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'Smyrna', a film to remember a tragedy - and learn

'We can all become refugees', says star and writer Mimi Denisi

21 December, 12:07

    (by Patrizio Nissirio) (ANSAmed) - ROME, DECEMBER 21 - The tragedy of Smyrna has deeply affected the history of Greece and of the entire eastern Mediterranean but has been mostly forgotten by the rest of the world. Smyrna (today's Izmir, in Turkey) was once a leading cosmopolitan centre, which in 1922 became the epicentre of the Turkish response to an attempt by Greek troops to annex Anatolia. This led to massacres and expulsions as well as a major population exchange between Greece and Turkey.

    The movie 'Smyrna' remembers that tragedy on its 100th anniversary. The film - which has not debuted in Italy yet - represents the top film production ever made in Greece. The screenwriter and protagonist is Mimi Denisi, one of the most well-known actresses of cinema, television and Greek theatre, as well as an author and translator.

    "I am an actress and theatre author who has studied a lot of history", she told ANSAmed. "Ten years earlier, I had written two plays dedicated to Smyrna, that had a great success in Greece. I wanted to make a movie, but the theme was always a hot potato. When I had the possibility of doing it, thanks to Tanweer's production, I tried to be objective, showing how Greece had its own responsibility, like Europe, which counted on the Greek government's naivete and then showed indifference when the tragedy unfolded. That's why I didn't understand Turkey's reaction when the film debuted in Greece in 2021. The Guardian, in the twenties, an external observer, wrote the same things I said in the film in its reportage from Smyrna. It is a multi-faceted story".

    The city of Smyrna in 1922 was recreated in Faliro, a coastal district south of Athens, and Denisi stressed how the entire film was incredibly realistic, in the smallest details. "British actors played Brits, Greek actors interpreted Greeks, and Turks played Turks", she explained. "And the scenes of the fire and battles needed to be strong, which is why we used 1,000 extras".

    The film started with a scene from the present, when the descendant of a Greek refugee from Anatolia welcomes Syrian refugees on a Greek island in the Aegean, and Denisi remembers how a lesson for the present can be learned from the tragedy of Smyrna: "We must not forget the past. It can happen to everyone, at any time, to become a refugee".

    "Smyrna and what occurred at the time became a topic of discussion again with the film, and this was one of the results I wanted to achieve, to open a debate. From a cinematographic standpoint, the message must be that it is necessary to cooperate again at an international level. Today, films are only produced nationally, and it is a mistake, there was a time when Europeans used to make great films together. Europe, which has a lot to offer with its history and culture, must cooperate with the US - a path to be followed in the film industry and beyond", she concluded. (ANSAmed)
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