Mermaid Award

The Mermaid Award is presented by the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival to the best LGBTQI+ themed film from the Festival’s official selection. The prize, accompanied by a €3,000 cash prize, is awarded by a three-member jury. The members of this year’s committee are: Dimitris Papanikolaou; Professor of Modern Greek and Comparative Cultural Studies at the University of Oxford; Simon(e) van Saarloos, author and curator; and Shane Smith, documentary consultant and festival strategist.


Dimitris Papanikolaou
Dimitris Papanikolaou is Professor of Modern Greek and Comparative Cultural Studies and Fellow of St. Cross College, University of Oxford. He studied Classics, Modern Greek, and Comparative Literature at the University of Athens and University College London (London). He was Andrew G. Mellon postdoctoral fellow in the Humanities (UCL, 2002–2004) and has also held fellowships at Princeton (Seeger Visiting Fellowship in Hellenic Studies, Dec. 2006 – Feb. 2007), Columbia (ICLS teaching fellowship, 2014), and NYU (Remarque Institute visiting fellowship, 2012). He has also worked for long spells as a journalist (Greek newspaper Ependytis and BBC World Service) and as a literary critic or columnist with Greek national newspapers and magazines, among which Ta Nea and Unfollow. He has written the monographs: Singing Poets: Literature and Popular Music in France and Greece (Legenda, 2007), Those People Made Like Me: C.P. Cavafy and the Poetics of Sexuality (Patakis, 2014, in Greek), and There is Something About the Family: Nation, Desire, and Kinship in a Time of Crisis (Patakis, 2018, in Greek). His book Greek Weird Wave: A Cinema of Biopolitics was published by Edinburgh University Press in 2021.


Simon(e) van SaarloosSimon(e) van Saarloos is the author of Playing Monogamy, Take ’em Down. Scattered Monuments and Queer Forgetting, and Against Ageism. A Queer Manifesto, as well as several books in Dutch: Herdenken herdacht; Enz. Het Wildersproces; Het monogame drama; the novel De vrouw die, and the collection of columns Ik deug / deug niet. They work as a freelance curator of public programming and artistic collaborations. Recent projects include the museum installation Cruising Gezi Park, the spread of a mo(nu)ment, the International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam’s 2022 and 2023 queer program Not Yet Yes and Contagious & Queer, the 2023 lecture series Juicy Refuge at Rietveld Academy’s Studium Generale, the Non-Monogamy Letters with Kim TallBear, the Asterisk Podcast and the ABUNDANCE exhibition at Het HEM, and the multi-year transnational queer community, nightlife and art project Through the Window. Van Saarloos also writes fiction. Recent productions include the short sci-fi story “Dreamdead Surrender” (Postmodern Culture) and De Foetushemel, a theater play about abortion and violent resistance for Ulrike Quade Company at Bellevue Theater Amsterdam. They have participated in artist residencies such as the KAVLI Institute for Nanosciences, Deltaworkers New Orleans, and Be Mobile Create Together at IKSV in Istanbul. Van Saarloos currently pursues a PhD in Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley.


Shane Smith
Shane Smith is a documentary consultant and festival strategist. From 2015 until 2023 he was programming and artistic director at Hot Docs, North America's largest Festival and Market for documentary film. Smith previously worked at the Toronto International Film Festival as the director of special projects, where he oversaw initiatives and events at TIFF Bell Lightbox including TIFF in the Park, Nuit Blanche, the digiPlaySpace traveling exhibition and Short Cuts International programming for TIFF. Beforehand, he was the director of public programs at TIFF. Prior to joining TIFF, he worked as Executive Producer, In-Flight Entertainment at Spafax, overseeing all entertainment offerings on Air Canada. He was previously Director of Programming at Channel Zero Inc. overseeing the digital cable operators programming of Silver Screen Classics and Movieolathe Short Film Channel. Other positions include Director of the CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival, Short Film Programmer for the Sundance Film Festival, founder and co-director of OzFlix: Australian Film Weekend, and programmer for Inside Out LGBTQI+ Film Festival. Smith has served on juries and spoken on panels at many Festivals and events globally.