Although Dimitra Kouzi has been involved in numerous projects, documentaries are her true passion. She says that the audience is wise and well-informed.
The last post on your blog is the interview with Erik Hogenboon, where you were discussing diversity across the Europe in general, and particularly in social, economic, religious and gender contexts. Do you agree with the thesis that media, especially TV documentaries, should question, but at the same time support the ideas of tolerance and diversity?
Well, the interview was about diversity programs in public television. There are some channels, some public broadcasters in Europe, which have established their own diversity departments. Their goal is to promote understanding and tolerance in general, to promote tolerance between different people, different ideas, or religions. I was invited to work for the Prix Europa diversity cathegory, called TV Iris, and I was really inspired by this work because we saw a lot of interesting documentaries. So I’ve given this interview because I wanted to point out the necessity, especially now, to have these diversity programmes. Alongside democracy and poverty, public television should also focus on and make programmes about diversity.
Can Slovak directors join these diversity programmes?
It is up to them. I haven’t established this kind of programme myself, it is the public broadcasters in different countries, who are in charge of establishing such departments. I think a Slovak television should have this kind of department or could think about this possibility.
What is happening now, and how is diversity reflected in terms of documentary film production?
I think we will definitely see interesting films in the future. I know some projects that are in development and I think filmmakers will bring very interesting films in the next one or two years, because they need some time to digest what is happening now to produce new films about this situation, which is new for everybody. There is, for instance, a very interesting film about deradicalization being produced by Sant & Usant, a Norwegian production company.
One of your articles entitled Nobody Can Hide Anymore is about worldwide trade with personal data on the Internet. Can you tell us more about the Do Not Track documentary series?
This was inspired by Do not Track, a cross-media platform about personal data and privacy. If you are aware of these issues, you will be very careful with what you post on the Internet, or what you like or not like from now on.
For example, I have three personal accounts on different social networks, where my personal data, preferencies or interests can be tracked down. In what sense can be such information mistreated?
Do not Track is a seven-episode cross-media project, an international, personalised web doc series about privacy and the web economy. It explores how information is collected and used, and how data broking works. The project is a co-production of Upian, BR, ARTE and ONF NFB (Canada). You will be surprised to find out how much information you give up for free, while others earn a lot of money out of it! The impact of the project on the viewers since they used it:
27% are more aware of privacy
21% changed their behaviour online
So let’s turn our attention to alternative distribution. What does this term exactly mean?
The term alternative distribution describes distribution outside the mainstream theatrical distribution and TV distribution. We try to match people who are interested in a topic with a specific film. What we do first of all is to communicate this information to interested people. The screening location is not so important – whether you screen the film in a bar, in a restaurant or in a theater, in the garden or in a parking lot – the important thing is to find your audience. If a cinema theater is hard to access because of its regular screenings, blockbusters or whatever, you look for other places, which can become a cinema for the evening.
Let’s focus on alternative distribution of documentary films. How would you define the term alternative? Do you think that the audience understands this concept?
It is seven years now since we have established documentary screenings in Greece, and we have two venues in Athens at the moment. The first venue is the Institut Français auditorium and the second one is a centrally located cinema theater. Each film is screened twice and then travels around Greece in various venues, cine clubs, town halls or other places. So you have a film and a location, and you target the groups that are the potential audience to come and see the film. You do not screen two or three times a day. You pick two days a week. And this is what we do. We also organize a theme night around it. We don’t organize screenings only. It is an event, where people talk about it, there are Q & A sessions with the filmmakers. We invite experts, personalities, people involved with the films, or film protagonists.
And how large is the audience? How many spectators attend your screenings?
There are two screenings per month. We invite up to five people to talk about the film. Sometimes we have a director, an expert or we invite a panel of experts, it depends on the film. For example, for Sugar Blues we invited two doctors and a nutrition specialist. For An Appointment with Lacan, we invited a panel of five preeminent psychoanalysts. When we screened Four Letters Apart – Children in the Age of ADHD, we organized a very interesting Q & A session with children’s education experts.
How would you describe the relation of the Greek audience to documentaries?
It is a growing audience. We have had a lot of sold outs already this year. We have built our audience over the years. More than 250 people attend each screening at the French Institute auditorium. People regularly come to see the films, to discuss and have a theme evening. The best compliment I’ve ever received was when someone was asked what was the film that night, and the man replied that he didn’t need to know the title because our screenings are always good.
Last year, the distribution company Filmtopia introduced KineDok, the alternative documentary distribution project in Slovakia, which follows a similar concept and even its name resembles the Greek CineDoc.
I think that KineDok is a great idea, and a useful initiative for audience building. After doing this in Greece for seven years now, I can tell you that the audience is hungry for documentaries and loves the discussion and exchange of ideas organized after watching the film. So if you make a good before- and after-screening event program, interesting panel discussions and achieve great media visibility about the film and the event, then you can really build impact.
Do the screenings take place only in the bigger Greek cities?
Smaller cities are also involved. We provide our expertise, network and know-how to help them organize successful film screenings and inspiring events.
Do you have any financial support from the Greek Ministry of Culture?
We are a private initiative. There is an entrance fee for our screenings and events. We also have partners and sponsors. The best compliment I’ve ever received was when someone was asked what was the film that night, and the man replied that he didn’t need to know the title because our screenings are always good.
Thank you for a great interview!
(This interview, originally published on aktuality.sk, was conducted on the occasion of Dimitra Kouzi´s lecture given for the workshop of Slovak KineDok organizers. Edited by Ivan Palúch.)
- Holds a Magister in Communication from the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich and studied Photography at the Photo Circle in Athens after finishing the German School of Athens.
- Since 2001, a TV journalist, a correspondent and a moderator for ERT, ZDF (Athens 2004 Olympics), ARTE (Arte 24-hour Greek Theme Day, 2013), N24 and Deutsche Welle. She was the head of documentary acquisitions for ERT digital channels.
- Since 2006, involved with the international documentary market, specialising in creative documentary production, distribution and impact building.
- Since 2009, a co-organiser of CineDoc, the Greek documentary screening and distribution network (founding member of EDN’s Moving Docs). Provides tailor-made communication strategy and audience development for documentary participation in international festivals.
- Work with documentary-film producers and companies (including Jiří Konečný, Endorfilm, Emmy Oost, Cassette for Timescapes, Ingo Fliess, If… Productions), directors (such as Eva Tomanová, Andrea Culková), festivals and distributors (KineDok, Taskovski Films) and educational organisations (including the Balkan Documentary Center).
- In 2015, Kouzi Productions was established.
- A EURODOC Graduate European Producer (2015) fluent in English, German and Greek.