If November is the time for feature films in Thessaloniki, March is becoming synonymous with documentaries in the port city. Last year 15,000 people attended the Third Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, an event marked by the presence of filmmaker Albert Maysles. This year's lineup of over 100 films shifts the spotlight to three daring filmmakers: dramatic Werner Herzog, photographic Bruce Weber and gender-bending Monika Treut. As for the rest of the films, a handful of them are about famous folk (Marlene Dietrich, Elvis Presley and Augusto Pinochet), but most feature ignored, overlooked people. Brazilian cane workers, Russian prisoners, Greece's deaf community and many, many imperiled children of the 21st century feature large.
In focus too are environmental themes (in section "Habitat") and new technologies (examined in films like Peter Wintonick's "Seeing Is Believing").
If each year the festival gives Thessaloniki's student audiences a chance to journey the world, it provides local filmmakers with a forum for unveiling new work. This year there are over 20 local films, on subjects from actress Katina Paxinou to Zachynthos' Jewish community.
In the festival's fourth year, creative director Dimitris Eipides and his team have kept their sense of fun intact. They've included films like docu-comedy "That's Life" (about post-Communist confusion in one Romanian village), a "Diversions" section and an all-night movie marathon.
As in the past three festivals, a professional bent will be offered by two events: the European Documentary Market (international buyers examine over 250 films, March 6-9) and the European Documentary Network's Pitching Forum (25 regional producers pitch ideas to commissioning editors, March 6-10).
This year's exhibit is made up of Jacques Dufresne's photographs of silver screen greats, like directors Jim Jarmusch and Jane Campion, snapped at Montreal's thirty-year-old New Cinema/New Media Festival.
The Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival is organized by the Ministry of Culture, the Thessaloniki Film Festival and New Hellenic Television (NET), with the support of the Greek Film Centre and ET-3.