The annual International Documentary Festival of Ierapetra (IDFI) has put the fourth largest city of the Greek island of Crete on the map of the most renowned festivals dedicated to the documentary genre around the world, thus creating a unique arts experience with images and sounds from all over the world and attracting a large number of domestic and international film industry professionals, academics, cinema aficionados and general audiences.
Being the southernmost town in Europe, since ancient times Ierapetra has always been on the crossroads of diverse cultures and continents and has now become a popular travel, cultural and gastronomic destination. The location itself became the inspiring starting point of this Festival, founded in 2014 by Eleni Vlassi and a visionary team with a warm Greek soul, a profound love for filmmaking and an excellent knowledge of non-fiction audiovisual projects.
The journalist and filmmaker Eleni Vlassi is the Artistic Director of the International Documentary Festival of Ierapetra and the Chairman & Managing Director of the non-profit organization ‘Chrysea’, aiming at contributing to improving the quality of intellectual and cultural life at local, national and international level.
Since its very first edition, the International Documentary Festival of Ierapetra has been celebrating the art and business of documentary. Based on its creative cultural consciousness and innovative and interactive profile, it presents a wide and diverse selection of competition and non-competition films (showcased in the Panorama section), promotes documentary film as a leading art form, supports the work of young and independent filmmakers, and encourages public dialogue around the topics and ideas explored in films of local and foreign nationalities. It focuses on documentaries that explore the social and cultural aspects and developments in Greece, the Mediterranean, Europe and worldwide with issues open to question or debate, illustrating ‘life as it is’ nowadays: from the economic austerity, the climate change, racism, political discrimination, immigration, the state of refugees and human rights to topics related to all forms of arts, mythology, biographies and travel experiences.
Apart from the popular Opening & Closing Ceremony and the regular film screenings, the Festival meets the expectations and needs of the industry guests and further engages with its constantly growing audience and passionate moviegoers, by proudly hosting a series of side events, including special tributes, workshops, lectures, seminars, master classes, along with educational and entertainment activities in a festive and easygoing spirit, such as art exhibitions, performances and food, music & dance events, inspired by unique local traditions, like ‘mantinades’ (Cretan rhyming couplets of fifteen syllables).
Given the importance of a solid regional presence, the 8-day long festival takes place at 7 different mostly open-air screening venues (all accessible for people with disabilities) of Lasithi Prefecture of Crete, with free entrance. The main central venue remains the Mosque of Ierapetra in Kato Mera, with its indoor and outdoor screening space, built by the Turks in the late 19th century.
The official program of IDFIA includes the following contest sections and respective awards: International Competition – European Competition / Feature Movies – Greek Competition / Feature Movies – Greek Competition / Short Movies. Furthermore, the other awards include the Special Jury Award, the Michel Foucre Award for Best Director, Best Editing Award, Best Cinematography Award, Best Original Music Award and the Audience Award.
The Preliminary Jury consists of Eleni Vlassi / Artistic Director, Kostas Konstantinidis / Film Critic and Christos Solomos / Actor, Scriptwriter & Director. The main three juries – composed of eminent personalities and experts in the film industry and in diverse academic fields – present the awards of the Greek Competition, the International Competition and the Young Filmmakers sections.
In its latest edition and for the third time in its history, the 6th International Documentary Festival Ierapetra hosted the special tribute: "Research and Innovation". The tribute was implemented under the Operational Program "Human Resources Development, Education and Lifelong Learning" and co-funded by the European Union (European Social Fund) and National Resources. It was essentially the Operational Program of the NSRF, which deals with education and employment.
The Festival is held under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Culture, the Region of Crete, the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad of the Ministry for Foreighn Affairs, the Greek National Television, and it is sponsored and supported by national and local media, organizations and companies. It has been constantly growing in numbers, almost doubling its figures year after year, in terms of entries, film screenings, guests and viewers / attendees. Following the impressive number of 1,508 submitted applications, the 6th edition of the Festival (3-10 August, 2019) presented 167 movies from 42 countries including 53 co-productions.
Having fulfilled the requested standards, the festival’s international prestige has been highlighted and enhanced by receiving the Quality Label of the European Festival Association ‘EFFE’ (Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe), since 2017. During the same year, the Artistic Director Eleni Vlassi created the ‘China Dream’, a spectacular co-operation of the Festival with the nine largest International Festivals of China, promoting the distinctive values of both countries and the exchange of ideas, films and human resources.
In the framework of its promotion strategy and cultural diplomacy, the festival has gone global, having established ongoing international collaborations with a number of accredited festivals and cultural institutions, supported by documentary networks and platforms. In a true search for ‘new territories’ in the literal and metaphorical sense, a good variety of awarded or not films is presented in various road shows in the capital of Athens and in other cities abroad.
After all, film culture is our passport to the world's memory.
COME TO THE SOUTH AND TRAVEL THE WHOLE WORLD
GREETING OF THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
My dear friends,
Reaching with great joy the 8th year of the ascending progression of the "International Documentary Festival of Ierapetra & Awards" and the 2nd year of the "International Film Festival of Crete & Awards", as their Artistic Director, I would like to share my thoughts about these two five-star international cultural institutions which produce culture, promote, and strengthen the local culture. And which over time promote the Greek Cinema and the Greek Production into the International market, through the Ierapetra Film Market that we created, shaping dynamically the cinematic landscape of our country
Throughout the years that passed, our two Festivals, faithful to their ideals, projected through the Greek fiction and documentary films the Greek, the European and the World Civilization, opening a wide cinematic window to the world, to creators and producers internationally. In parallel, they enforced the tourism development of the region, promoting the local culture and the Cretan civilization up to the far ends of the earth.
