Four Letters Apart [pictured] and Becoming an Actor among winners.

The 16th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival (TDF) and its concurrent Doc Film Market has unveiled the winners for its 2014 edition.

At the TDF, the Peter Wintonick Audience Award for a foreign feature length documentary went to Four Letters Apart by Erlend E. Mo (Denmark), while Dimitris Koutsiabasiakos’ Becoming an Actor was the recipient of the TDF Audience Award for Greek features.

Four Letters Apart centres on three children at odds with themselves and the world around them, at a time when more and more are being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The film, produced by Lise Lense-Møller, is sold by Danish outlet Magic Hours Films.

Becoming an Actor deals with a group of young actors, chronicling their anxieties and dreams throughout a three-year course of study. Produced by Koutsiabasiakos, the film is sold by the Greek production company KinoLab.

This is the second year in a row that Koutsabasiakos has won the award, following The Grocer last year, and he is now in development on his first feature fiction film.

Beach Boy by Emil Langballe (UK) and Social Conservatory - Notes by Thekla Malamou and Alexandra Saliba (Greece) won audience awards in the short film category, while the Fipresci awards went to On the Edge of the World by Claus Drexel (France) and Kalavryta - People and Shadows by Elias Yannakakis (Greece).

On the Edge of the World was produced by Daisy Day Films and sold internationally by Film Distribution. 

Kalavryta centers on the mass murders in Greek rural areas by the occupying German army during World War II as well as the rise of Nazi inspired extreme right political parties at present in the country. It was produced by Yannakakis and is sold by the director’s own outlet.

The EDN award went to Tue Steen Müller (Denmark) for a lifelong commitment to the documentary genre and for personally contributing to the outstanding development of the European documentary culture.

Festival programme

The festival, under the artistic direction of its founder Dimitri Eipides, offered a socially and politically oriented 200-strong selection across eleven sections, including three world, 12 international and eight European premieres.

Greece’s long-standing financial crisis took its toll on the festival too. The event was held on a reduced budget of €650,000, three quarters of which came from the EU’s NRDF scheme and the MEDIA programme. The rest was secured from private sponsors and admissions.

The NRDF money for the 2015 event is not guaranteed due to a bridge year in the scheme’s operation which, along with the Culture Ministry’s financial strains, could affect next year’s TDF.

Despite the lower budget, the programme, organisation and side events such as workshops and masterclasses were well received, with highlights from the international selection including Rithy Panh’s The Missing Picture and Drew Taylor & Larry Weinstein’s Our Man in Tehran.

Standing out among the 60 films-strong Greek selection were a number of productions bracing a harsh and no frills portrait of the country and its long-standing social, political and financial crisis. Among them was Stelios Kouloglou’s The Godmother, centring on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and George Avgeropoulos’ The Lost Sign of Democracy on the events that followed the abrupt closure of Greece’s public broadcaster ERT.

TDF also paid tribute to the late Canadian documentary filmmaker, producer and scholar Peter Wintonick (1953-2013) and to the French filmmaker Nicolas Philibert, who attended the festival. Philibert’s nine-title strong tribute included his award-winning To Be and to Have, while Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media was among the five titles of the late Wintonick’s to be screened.

Doc Film Market

Showcasing more than 500 titles, the Doc Film Market headed by Yianna Sari was attended by 60 foreign and local professionals, including TV commissioning editors and sales agents.

Present among others were Arte, Canal+ and Planete (France), Al Jazeera (UK), ZDF (Germany), Film Transit (Canada), YLE (Finland), HBO Europe (Hungary), TVE (Spain), RAI (Ιtaly), TG4 (Ireland), RΙΚ (Cyprus) and OTE TV (Greece).

The Docs in Progress award (accompanied by €15,000 towards post production services offered by the local Authorwave Post Production House) went to the French production Sad People Factory, directed by Michèle Dominici and produced by Karina Si Ahmed and Jean-François Lepetit (Flach Film Production).

Nine productions participated this year at the Docs in Progress section curated by Angeliki Vergou.

The European Documentary Network (EDN) also held its traditional Pitching Forum for the 16th year in a row with the participation of 21 projects.

For the full list of winners, visit TDF’s website.

Next year’s dates have been confirmed for March 6-14, 2015.