From the first year of its operation, the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Images of the 21st Century based the development of its program on sensitizing and informing the public on subjects affecting the global community. The aim of the Festival is to stimulate the viewers' conscience and to play an active role in providing alternative sources of information as well as entertainment, highlighting issues downplayed by the media and provoking a lively dialogue.
The sections comprising the program of the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Images of the 21st Century, each year revolve around a central theme, which is developed by focusing on contemporary social problems and bringing them to the forefront.
Views of the World
This program is mainly comprised of films concerned with contemporary issues of social and historical import - subjects dealing with human experience as it is shaped by social and political conditions. Film makers from every corner of the globe contribute their viewpoint on the reality which surrounds and affects them, creating a multicultural mosaic of opinions, experiences and condemnation. In total, these films invite the viewer to embrace all aspects of the world and to accept them as an integral part of his own reality.
Recordings of Memory
The films of the Recording of Memory section deal with events and people who have played a significant role in the shaping of contemporary reality, and are a living part of history. It is a selection of daring and different cinematic approaches to the always hazardous and demanding process that is the creation of a historical film document, thus offering a multifaceted portrait of History. The main focus of the section’s films is the broadening of personal and collective memory and the understanding of the past, and therefore, the present.
Portraits: Human Journeys
The human factor is the dominant element of this section, where life, everyday reality and multiple historical and cultural fluctuations decisively affect the narrative. They feature particular personal histories which either stand out from the mainstream as special cases, or by the use of isolated examples as a vehicle to penetrate the unknown world of smaller communities or of minorities.
Stories to Tell
Small, personal stories that stand out due to the particularity of their subjects and the ways they are recorded. The humanity that springs out of difficult or unusual circumstances embraces the films of the Stories to Tell section.
The relationship of man and nature, the consequences of human intrusion on the environment and the price which humanity "pays" as a result, are the main theme of this particular section. Its basic purpose is to sensitize us to view environmental issues not only as a personal duty towards nature, but also as an essential duty towards our own selves.
A much loved and very popular section of the programme of the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Images of the 21st Century, is that devoted to Musical Documentaries. New trends in music, biographies of great composers, known and unknown artists, retrospectives and analyses of different musical genres, as well as concerts, cover the international musical scene and each year invite the audience to discover it.
The constantly increasing interest of Greek directors proves that the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Images of the 21st Century is a basic draw for the promotion of their films. Films of varying subject matter, completed as independent productions, films which are supported by institutional financing organizations, films which are produced or co-financed mainly by state television, films by recognized and new Greek film makers come together and find their screening venue in Thessaloniki.
Greek documentaries are classified in different sections of the Festival according to their particular characteristics:
- In the Official Program Section, Greek documentaries are selected to participate, together with documentaries from all over the world, if they have not been screened publicly in Greece and Cyprus before the Festival takes place.
- In the Greek Panorama, also following a selection process, Greek documentaries which have either been screened at other festivals or have had commercial distribution participate.
- In Television Portraits, Greek documentaries focusing on great personalities of Greece and are destined for television are screened.
- Finally, in the Open Screen section, Greek documentaries which have submitted an application to the Festival and do not fall under any of the previous categories are screened.
Each year the Tributes screen films by distinguished directors with different cinematic points of view and inclinations, but with a similar dedication to the art of documentary film making. Aside from complete retrospectives, there are tributes - spotlights, which represent specific periods from the work of certain directors.
Amongst others, the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Images of the 21st Century has held tributes to the work of Werner Herzog, Bruce Weber, Monika Treut, Joris Ivens, Johan van der Keuken, David & Albert Maysles, Pirjo Honkasalo, Stefan Jarl and Kim Longinotto.