Dimitri Eipides, the well-regarded figure at film festivals on both sides of the Atlantic, has died after battling long-term illness.
The Thessaloniki International Film Festival, at which Eipides was a former director, confirmed that he had passed away on Wednesday, Jan. 6. He was known to be obscure about his exact age but was thought to be around 80.
Born in Athens, Eipides went on to work at film events around the world, including founding the Montreal Festival Du Nouveau Cinema, alongside Claude Chamberlain, which the pair started in 1971 and Eipides was director for 14 years. From 1988 he worked as a senior international programmer at Toronto International Film Festival, and was also the program director of the Reykjavik International Film Festival from 1995.
In his native Greece, he served in various roles at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, establishing the New Horizons section before taking up the top position as director in 2010, eventually leaving the fest in 2016. He also helped to set up the separate Thessaloniki Documentary Festival in 1999, acting as director of that event.
In the international film community, Eipides was highly regarded as a champion of documentary cinema as well as of Iranian cinema. The Iranian Ministry of Culture awarded him a special honor in recognition of his contribution to the country’s film industry, while he also received a special FIPRESCI award in 1999 for the quality of the New Horizons program at Thessaloniki.
“Dimitri Eipides taught us how to watch documentaries, how to discover filmmakers. Cinema was his life. In myth he found the anthropocentric stories that originate from reality,” wrote the Thessaloniki fest in a Facebook post. “He convinced viewers that documentary is a love affair that surpasses its own art and becomes part of our life. We will always remember him in front of a screen, watching a film, explaining passionately why it is ideal for a festival, ideal for our soul.”
Local producer Konstantinos Kontovrakis, who started his career as an assistant to Eipides at the Thessaloniki fest, said he was a “true mentor for cinema, in every sense”.
“Everyone who has been around him said he taught them how to watch films, that’s what made him such a great programmer,” Kontovrakis added.
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