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17th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival 2015 - Main Tributes
27 February 2015
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The main tributes of the 17th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival – Images of the 21st Century (March 13-22, 2015) honour the work of two filmmakers: that of Austrian filmmaker Hubert Sauper and of Romanian director Alexandru Solomon. Both will attend the festival to present and discuss their work with the Thessaloniki audiences and guests.
Alexandru Solomon Tribute
Incredible stories from the past, shocking truths and lies, memory and reality: this is the work of Alexandru Solomon, one of the leading political documentary filmmakers in Romania.
Filmmaker, cinematographer and producer, Solomon was born in Bucharest in 1966. He studied in the Film and Theater Academy School and started working as a cinematographer, before he moved to documentary directing. An active producer as well, he has been developing projects since the 90s, focusing on co-productions with countries like the UK, Canada, France and Germany. He is also teaching at the Film School and within the Arts Academy in Bucharest. His films have participated in numerous festivals internationally.
Solomon’s work does not subscribe to a single, given genre, style or narrative methodology. Through either observation or detailed journalistic research, Solomon looks to the past in an exploration of history, politics and society that allows him to succinctly comment on the present.

Kapitalism: Our Improved Formula, 2010

Kapitalism: Our Improved Formula (2010) is one of his most characteristic documentaries. Driven by the idea that Ceausescu has returned to check contemporary society, Solomon interviews Romania’s millionaires, creating the portrait of a country in limbo between communism and capitalism, that has surrendered to a never-ending cycle of corruption and impunity.

“Every city has the traffic it deserves”, says Solomon and sits with Apocalypse on Wheels (2008) next to five different people who are driving daily through the streets of Bucharest – chaos and lack of human respect emerge as the protagonists of an irrational system that places Romania among the countries with the highest traffic-related death rate in Europe.

Cold Waves (2007) goes behind the scenes of the legendary Radio Free Europe station, which initially started out as a CIA propaganda tool back in the 50s, but later became a comforting companion to Romanians during Ceausescu’s rule - the latter famously recruited Carlos to “take care of” the situation. The past is also recalled in Clara B. (2006), where the mysterious (fictional) protagonist’s life is reconstructed by a museum archivist in a meditation on archives, memory and twentieth century history.

Another incredible true story is the one told in Solomon’s documentary debut The Great Communist Bank Robbery (2004). Interviews and archival material expose a hard and tragicomic side of communism: in 1959, a group of prominent members of the Romanian Communist Party organize a bank robbery, get arrested and later agree to play themselves in a film that reconstructs the crime. The film was released after their execution.

The Great Communist Bank Robbery, 2004

Hubert Sauper Tribute

“My reflex is not to make a film for the good of the world. I think I do have the desire, as do many other authors, to reveal myself, to bring my perspective and to say clearly, here, this is what I think, this is what I see and I have personally experienced this story and I would like to tell it to you.” Hubert Sauper
Austrian film director, writer, actor and producer Hubert Sauper has become known for his revelatory documentaries – especially those shot in the African continent. Unapologetically political, his latest work focuses on the varied consequences of colonialism and globalization in countries like Zaire, Tanzania and Sudan.

Born in Kitzbühel/Tyrol, in the Austrian Alps, Sauper has lived in Great Britain, Italy, the USA, and then France for ten years. He studied film directing in Vienna at the University of Performing Arts and in Paris at the University of Paris VIII. Hubert teaches film in Europe and the USA. Sauper’s films have won numerous awards in international film festivals. The tribute to his work includes his most recent documentary We Come as Friends, which marks his return to documentary filmmaking ten years after the Oscar-nominated Darwin’s Nightmare.

On the Road with Emil (1993) centers on circus director and ringmaster Emil, as he travels with his company through the Austrian winter landscape. This is not a film about the spectacle of performing animals (although the performing goats are something to behold), but rather an insightful film about a family on the road.

“Why do Hutus and Tutsis kill each other? Who are the victims and who are the real culprits in a complicated war? You really shouldn’t expect this film to provide easy answers to such questions. This is not just another white man’s view on Black Africa. In Sauper’s documentary the camera helps us see. It simply shows us the cruelty of man”. Jean Rouch praises Kisangani Diary (1998), proclaiming the birth of a new type of cinema, “a cinema of contact”, through which Sauper presents a shocking account of the harrowing experience of hundreds of thousands Rwandan Hutu refugees in the Zairian jungle.

Darwin’s Nightmare, 2004

Taking a break from his African explorations, Sauper returns to France to document different instances of domestic violence in Alone with our Stories (2002). “Marital violence is not only the most invisible and neglected form of war, but also the most threatening and destructive”, Sauper believes and turns his attention not only to the physical but also to the psychological abuse women face in their relationships and marriages.

His next film and most popular one yet, Darwin’s Nightmare (2004), traces the economical, social and ecological effects caused by the fishing industry in Lake Victoria, Tanzania. The behaviour of the alien Nile perch, which was introduced into the lake in the 60s and gradually managed to annihilate its surrounding ecosystem, becomes a metaphor for the Western “veni, vidi, vici” invasion and exploitation of African resources.

Six years in the making, We Come as Friends (2014) picks up on the rhetoric Sauper established with Kinsigani Diary and Darwin’s Nightmare. Flying on a plane he himself has built, Sauper lands in different parts of the newly formed Southern Sudan, not to intervene as a Deus ex Machina, but to capture the thoughts and dreams of its people. UN peacekeepers, Chinese oil workers, American evangelists and Sudanese locals each become a piece of the neo-colonialist experiment that divided Sudan has become.

Source: Thessaloniki Documentary Festival official website
  Kapitalism - Our Improved Formula
  Apocalypse on Wheels
  Cold Waves
  Great Communist Bank Robbery
  Clara B.
  Tudor Giurgiu
  Dana Bunescu
  Andrei Butica
  Dana Istrate
  Cristian Tarnovetchi
  Ada Solomon
  Titi Fleancu
  Catalin Cristutiu
  Alexandru Solomon
  Libra Film
  The 16th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival Awards
  17th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival 2015, Greek programme
  17th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Highlights & main sidebar events
  Alexandru Solomon tribute at Thessaloniki Documentary Festival
  altcine Explore movies by Country People To read
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