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,
As the Artistic Director and Founder of the “International Documentary Festival of Ierapetra & Awards”, the “International Film Festival of Crete & Awards”, the “International Music Festival” and the “Gastronomy Festival of Eastern Crete”, I welcome you, from 6th to 20th of August, to the 9th year of our five-star cultural institutions, here in the South, in Ierapetra, the Gate of the Mediterranean Sea, cradle and crossroads of cultures and continents.
Since 2014, we have raced upwards with the speed of light so that our Festivals are today main protagonists in the international cultural firmament. Fulfilling the highest criteria, they were evaluated with the Quality Label “EFFE” (Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe), were ranked five-star film institutions by FilmFreeway in Hollywood and skyrocketed to the top of the world’s largest international festivals. We established cultural ties with countries-pioneers in the global film industry, such as China, in our magnificent cooperation “China Dream”, under which I stand as President of the “Silk Road International Film Festival” - one of the major international festivals. We attracted into the city of Ierapetra a multitude of professionals of the inland and international art scene, cultural ambassadors from all over the world and especially the cinephile audience, turning in just 9 years a popular travel and gastronomical destination into a center and pillar of a cultural and festival institution of international range.
In just nine years, we made our Festivals a meeting point and highlighting stage of the most renowned creators and young talented artists. Over 2.500 documentary and fiction films from all over the world have been screened and competed in our screening venues, from the Seaside Square of Culture to the Venetian Fortress and the Ottoman Mosque, while in parallel our Festivals have traveled live to 78 countries around the world. Our Juries, which each year consist of the most distinguished and acclaimed personalities of Letters and Arts, awarded prizes and honors to films which afterwards participated and stood out in other major international film festivals. With the arrival of the pandemic, we continued the flow of our Festivals with consistency - in contrast to other international festivals - and realized the coexistence of the digital reality with the live one, by screening all our films on our “digital square” through our website www.festivalierapetra.gr and which were viewed by thousands of spectators from even the most distant countries of the planet.
As part of the strategy-planning of our cultural diplomacy, we innovated once more this year, continuing our international co-productions with China, Israel, USA and expanding our collaborations with France, South Africa, Japan, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, Ethiopia, but also with India – where I followed the footsteps of Alexander the Great up high in the Himalayas, in a documentary that will be screened in our open-air cinema in Mosque Square on Thursday August 11th at 9 p.m. For the first year we started our great collaboration with the Cannes Festival and the “Best for Fests” by Bruno Chatelin, as well as an international co-production with the USA and Oscar-Winners actors from Hollywood - which will grace our next year’s screenings in our 10th birthday.
On August 7th, the “3rd International Music Festival” will take place, which offers stage to young and established musicians and performers of our country, to the students of the Lasithi High School of Music, as well as to artists of international impact, bridging different sounds from West to East, in a unique opportunity to present their works on stage. On the same day, the “3rd Gastronomy Festival of Eastern Crete” will take you to a feast of flavors from restaurants of Ierapetra, distinguished chefs of Crete, local housewives and cultural associations.
As each year, this year again we present a multi-diverse program with a series of parallels events and tributes. Under the “9th Film Academy” August 12th to 17th, we will shine light on new talents from Crete and the rest of Greece through the films: “The new student” by the E2 Class of the 2nd Junior School of Ierapetra, directed by Athena Spyropoulou and Myron Siderakis, “With the musical keys in my hug” by the Lasithi High School of Music and “Sea Memory” by the General Lyceum of Saint Myron of Heraklion, as well as the “Educational Program for Young Filmmakers” of the Chania Film Festival. From August 8th to 11th at Youth Club, a Photo Exhibition of the distinguished photojournalist and war correspondent Dimitris Messinis will be presented, while again this year we are implementing the Tribute to the Amorgos Tourism Film Festival and the Poetry Collection Competition.
With great pleasure I invite you to the Opening Ceremony of the "9th International Documentary Festival of Ierapetra & Awards" and of the "3rd International Film Festival of Crete & Awards", on Saturday, August 6th at 9 p.m. at the Ierapetra Seaside Square, which this year are dedicated to the "100 Years from the Asia Minor Catastrophe" with the screening of the film "Land of the Sorrowful Virgin Mary", but also to the Greek international composer Vangelis Papathanasiou and his work "Mythodea" for NASA. The Closing & Awards Ceremony will take place on Saturday, August 13th at 9 p.m. at the Ierapetra Seaside Square, with a tribute to the "Abused Woman" and the screening of the documentary "We Stay Alive".
Awaiting you with love, here in the South, August 6th to 20th, to travel with sounds and images all over the world and live unforgettable magical August nights beside the Sea of Ierapetra and under the starlit sky of Crete.