time Robin Hood who robs banks instead of the Sheriff of Nottingham. In Sirens by the Emmy-winner American-Moroccan Rita Baghdadi, we embark on the tumultuous journey of the members of the first all-female metal band in the Middle East. In The Devil’s Drivers by Daniel Karsenty and Mohammed Abugeth, two Bedouin drivers risk their lives to have illegal workers cross the borders to Palestine, under the watchful eye of the Israeli army. The Newcomers Competition comes to its end with What Remains on the Way (international premiere) by Jakob Κrese and Danilo do Carmo, which outlines the immigrant drama through the story of a young mother and her four children.
For the >>Film Forward Competition, TDF sees Amateur from Spanish filmmaker Martín Gutiérrez binds together three seemingly unrelated stories, weaving an intimate and personal homeland. In Anachronic Chronicles: Voyages Inside/Out Asia by Lu Pan and Yu Araki, we are given an insight into how the launching and the wide use of the video camera radically changed everyday life, but also the way family memories are recorded for almost every household in the Far East. Dreams of the Sky Mausoleum by Russian Marianna Rybynok contemplates the notion of body. In Film Is Dead by Argentinian Juan Benitez Allassia, abandoned movie theatres in the director’s hometown are transformed into a living monument of time. Dutch director Oeke Hoogendijk, in Housewitz, turns the camera towards her mother and converses with the Holocaust ghosts, in a quirky story of seclusion and isolation. In Pobo “Tzu” – White Night by Tania Ximena and Yolloti Manuel Gómez Alvarado from Mexico, poetry and nature and interweaved in a ritual as old as time, while Sorrow Tamers by Finnish Mina Laamo is ruminating on the indiscernible layers of sorrow and grief. The Bride (international premiere) by Samira Guadagnuolo and Tiziano Doria offers a taste of the mystic traditions and the ancestral spiritual legacy of the Italian south. Finally, The Invitation (world premiere) by Fabrizio Maltese invites us to a poetic encounter between two top-notch filmmakers, Abderrahmane Sissako and recently deceased Pol Cruchten.