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TV URTI Grand Prix, Interview of the President of the Jury

2016-07-041/ Could you introduce you and describe your career ?

Menelaos Karamaghiolis is a filmaker who lives and works in Athens. He loves (and depicts) love stories, streets and confused antiheroes. His films have been screened globally and won many awards; and his video art works have been shown at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens and at the Venice Biennale.
The idea about a new film team by Menelaos Karamaghiolis that would be called PAUSILYPON FILMS was born in 1985 in a hill near Naples called Posillipo (or Pausilypon), while filming the "traces" of love couples that find refuge at night in the Greek-Roman ruins of the hill.
Operating since 1994, PAUSILYPON FILMS produced the fiction film BLACK OUT (p.s. RED OUT), 1998, by Menelaos Karamaghiolis, a co-production between Greece, France, Portugal, Eurimages, Media, that was considered the first post-modern Greek film and the most charming film of the year .
In 2012, Menelaos Karamaghiolis completed the production of J.A.C.E. – Just Another Confused Elephant, a co-production between Greece, France, Portugal, Turkey, F.Y.R.O.M., the Netherlands, a fiction film that was completed in 2011, participated in 38 international festivals and won 11 awards.
Documentary films are an important means of social intervention for PAUSILYPON and Menelaos Karamaghiolis.
In 2011, Menelaos Karamaghiolis started a new circle of documentary films with MEETING WITH REMARKABLE PEOPLE. The first 12-episode season has already been screened by ERT (the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation) with great success and was characterized as the "TV show of the year".
Menelaos Karamaghiolis has also created Video art films; BEYOND LIMITS (2014, National Museum of Contemporary Art) and "AGRIMIKA" installation (2015, 56th Venice Biennale).

2/ As a President of the Jury, what could you say about the screenings ?

The 121 screenings with creative documentary films in URTI have been a unique experience for me. I came in touch with different cinematic approaches from all over the world with a wide range of subjects that proves the strength of films, reality and documenting.

The number of the films we had to see sort of "scared" us in the beginning. But during those screenings, I did not feel tired. On the contrary, I felt grateful to all those creators all around the world who, in spite the adversities, insist on recording the reality with their films: anything that inspires stories, art, literature, fiction films, our own lives.

During those screenings, instead of feeling tired, I was constantly feeling the curiosity and the desire to see how the filmmakers’ anguish was recorded in this difficult and complicated historical circumstances. To see how life goes on through cruel wars, social inequalities, the life of condemned heroes, betrayed peoples and trapped survivors. Seeing those films, one completely determines their own reality again.
I feel that the procedure with the prizes was a symbolic one, and an occasion for gathering those films, and that the real prize belongs to all of these films.
In this miscellany of heroes and anti-heroes who strive everyday all around the world in order to survive, to understand, to redefine a very difficult reality. How one gets through a game that seems to be lost, how one can find cracks which might lead them to the dim light on the edge on the tunnel.
The way that those creative documentary films invaded my mind, proves the need we all have today to see – through a different angle – what surrounds us with international standards, and not with the narrow point of view of our local community.

The URTI, with the films it gathered, sets an international "archive" of life narrated by shocking stories, and this "life" interests us more that anything else in times when threats are constantly looming around us and the images invade from everywhere depicting inequalities and death. These films prove that there is a cinematic product which can be shown in TV aiming at the viewer's awakening and stimulation (activation). And this the only reason for me to keep on making films and the basic reason for my participation in this jury. I don't believe in competitions or prizes; I just consider them a chance for films to come together. And these cinematic meetings are necessary, creative, awakening and extremely useful for all of us.

3/ A few words about the 2016 URTI Grand Prix ?

This year's prizes seem to aim at representing deservedly all the films that participated, as well as their creators' anguish. Sonita is a girl fighting against a rigidly and restrainingly prescribed fate; she's the exception of the rule that encourages those who get trapped in the rule to claim what they deserve and dream of. The way that the protagonist "wins" over the camera and deals with it in such an insightful way, is an original idea on how a documentary film can be filmed. The preponderance of the lens is abolished by the honesty of the filmed hero, who is exposed in front of the camera with no humiliation, fake images or dilemmas. The heroine – that takes the camera in her hands and reverses the terms – claims with her life the transcendence of borders and dangerous segregations imposed by religions and dogmatic prejudices.

Next stop: Utopia is a film that suggests an objectively detached and revealing way of filming: along with the fired workers and their effort to create a self-managed model of working that will save them from unemployment, one can really feel the causes of a long-lasting crisis and keeps on condemning society as a whole. This factory and its effort could be a country – in that case my country – on a small scale, that has been striving for years to abolish the international and domestic crisis. The film succeeds in showing – clearly and with a merciless frankness – what is going on in Greece in the course of these few last years.

A Cruel Gift from Southern Korea could happen everywhere and finds real heroes being judged in front of the final battle with death. How a documentary film, through humans, approaches a subject that human beings haven't been able to come to terms with: the end.

How one can use an amateur camera and redefine the form of the documentary film by "setting up" an almost epic story, full of heroes
that fight seclusion and marginalization. We Have Never Been Kids gives the answer both as a film that had been in progress for many years, as well as a completed film. A film that "follows" the audience ever after its screening, reminding them that the way people dealt with the illusions in Egypt during the last few years seems like a parable of what happens all over the world and the incubating dangers around us. A family story that turns into a clear political film and works for both the heroes and the creator of the film.

The films that won the 4 Prizes are deeply political films, narrating history through the point of view of a condemned anti-hero. And these prizes belong, first of all, to their heroes. It's to these heroes that the films belong to and I hope that they will be supported by them.

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