Tribute for the 50th anniversary since the restoration of Democracy in Greece!

The 26th Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival honors the completion of half a century since the restoration of the democratic regime in Greece with a series of events that render homage to the brave anti-dictatorship struggle, reminding us that Democracy is not only a form of government, but also an overall way of life and attitude that demands vigilance, sacrifices and self-reflection. 

Four films that recount dramatic events, unravel dark pages of the European political history, unfold stories of heroic people who courageously defended the democratic ideals, explore the true meaning of the notion of democracy, serving both as historical documents and as warning signals against the dangers of complaisance, totalitarianism, corruption and nepotism, will be screened within the context of the Festival’s initiatives for the celebration of this landmark anniversary. 

Among the tribute’s films one can single out legendary Rehearsal (1974) by Jules Dassin, a breathtaking film essay that balances between documentation and representation, through an admirable plot inspiration: the recording of the shooting of a film that revolves around the Athens Polytechnic uprising. Dassin’s film, featuring several of the most iconic figures of Greek culture who raise their voice against the dictatorship, pays tribute to the resistance of ordinary people, addressing a blatant attack against the military junta’s obscurantism. The movie was completed after the restoration of Democracy in Greece and was never distributed in Greek movie theaters, thus endowed with even greater historical and archival value as a cinema relic that sums up and condenses not only a gloomy era, but also the drive for change and the hope for a better world. 

Another film that stands out in the tribute is The Owl's Legacy: Democracy, or City of Dreams (1990) by Chris Marker, an in-depth study of Ancient Greece’s Direct Democracy and the way it evolves, taking the form of contemporary democratic regimes. At the same time, a wry glance at how the content and the meaning of certain pivotal and precious words (such as democracy) changes shape in the course of time and according to the given circumstances. 

The tribute’s films: 


David Bernet

Germany-France, 2015, 106'

A captivating and highly charged story about a group of politicians, trying to protect society from the dangers of Big Data and mass surveillance in a digital world. The Member of Parliament Jan Philipp Albrecht and Commissioner Viviane Reding attempt the impossible and decide to confront a tough political power structure, where intrigue, success and failure are so close together. David Bernet spent two and a half years accompanying the legislation process and condensed it into an astonishing documentary that depicts the state of today’s democracy with suspense and sensuality.

The Killing of a Journalist

Matt Sarnecki

Denmark, 2022, 101'

A young investigative journalist and his fiancée are brutally murdered in their home in Slovakia. Their deaths inspire the biggest protests in Slovakia since the fall of communism. The story takes an unexpected turn when a source leaks the secret murder case file to the murdered journalist’s colleagues. It includes the computers and encrypted communications of the assassination’s alleged mastermind, a businessman closely connected to the country’s ruling party. Trawling these encrypted messages, journalists discover that their country has been captured by corrupt oligarchs, judges and law enforcement officials. A reckoning awaits.

The Owl's Legacy: Democracy, or City of Dreams

Chris Marker

France, 1990, 27'

What exactly does the word “democracy” mean? Does it designate the ancient city-state or our contemporary political systems? What are the analogies or, on the contrary, the radical differences between realities separated by more than twenty centuries? Are certain functions suitable for all civilizations? Τhe third episode of Chris Marker’s legendary documentary series – which first aired on British state television in 1991 but remained in the dark for decades – returns to classical antiquity to make a bold parallel, familiarizing 21st-century audiences with a concept of the commons that seems primordial yet innovative, reinventing itself in every single manifestation.

The Rehearsal 

Jules Dassin

Greece, 1974, 88’

As the resistance against the junta was gathering momentum, Jules Dassin and Melina Mercouri, exiled from Greece for a number of years, continued their anti-dictatorial campaign in Europe and America. Made in 1974, this impossible-to-categorize film essay on popular uprisings by Dassin depicts the rehearsals and the shooting of a film about the Athens Polytechnic uprising in 1973 and the torture of people who opposed the regime. Dassin combined documentary, re-enactment, Brechtian structure, prose, music, and his own thoughts and experiences in a film bursting with energy, pain, and hope. Theodorakis and Markopoulos performed their songs live, and Melina Mercouri read The Star Lantern from Odysseas Elytis’s poem To Axion Esti, while other artists read poetry, prisoners’ letters, and other documents, interspersed with newsreels and testimonials. The Rehearsal was completed just as the junta collapsed and never found theatrical release, forever remaining an artistic and political riddle.

Open discussion - Book presentation

On Saturday March 16th (13:00), at Warehouse C, an open discussion featuring high-esteemed members of the Greek Parliament (current MPs, current and former Ministers) will be held, within the framework  presentation of the book Half a Century of Elections: Discussing the Contests of the Metapolitefsi (Polis publishing house), edited by Petros Ioannidis and Elias Tsaousakis, Polis Publications. This book records a pivotal aspect of the Third Hellenic Republic: all the national elections of the Metapolitefsi period, from the collapse of the military junta in 1974 to the most recent elections in 2023. The core and basis of the present volume are 17 podcasts, discussions with important interlocutors, academics, experts in political science, communication, history, and journalism, familiar with each election and the respective historical period covered by each expert. 

The texts in this volume highlight the particular features of each electoral battle, the points of contact, the role of the international situation, the parties’ agendas and, of course, the electoral geography and behavior, the way in which citizens voted. Wandering through all these electoral contests is also a way of trying to find an answer to the question: What is the Metapolitefsi, anyway? The presentation will be accompanied by a discussion with the authors Petros Ioannidis, Political Analyst and Ilias Tsaousakis, Political Scientist and with: Anna Efthymiou Member of Parliament for New Democracy Thessaloniki A, Sokratis Famellos, President of the SYRIZA Parliamentary Group, former Minister, Member of Parliament Thessaloniki B, Pavlos Geroulanos, Member of Parliament for PASOK Athens A, former Minister and Effie Achtsioglou Member of Parliament for NEA ARISTERA Athens B2 Constituency (West), former Minister. The discussion will be moderated by Rania Tzima, journalist. The discussion will be moderated by journalist Rania Tzima.

A Discussion for the Ombudsman

On Thursday March 14th (16:00) the event “Listening to those who don’t have a voice: a discussion for the Ombudsman” will be held at Olympion’s Green Room. The Greek and Dutch Ombudsmen will discuss for the first time at the TiDF the issues raised in the films of the program, issues in which they themselves have intervened as independent authorities at both national and European level: the protection and promotion of human rights, combating discrimination, the phenomenon of migration and refugee flows, and the effects of the climate crisis, among many others. The members of the discussion panel are: Andreas Pottakis, Greek Ombudsman, President of the European Board of Directors of International Ombudsman Institute (until May 2024);  Reinier van Zutphen, National Ombudsman of the Netherlands, President of the European Board of Directors of International Ombudsman Institute (from May 2024); and Susanna Terstal, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Greece.