The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival Gateway to the Oscars

by George Paschos

Great news for Greek documentary filmmakers! The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival recently announced that the Golden Alexander winner (the fest’s top honour) will be automatically eligible for Oscar consideration in the Documentary Feature category, standing a chance to win a nomination and – who knows? – even the highly coveted statuette!

More specifically, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences established a Documentary Feature Qualifying Festival List that comprises of 28 leading festivals around the world. The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival joins other heavy-hitters like the Berlinale, the Festival de Cannes, IDFA, HOT DOCS, Sheffield and Visions du Reel, a distinction that proves its influencer status on the global festival circuit.

Eleni Androutsopoulou, head of the Greek Film Department at TDF,  shared some thoughts on the festival’s success and its new role going forward. “The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival has conquered an important place on the global festival map,” she said. “The Academy’s gesture has strengthened our position, as well as the importance of our role in seeking out and promoting new talent, while at the same time it establishes a connection between the TDF and some of the  most important festivals around.” This will not doubt render the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival much more attractive to up-and-coming talent, as well as established filmmakers, who are looking for a platform that could push their work to another level.

Androutsopoulou mentioned how rewarding this has been for the staff that works day in and day out for the festival, stressing that this distinction could lead to further recognition for Greek documentary filmmaking, while motivating directors to stay engaged with their craft. “This development greatly enhances the prestige of our international competition section, where Greek films also participate, offering them the opportunity to win an Oscar nomination”. All Greek films participating in the festival compete equally against international productions, which is a huge boost for local directors and producers seeking global partnerships for their next projects.

In case you were wondering how the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival got on the Academy’s radar, it’s pretty simple: Both the TDF, taking place in March, and the TIFF, taking place in November under the same umbrella, are part of a wider network of international film organisations who interact regularly, eventually winning them a spot on the Top 28.

This will definitely shake things up in the non-fiction circles and we can only hope that next March will mark a new beginning for Greek Documentary, now that Uncle Oscar awaits!

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