‘Advocate’ Tops Thessaloniki Winners


By Pat Mullen

Advocate, directed by Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaiche, topped the winners at the 2019 Thessaloniki Documentary Festival this weekend. The doc won two honours including the Golden Alexander Award for Best Documentary among the international competition. The award carried a cash prize of €8,000. The Israeli/Swiss/Canadian co-produced also scooped the prize from the FIPRESCI jury comprised of film critics from around the world.

Advocate was one of 15 documentaries tapped for Hot Docs’ Special Presentations line-up last week and will make its Canadian premiere at the festival, which runs from April 15 to May 5. The doc is a fly-on-the-wall portrait of Jewish-Israeli lawyer Lea Tsemel, who is a passionate defender of Palestinians from all walks of life. The compelling human rights portrait has garnered strong reviews since debuting at Sundance earlier this year.

Thessaloniki’s international competition jury also awarded Canadian co-production and fellow Sundance alumnus Midnight Traveler, directed by Hassan Fazili. The doc received the Special Jury Award and a a €2,000 cash prize. Back at Sundance, POV’s Jason Gorber called the film “harrowing and effective.”

The full list of winners from the 2019 Thessaloniki Documentary Festival is as follows:

Best Documentary – Golden Alexander: Advocate – Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaiche
Special Jury Award: Midnight Traveler – Hassan Fazili
Amnesty International Award: #FemalePleasure – Barbara Miller
FIPRESCI Award – International Competition: Advocate – Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaiche
FIPRESCI Award – Greek Competition: When Tomatoes Met Wagner – Marianna Economou
Greek Film Critics Association Award: 4 Levels of Existence – Iliana Danezi
Human Values Award of the Hellenic Parliament: Human Touch – Paweł Ziemilski
WIFT Award: #FemalePleasure – Barbara Miller
WWF Award: Soyalism – Enrico Parenti & Stefano Liberti
ERT Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation Award: The Band – Nikos Aslanidis
Mermaid Award: Irving Park – Panayotis Evangelidis
Mermaid Award – Special Mention: My Father is My Mother’s Brother – Vadym Ilkov
Doc on Air Award: Intimate Outsiders – Roser Corella
Greek Film Centre Award – Greek Film Over 50’: Fossils – Panos Arvanitakis
Greek Film Centre Award – Docs in Progress: School 54 – Dimitra Kouzi
Youth Jury Award – Best Film: Make the Economy Scream – Aris Chatzistefanou
Youth Jury Award – Special Jury Award: The Fig House – Pitzi Kampourouglou
Doc Market – Docs in Progress Award: Four Seasons – Katerina Patroni and Our Choices – Salah al Ashkar
Mediterranean Film Institute (ΜΙΚ) Doc Lab Award: Phoenix – Daire Collins
Peter Wintonick Audience Award: The Silence of Others – Almudena Carracedo & Robert Bahar
Audience Award – Under 50’ Yesterday/Tomorrow – Raúl Riebenbauer
Audience Award – Greek Film Over 50’: The Band – Nikos Aslanidis
Audience Award – Greek Film Under 50’: The Canaries – Giorgos Kivernitis
Best Film – VR: Songbird – Lucy Greenwell

Advocate – A documentary by Rachel Leah Jones & Philippe Bellaiche – Official Trailer from Filmoption International on Vimeo.