Already from the very first year of the creation of our Festivals, one of their greatest achievements was that they managed to set sails traveling beyond the borders of our country, concluding international collaborations, co-organizations and blazing new cinematic and commercial trails between 73 countries of the world. And also, after their closing, every year, the Festivals travel to Crete, to the rest of Greece and to many countries of the world, screening the award-winning films at parallel events and highlighting the cultural character of each region. The strong multicultural identity of the Festivals, offers the podium and the motivation to more and more creators from many countries of the world to participate with their films, here in the southernmost city of Europe, in Ierapetra.
Since the 2nd year, following the "marriage" of Crete with China in the film-process, many collaborations took place, with Israel, France, South Africa, USA, Australia, Russia, Armenia, Ukraine, New Zealand, and with many other countries. In 73 countries from all over the world, through the global film industry, we internationalized our local Identity, our gastronomic culture, the locality, enhancing the development of our island.
Every August, the "International Documentary Festival of Ierapetra & Awards" and the "International Film Festival of Crete & Awards", host cultural ambassadors from France, Israel, Spain, South Africa, Japan, China, and other countries, as well as Oscar-Winning directors. Every August, filmmakers, producers and cultural representatives from all over the world find a welcoming cove in Ierapetra. The strategic goal of the festivals is to follow the rhythms of evolution of the technological, cinematic, social, commercial changes and while maintaining their "greekness" to remain universal.
Last year the pandemic showed that we are rapidly moving into the new digital age and so the future of the two International Festivals is simultaneously digital. And as digital culture has no borders nor geographical exclusions, this year we are following our last year's experiment with online screenings, live streaming, fora, that has established us worldwide in a wider international audience of a large digital community of thousands of viewers.
From the southernmost city of Greece and Europe, our August Festivals aim to offer to the cinema lovers of our country and the world a summer outing, for the winters and springs that we lost due to the pandemic, through live and online screenings of films, live streaming music and dance performances, concerts, masterclasses, painting and photography contests, numerous events.
From August 7th-21st, the "8th International Documentary Festival of Ierapetra & Awards" and the "2nd International Film Festival of Crete & Awards" will screen live and at the same time online 24 hours a day on the festivals’ website www.festivalieraρetra.gr. 200 Greek, European and International Documentaries with 140 competing and 120 competing fiction films. For 14 days we will all meet again in the open-air cinemas, in the dark screening-spaces, we will turn on once again the microphones on the stage, keeping the cinephile audience company, which always rewards us with laughter, hugging, applause, communicating vessels in the cinemas and in the big squares. From here the South, our Festivals will make you travel through magical images all over the world.
Within the context of our cultural diplomacy, the "8th International Documentary Festival of Ierapetra & Awards" and the "2nd International Film Festival of Crete & Awards" innovate again, placing henceforward under their auspices the "2nd Festival of Gastronomy of Eastern Crete" and the "2nd Festival of Music".
As a result of our efforts, our Festivals hold the quality stamp "EFFE 2020-2021" (Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe) of the European Festivals Association. The honorary identity "EFFE" marks the high quality of the festivals giving an additional motivation to filmmakers from countries of all the world, to come in contact with Ierapetra, with Crete and its culture.
As the Artistic Director of the "8th International Documentary Festival of Ierapetra & Awards" and of the "2nd International Film Festival of Crete & Awards", I consider it a great honor that so many remarkable people of Cinema, Culture, Music and Letters grace our two Festivals this year. The honorary guest is the multi-award-winning Greek music composer Stavros Xarchakos, internationally distinguished for his huge contribution to the music of Greek Cinema. Doctor of Fine Arts at Adelphi University in New York, Artistic Director of the "State Orchestra of Greek Music", one of the pillars of the artistic popular music together with Mikis Theodorakis and Manos Hadjidakis. He wrote songs for more than 42 albums, soundtracks for 21 films and 15 television productions. He composed music for ancient tragedy, dramas and international ballets and his name constitutes point of reference for the film and theater score-composing, with numerous unforgettable compositions, among them his first hit, the soundtrack he wrote for the film by Vassilis Georgiadis "The Red Lanterns"
The"8th International Documentary Festival of Ierapetra & Awards" is dedicated this year to "Health and the Insurance System" and at the Opening Ceremony the documentary "Pandemic" will be screened. The "2nd International Film Festival of Crete & Awards" is dedicated this year to the "200 years since the Greek Revolution" and will screen the film "The Invincible Ship of the Revolution".
As the Artistic Director, I thank from the bottom of my heart the people of Ierapetra, our internal and foreign visitors, who by the thousands support with their presence every year these two important international cultural institutions and become spectators and protagonists on the cinema screen.
But I also thank all the creators, the cultural ambassadors, and the guests, who will all be by our side in the live and online events. For 8th consecutive year, from the Coastal Culture Square of Ierapetra to the Venetian Fortress and the Mosque, Ierapetra is a cultural core, a crossroads of civilizations and gate of the continents, where East meets West, Mediterranean meets Balkans and Europe meets Asia and Africa. I thank from the bottom of my heart our online viewers, the international cinephile audience of the enormous digital society which takes part in our Festivals, establishing us all over the world. I invite you all, to become spectators of the free live and online screenings from August 7th-21st. You will enjoy a wonderful tour through the festivals’ website www.festivalieraρetra.gr, while in our live free events you will experience unforgettable magical August nights.
And as our motto says, "We are waiting for you here in the South to travel all around the world".