This year's edition of the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival proved to be exceptionally successful for Polish cinema. The Golden Alexander went to Dominika Montean-Pańków's The Voice, while Wojciech Gostomczyk's Leon received a special mention. Another Polish project was also awarded at the Agora Thessaloniki Pitching Forum.

The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival was established in 1991. This international event is dedicated to documentary films. The organisers have focused solely on presenting and promoting the most important international documentary productions. Debates and presentations on the future of the industry and new technologies are equally important to them. The industry section is an integral part of the event. The festival is held under the patronage of the Greek Ministry of Culture.

This year, the festival program featured a large representation of Polish documentaries (we wrote about here), which was translated into awards. The Voice by Dominika Montean-Pańków together with Leon by Wojciech Gostomczyk were shown in the Newcomers competition. Both won the jury's recognition. The former received the main award, The “Golden Alexander Dimitri Eipides” Award, and the latter – a special mention.

The winning The Voice tells the story of a novitiate in a religious order. During two years of isolation from society and the comforts of civilisation, young men get enough time to consider the question: is religious life for me? In Dominika Montean-Pańków's documentary we can see the first lectures attended by future clergymen, among other things. “If you sit in a shack, you'll get to see fruit in everyday life”, says an older monk. Desert shots in Wojciech Staroń's lens define the symbolic horizon of the novitiate participants' experience, while Adam Bałdych's steady music creates an aura of meditation.

On the other hand, Leon by Wojciech Gostomczyk is the story of the eponymous Leon – a man for whom there are no borders, neither during his legendary performances nor in the geographical sense. He comes from Trójmiasto, where he co-founded the alternative scene; lives in Berlin and has fans in Europe and beyond. Wojciech Gostomczyk's film is more than a tribute to a great artist. Above all, it a fills a gap in world documentary cinema. There are few characters as compelling and vivid in modern times as Leon Dziemaszkiewicz. With his personality, he charmed Thierry Mugler, one of the greatest icons of contemporary fashion and pop culture. It's remarkable to see their love, their difficult relationship, their daily lives on screen.

A list of all winners can be found here.