Our take: One of the few spring documentary festivals in Europe is also one of the best, with a strong selection of international titles (including from the US). A contained fest in a major metropolitan center (2nd largest in Greece, a port on the Aegean Sea) with some of the best social engineering of any fests on the circuit - lunches and dinners are legendary and the guest list of international filmmakers is strong. The European Documentary Network runs a pitching forum here that attracts international commissioning editors and financiers.
Selection of US films screened at 2009 festival: DEAR ZACHARY, PRODIGAL SONS, SECRECY, THE BETRAYAL, CRUDE, FLYING ON ONE ENGINE, VALENTINO: THE LAST EMPEROR, KASSIM THE DREAM, EVERY LITTLE STEP
Our coverage of Thessaloniki here.
Filmmaker: "Went as part of the EDN pitching workshop. The festival catalog looked amazing but we had no time to see anything. It was a great setting though in any case. I do recommend the EDN pitching workshops- the smaller ones in Barcelona, Lisbon and probably most of all the Thessaloniki one. A great way to pitch and meet broadcasters outside of the scarier gladiator-like settings of IDFA and the TDF if you are actually pitching at the table."
Filmmaker: "they paid for my hotel for at least some of my stay (I can't remember exactly). We went at the beginning of the festival which is not great for industry as it picks up in the second part. Still met some great filmmakers and some sales agents there. Some of their venues are way too far out - empty screenings as you would have to take a taxi to get there. I really liked the atmosphere though - lovely place, nice people. Programming-wise nothing stands out, I think I liked the films they showed, good mix."
Filmmaker: "Curatorial smarts. Sidebars, retrospectives and awareness both of topics and practice very strong. Balkan and European stuff I haven't seen programmed elsewhere a strong part of the mix. Plus filmmakers who wouldn't necessarily travel to the U.S. or even to Western Europe."
Industry: "A really wonderful festival. It’s the right size with the right amount of things going on for the right amount of days in the right location. Dmitri is a really good programmer. Filmmakers give a talk, so you get to hear them talk about things. There are wonderful lunches and dinners. They’re the kind of things that you remember because they are so fabulous. Everything is in the same location – there’s a bar, the panels are there, the cinemas are there, the hotel is right across the street. It’s a really good event and a bit of a secret. It’s really easy to meet industry people there too."
Industry: "A lovely event by the sea, with an EDN run forum which is one of their better initiatives. A wide selection of films, though rarely much you haven't seen before."