One of the many perks of being a documentary filmmaker is getting to travel around the world. Of all the festivals I went to with FORGETTING DAD over the past two years, the Ippokrates Health Film Festival on the gorgeous Greek island of Kos really stood out. (see last year’s post here) Run by the Greek dynamo Lucia Rikaki, who also runs the Eco Film Festival on Rhodes, the festival shows a wealth of films on health-related topics in the birthplace of Hippocrates and modern medicine.
Last year, FORGETTING DAD won the 2nd audience award, just behind THE ENGLISH SURGEON. This year, I got invited back to be in the jury of the medium-length section, and didn’t hesitate for a moment. It was a great pleasure sharing jury duties with Indian filmmaker/teacher/distributor Gargi Sen and Kos native Antonis Frouzakis, a notary and great lover of film and the arts, as well as a wonderful tour guide.
The films were hit and miss (some uninspired TV docs, which is to be expected in the 40-60 minute category), but we were pleased to give out three prizes to films we all cherished: 1st prize to Michael Schaap’s THE ERECTIONMAN (a brilliant and hilarious film about dwindling masculinity and the global obsession with instant, unlimited virility), and 2nd prize divided among Pawel Lozinski’s CHEMO (a moving and beautifully shot observation of life in a cancer ward in Warsaw) and Juul Bovenberg’s A DEADLY DILEMMA (an intimate portrait of Dutch doctors and their terminally ill patients as they face difficult decisions about euthanasia).
Antonis was kind enough to take us for a midnight swim in the thermal baths a few kilometers outside of town. Floating in the warm water while looking up at the stars and listening to the bubbling sounds coming from below was wonderfully relaxing and a physical sensation I’d love to repeat more often. Antonis also took us on a drive around the island, where we took a dip in the Agean Sea near Kefalos and on the western side of the island. We also enjoyed a lovely sunset meal in the charming village of Zia on the slopes of Mount Dikeos. The views across the island and the Aegean were stunning and the food delicious.
Like last year, the festival organized a trip to the Asklipieion for a re-creation of the Hippocratic oath ceremony. The Asklipieion is the site of the world’s oldest known hospital, and is considered the birthplace of modern medicine. The ruins sure give off an inimitable vibe.
The festival is very well-organized, has a lovely and helpful staff, and shows every sign of securing an important niche in the festival scene. I might just have to make another health-related film and hope the festival will accept it so I can return to this island paradise.
By the way, that’s Henry Marsh, star of Geoffrey Smith’s THE ENGLISH SURGEON, speaking on stage. He was also invited back to Kos to be on the feature-length jury.