Agora Industry Awards

Source: Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival

Agora Industry Awards

Palestinian title If These Stones Could Talk has won the first ever IEFTA (International Emerging Film Talents Association) Award for Best Documentary in Development, worth €10,000, at Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival’s Agora industry event.

The film, directed by Hana Elias and produced by Asmahan Bkera, follows a Palestinian man’s return to his hometown to build a house for his family. As the family tends their land, they confront their estrangement from the country as Palestinian citizens of Israel.

“With warmth and authenticity, this project portrays a family’s relationship with both each other and their land in an intimate way. A powerful pitch from a strong team, with an urgent story that must be championed,” said the the jury, consisting of Swedish producer Mario Adamson, Sheffield DocFest’s Sophie Duncan and and Cinephil sales agent Suzanne Nodale.

The Onassis Film Award, worth €5,000, and reserved for one of the Greek projects taking part in the Thessaloniki Pitching Forum or the Agora Docs in Progress, went to Marianna Economou’s Dark Waters produced by Rea Apostolides and Yuri Averof of Anemon Productions. The co-producer is Paul Cadieux and Danae Elon.

The film unfolds in the ancient Greek city of Elefsina where Kostas, a 70-year-old deep-sea diver, is battling industrial decay as the tries to salvage shipwrecks contaminating the bay. “A profound, comprehensive, multidimensional narrative that surprised us and left us with a lot to think about,” was the jurors’ verdict on the project.

The ERT – Thessaloniki Pitching Forum Award to a Greek project, accompanied by a cash prize of €2,000, went to Survivors directed by Nina-Maria Paschalidou and Maria Louka, and produced by Mina Dreki and Iro Aidoni of Marni Films.

The Eurodoc Award, worth €1,000, was won by Mountain Cries directed by Lavinia Xausa, and produced by Sam Godfried of Yalla docs. The same film also picked up the DAE - Documentary Association of Europe Award which comes with free consultation and membership of DAE.

A number of other titles also picked up smaller awards, among them Maša Nešković’s Kafka In Belgrade, Nikos Ziogas’s Lake, Nela Märki’s Why The F**K Am I So Sad? and Stephanie Andreou’s Women Walk Home.

Meanwhile, in the Agora Docs in Progress section, 11 projects from Southeastern Europe and the Mediterranean region were taking part in closed sessions exclusively for Thessaloniki’s invited industry professionals, sales agents, distributors, producers and festival programmers.

The jury for these titles consisted of Hanne Biermann, festivals and marketing manager at Film Harbour, Pierre-Alexis Chevit, head of Cannes Docs at the Marché du Film, and filmmaker/film curator Kumjana Novakova.

The 119 Marvila Studios Award, providing sound mixing services to the winner, was given by the jury to Sari Haragonics’s Don’t Worry, Sari!. The 2|35 Post-Production Main Award went to María Silvia Esteve’s Malin, and The Greek Film Center Award, worth €3000, went to Eirini Vourloumis’ The Secrets Of The Owl. Meanwhile, Lucas Habte’s Happy You’re Here won the The Neaniko Plano Subtitling Award .

400 international visitors attended this year’s Agora. There was a generally upbeat response to the projects selected. Industry veteran Jan Rofekamp of Films Transit, who has been advising some of the participants, hailed the event’s importance in showcasing new Greek documentary in particular in the international marketplace. However, he also warned that with “the extraordinary volume” of docs now in the marketplace, relatively few of the titles being pitched in Thessaloniki are likely to be picked up.

“Sales agents need possible awards winners, filmmakers with a name or subjects that are very current and treated in an international way,” Rofekamp explained.