Exile Room is a non-profit organization based in downtown Athens. Established in 2009, it offers inspiration and education to established and aspiring filmmakers, as well as anyone who’s open to exploring the power of documentary. In the past 10 years we have built a dedicated following by offering free documentary screenings twice a month, complemented by masterclasses and workshops. We also run social outreach programs in the city, in prisons and remote areas of Greece. We believe documentary is an excellent way to build community: once you get to know your neighbours’ stories they cease to be strangers, paving the way for collaboration and mutual understanding.

  • VALERIE KONTAKOS

    producer / director

    A native New Yorker, she moved to Athens in 2003. After graduating from the NYU film school, she worked as a sound editor on the Maysles brothers’ Emmy award winner “Vladimir Horowitz: The Last Romantic”, Sundance contender “Ozawa” and Deborah Dickson’s “Francis Steloff: Memoirs of a Bookseller”. She worked on Anita Thacher's experimental films “Loose Corner”, “One Art” and “To the Top”, all of which screened at the New York Film Festival. In 1989 she directed her first documentary “A Quality of Light”. In 1994 she became the deputy director of the Hellenic Foundation in NYC, where she started the NYC Greek Film Festival and curated a monthly program for the American Museum of the Moving Image in Queens. She was an adjunct professor of film at Queens College from 1993-2002. Her second feature “Who’s on First?” (2006) aired in the US, Greece, Finland and Korea. Her third feature, “Mana” (2015) went viral during the 2018 wildfires in Greece, helping the nuns featured in it rebuilt their orphanage. She founded production company Exile Films in Athens in 2007, initially producing doc series for national Greek broadcaster ERT before expanding to other realms. She is on the Board of Directors of the Greek Cinametheque and has been operating non-profit Exile Room, focusing on social outreach through documentary, since 2009.
  • DESPINA PAVLAKI

    writer / producer

    Born in Athens, she worked as a journalist and festival programmer for 10 years before getting involved in production. Her film criticism and creative non-fiction was published in some of the country's top film magazines, newspapers and online publications. Her travel writing has appeared in Monocle, Yatzer and the Louis Vuitton city guides. Her writing credits also include children's book "The Vegetarian Jackal" and a novel-in-the-making. She was the programming director of the Athens International Film Festival and the general coordinator of the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, while co-organizing other festivals in Greece and abroad. Her producing credits include “Volta” (2013) by Stella Kyriakopoulos, the first Greek short to screen in competition at Sundance, which toured more than 75 festivals and garnered awards worldwide. She has been an integral part of production company Exile Films and non-profit Exile Room since 2009. In 2017 she designed and coordinated “Tell Me Your Story”, the first educational program in the country to ever train male inmates to shoot their own short documentaries while in captivity.
  • THANASIS PATSAVOS

    journalist / film curator

    Born in Athens, Thanasis studied Communication and Mass Media and has worked in almost every aspect of the filmmaking industry, from film extra to distribution. Most recently, he’s been working as a journalist and film critic for both print and online media and has steadily lent his film programming talents to the Athens International Film Festival. He has been curating the Exile Room documentary screenings since September 2012.