Olga Deikou

Travelling into the heart of the 23rd Thessaloniki Documentary Festival

Olga Deikou

It’s safe to say that never before has the unveiling of a festival poster spurred so much excitement. No surprise there, of course, as the 23rd Thessaloniki Documentary Festival had found the right person for the right job. Olga Deikou, the gifted photographer who lives and works in Thessaloniki, has the way to transform the urban landscape into a locus of still anticipation and eloquent silence, as if we’re standing on the threshold of an imminent explosion. In reality, Deikou goes way beyond capturing frames of the city or human figures; she unfolds complex stories that imply way more than what they choose to reveal.

Retracing the first steps of this collaboration, Olga recounts in detail: “Around December 20th, I received a phone call from Mr. Orestis Andreadakis, the Artistic Director of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, who assigned me with the task of the 23rd TDF posters. As I was told that the Festival’s main concept would be revolving around the notions of journey and destination, my mind instantly went to how much we reminisce (and daydream) about travelling, now that the pandemic has turned this activity into a distant recollection of the past. However, the word “travel” is multifaceted; there’s an almost magical hue to it, as it encompasses countless symbolisms and meanings.”

The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival’s three posters function as a triptych compass pointing to the open horizon, reflecting the dire and inherent need that urges us to roam, escape and abolish boundaries. The first of the three TDF 23 posters alludes to an endless road movie, as if it sprang out of the scenes of Wim Wenders’ film. The second image oozes a feeling of childlike reverie against the backdrop of an infinite landscape. In the third frame, a flock of travelling birds in constant movement is juxtaposed against a pair of lights turned on in an otherwise empty building, casting brushstrokes of hope onto a canvas of looming dusk. One way or the other, if you come to think of it, life is nothing more than a long and winding road. And every journey we embark on, regardless of the distance covered, always starts from within.
“I don’t know why, but the first image that popped up in my mind was that of a broken down and abandoned car brought back to life. Therefore, I started visiting tow yards to find out whether it would be possible to have a car moved to a field. It took me a while to spot the proper vehicle, as I did not want the car to be crushed or totally ruined, as the frame I had in mind was far from dystopian. I wanted the final outcome to work as a linking chain between the past, the present and the future,” she goes on to say.

At this point let us remind you that the upcoming 23rd Thessaloniki Documentary Festival will take place in two phases. Initially, in the beginning of March (4-14/03/2021) we will have to chance to watch online an outstanding tribute titled “Destination: Journey”, comprised of top-notch films that delve into the core of what we perceive as journey, capturing its imprint on the human soul. Fast forward to the end of June, as the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival’s main program will unfold between June 24th and July 4th, in the open-air cinemas, as well as in variety of public spaces, of Thessaloniki.

“The poster featuring the man and the broken down car served as a guideline for the second image. A child climbed on the roof a modern-day car glances at the sky, while playing with his toy airplane. First and foremost, the notion of journey is a product of an internal process that may be put into force even if we remain glued to the same spot, not having moved in the slightest. Just like a child imagining that his toy airplane tears the skies apart. As to the third frame, it was Orestis who provided the initial idea: a university that has shut down due to the pandemic, a pair of illuminated windows and a couple of people declaring their presence (one of the two silhouettes is more conspicuous) within a scenery of abandonment. At the same time, just around the corner, a flock of birds fly without a care in the world, free of constraints. This poster alludes, at least much more clearly than the other two, to the present conditions we’re experiencing,” Olga Deikou concludes.