Thessaloniki Documentary Festival Trip

Mapping a City in Flux: Thessaloniki, Greece

Spring Break Study Trip, March 11-20, 2016

Faculty Program Director: Karen Van Dyck
Trip Leaders: Dimitris Antoniou, Paraskevi Martzavou

Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece, has a unique Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman past and faces a challenging present as shaped by the economic and refugee crisis. This fieldtrip will explore the many stories a city at the crossroads of Europe, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean can tell through the built environment. How does public space voice and silence narratives about the national past? How can streets, public squares, and monuments reflect shifting ideologies and aesthetics? In what ways do current socioeconomic conditions give rise to new modes of government and urban belonging? Participants will meet with people who make a difference in the city’s life, prepare their own media projects, and also attend the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival.



Documenting the Urban Crossroads: Culture, History and Language through Media

Spring Break Study Trip, March 2014 & March 2012

The aim of this educational trip is for students to be immersed in the long history and rich present-day culture of the city of Thessaloniki. During this trip, students become familiarized with Greece’s second-largest city, Thessaloniki -- a diverse cultural crossroads of Europe, the Balkans and the Mediterranean -- through participation in an intensive documentary production workshop. Using video, still images, sound and text, students explore different aspects of the city’s complex history and cultural landscape, while being immersed in the Greek language and in the everyday life of a Greek city. As part of this experience, students attend the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, one of the largest and most dynamic documentary film festivals in the region. Attending screenings, masterclasses, panels and discussions, students have the opportunity to meet filmmakers and reflect critically on different documentary practices. In turn, these experiences provide them with a broader context in which to think about and produce their own documentary projects. Students also visit museums, galleries and alternative art spaces; attend tours, lectures and concerts; meet professors and students from the Aristotle Univeristy of Thessaloniki; and participate in regular group work/crit sessions and consultations with trip leaders in a dedicated work studio. By the end of the trip, students produce short documentary media projects on specific aspects of their experience in Thessaloniki. 

Visit our website to learn more about the trip and to view the student projects:




Spring Break Study Abroad Trip to Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival, March 2010

Organized for first and second year language students by Program in coordination with ACT (American College of Thessaoniki) and Aristotle University with scholarships generously provided by the Lucy Foundation and the Greek American Homeowners Association.

Trip leader and leading faculty: Karen Van Dyck (Columbia University)
Onsite coordinators: Ariane Kotsis and Manolis Maou (American College of Thessaloniki), Yiorgos Kalogeras and Thanasis Kehagias (Aristotle University)


Students (click on student name to view video projects):


Geovanna Carrasco

Julia Harris

Maryann Vlachou

Vickie Kassapidis

Olga Symeonoglou

Sappho Broumasian

Marissa Tjartjalis

Victoria Weaver

Jacob Moe


The aim of this week-long educational trip was to immerse Columbia students in the Greek language and culture continuing the work they had been doing in their first and second year language and culture classes; to familiarize them with the city of Thessaloniki and the diverse ethnic make-up of this geographical region at the borders of Europe; and to attend the international documentary film festival with its focus on film as a global medium. Activities included:


• daily attendance at the documentary film festival (master classes, panels, discussions), free passes to films and meetings with directors and writers
• participation in a class in student’s area of specialization at Aristotle University
• three walking tours of Thessaloniki: Byzantine, Jewish, and Cinemas plus visits to related museums and monuments (Byzantine Museum, Rotunda, Kamara, Jewish Museum, Cinema Museum)
• living in student dorms in the center of the city and exploring its cultural life, neighborhoods, waterfront and cafes
• creating short digital journals that witness the crossing of borders linguistically, culturally, as well as between different media
• pairing up with Greek students who will accompany them around the city and to the film festival where they will be collecting material for their digital projects