Simon Lereng Wilmont’s “A House Made of Splinters,” a tender and humane story of a children’s shelter in eastern Ukraine, earned the top prize at the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, taking home the Golden Alexander Award at a ceremony on Sunday.
The international competition jury praised Wilmont’s acclaimed documentary, which also won the best director prize at Sundance, as “an unforgettable film that shines a light on the burden carried by children for the horrors and mistakes perpetrated by the world of the adults who should be caring for them.”
The jury also announced a Special Jury Award for “Young Plato,” by Declan McGrath and Neasa Ní Chianáin, calling it “a film that can only give us hope in future generations and their capacity to make the world a better place.”
In handing out the awards, the jury described the prize-winning duo as “two profoundly moving and intricate films that, in many ways, struck us as companion pieces, and that deserve to be seen together.”
In the Newcomers Competition for young and up-and-comings directors presenting their first or second features, the Golden Alexander “Dimitri Eipides” Award went to “Golden Land,” by Inka Achté, which the jury described as “a beautiful and moving family story of belonging in a way which changes the narrative of migration…[and] shows – in a non-didactic manner – a family’s struggles and dreams.” The Special Jury Prize went to “The Devil’s Drivers,” by Daniel Carsenty and Mohammed Abugeth.
In the Film Forward Competition, which showcases the work of young and daring directors who challenge genre conventions, the Golden Alexander Film Forward Award went to “The Bride,” by Samira Guadagnuolo and Tiziano Doria, which the jury praised as a “striking film where silence speaks louder than voice…that, with minimal yet powerful and precise cinematic means, tells an important story of how patriarchal societies repress women.” The Special Jury Prize went to “Amateur,” by Martín Gutiérrez, and “Letter to Nikola,” by Hara Kaminara.
The International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) gave the FIPRESCI Award for the best documentary in the international competition to “A House Made of Splinters,” and handed out a second award for a Greek film participating in the international program to “Arm Wrestler,” by Yorgos Goussis.
The Greek Film Center gave its award for a debut director in the official Greek selection celebrating its premiere in Thessaloniki to “The Itinerary,” by Orestis Athanasopoulos. The GFC also gave an award for a film from the Agora Docs in Progress selection to “#MetiSofia,” by Vania Turner.
The Agora Lab Award, which was presented by the event’s tutors to a Greek project taking part in the lab, went to “Panellinion,” by Spyros Mantzavinos.
The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival ran from March 12-20.