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SINASOS - A survey of memory

documentary, 16 mm, color, 60' - 1997

Best Mediterranean Documentary Award - Palermo 1997
Public's Award - International Film Festival Thessaloniki 1997
Greek State Award 1998 - Best documentary
Ipekci Peace Award for Greek-Turkish Friendship 1999
First Award – Week of European creative documentary Strasbourg 2001

selections: Marseille, Munich, New York…






From antiquity on, the Greek people has lived on both shores of the Agean Sea. In 1923, following the Greek-Turkish war and in the name of the idea of nationhood, the first organized ethnic cleansing of the twentieth century between two nations is decided with the consent of the great powers. One and half million Greeks left Turkey under the most inhuman conditions and 400.000 Turcs were forced to leave Greece.

Through the story of a village, Sinasos, its Turkish inhabitants today and the testimony of the last Greeks to live through this tragedy, as well as their descendants, this film reconstructs the memory of the daily life of the two peoples who despite their differences lived side by side for centuries in Asia Minor until Greek and Turkish nationalistic politicians led them to violent separation. The film stresses the way in which the political events of this century and propaganda have reversed the memory of the two peoples.

Sinasos - A Survey of Memory, reverting to history's course, and with the living example of Sinasos, examines the mechanisms that lead to nationalism and hatred.



directors' note


It is not easy to film the memory of nations, nor its transformation into propaganda when these nations live with the constant threat of war. Yet it is this movement (of love and hate; from love to hate) in the collective consciousness, when memory is transmitted from one generation to the next, that we wished to record with our camera, in Greece and Turkey. To record also, through testimony, the silence that has not -yet- become oblivion. We tried to find, through thought and poetry, the always hidden road to the Other. Sinasos represents precisely this attempt.


Timon Koulmasis, Iro Siafliaki






The arbitrary, nationalistic logic of States reducing to ashes the supranational and pluricultural memory of the peoples, stands in the center of this film. The old people, Turcs who have stayed in the village and Greeks having left, evoke with kindliness common customs and remember with emotion a gesture of solidarity when times were bad. The film juxtaposes their recollections which let them appear even more moving, their common memory challenging time gone by and defying the cold logic separating men.

Le Monde, 18/8/1997

Keeping at distance any idea (or fantasm) of historic truth while examining one of the great events of the century through the lens of people's daily life, this documentary gains high altitude. In a nearly miraculous way, it leads to a discret but fully assumed reflection on memory and history.

L'Humanité, 20/8/1997

What's left of the common life of Turks and Greeks before the 1923 exodus? The ruins of a monastery in Kappadokia, an old photography of a classroom and the flickering memories of a few octogenarians. On the background of wars past and present, a suberb documentary full of discreet emotion, music of rare intensity, and fragile and precious testimonies.

L'Express, 14/8/1997

Timon Koulmasis and Iro Siafliaki, through the example of the village of Sinasos, have tried to film the memory of two peoples and its transformation into propaganda. The film examines the mechanisms that lead to nationalism and hatred, and provokes a thought of tolerance… Sinasos constitutes an appeal for peace and reconciliation.

Il Manifesto, 29/6/1997

In Sinasos Timon Koulmasis and Iro Siafliaki uncover the traces of the "ethnic cleansing" which took place by government decree in 1923 after the war between Turkey and Greece. … The directors get the old people in both villages to tell their stories, revealing above all that they have developed a more nuanced view of the past, in contrast with the menacingly fanatic nationalism which has taken hold of the younger generations. Through archival material and commentary the two filmmakers offer the viewer a veritable history lesson about the little-known conflict between Greece and Turkey.

DOX – Zurich, 6/1997

The film by young directors Timon Koulmasis and Iro Siafliaki deals with Turkish and Greek people who once lived together in the same village until politics divided them. An important subjet, it still does not make a good documentary on its own. For that, creative force is needed, as well as the skill to catch the magic moment when it appears in front of the camera. This films has both. One sequence shows an eighty-year-old woman dancing and gracefully shaking some dust off her dress. This scene alone makes the film worth seeing, because it is a sign of poetic cinema, which is a rare species nowadays.

Tue Steen Müller, EDN (European Documentary Network)

Uncovering the topography of popular memory, "Sinasos" is a remarkable documentary.

Kathimerini – Athens

An extraordinary documentary!

Eleftherotypia – Athens

A film that shows dignity and honesty while treating a very difficult subject. And, above all, a daring film.

Epochi – Athens

an analysis of the film by the philosopher Stephanos Rosanis


(… )
Sinasos – A survey of memory is a film which by avoiding the description of memory, sets about to explore the "interior" of memory, where silence and hence discontinuity become its founding terms.

"The ghosts are everywhere", said Simone Weil, refering to another memory covered by silence until now. The ghosts from Sinasos are here, they try to articulate a sometimes nostalgic, sometimes dramatic word, idealized occasionaly, formal, emblematic at times. They feel, they do exist since somebody pushes them to do so, somebody seems interested in their existence, feels concerned by them. When the 'magic lantern' throws its light upon them, their shadows appear, terrifying. The ghosts speak, but what is actually speaking, is the silence hidden in their gestures, the expression on their faces, the posture of their bodies. Their account constitutes their corporeity, their corporeity is the break in the word, its discontinuity. As all phantoms of memory – wherever they come from – the ghosts from Sinasos wish to captivate their public, to enthral it by their strange appeal, to absorb it into their tale, to transform the spectator into an accomplice : he then becomes an actor of the memory.

Sometimes the creators of the film give way to the desire of Sinasos' ghosts. They are fascinated and yield to the charm of their narration, they do not remain on their guard, they approve. They loose distance, confusing their own ghosts with the ghosts of the exiled men and women from Sinasos. They try to speak their language and remain outside of the memory. At this moment, the 'magic lantern' looses its orientation like a compass which goes wrong in a magnetic field and is of no use to the traveller anymore. This moment is painful but passes quickly. With a sudden movement, nearly with a start, the creators of the film seem to wake up, they free themselves from the confusion provoked by the phantoms' appeal. They keep distance again and free the eye so that it can draw its path and submerge into the "interior" region of the magma.

What results from this free movement of the eye constitutes the drama of Sinasos: you don't know anymore if you are looking at the ghosts or if the ghosts are observing you.

Shoals of history that raise from the lowlands of peoples, from the dephts of their souls. Lateral camera movements crossing the historical contiuum. Very moving, too, the faces of passers-by in the spaces in between yesterday and always. Here, time exists only as a pure creation of resistance to randomness, relating it to all the inordinate in the human chain...

Philippe Tancelin, poet, philosopher


written and directed by
  Timon Koulmasis, Iro Siafliaki
  Jacques Pamart
  André Sikierski
  Aurique Delannoy
  Fabrice Puchault – Esther Hoffenberg
    CNC, Procirep, Ministère des Affaires Etrangères,
    Ministère de la culture -Département des Affaires Internationales
    Eurimages, MEDIA



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