“Hello Anatolia,” an acclaimed documentary film, written and directed by Chrysovalantis Stamelos and funded by the Greek America Foundation, is now available to watch online.
After working in the corporate world for years, Greek-American filmmaker Chrysovalantis Stamelos decided it was time to satisfy his desire to search for his roots in Anatolia, the historical birthplace of his ancestors. So, he picked up and moved to the homeland of his great-grandparents: Turkey.
His family and friends thought he was crazy. Maybe he was, but he couldn’t shake off the stories he heard growing up of old Smyrna (modern day Izmir) and Asia Minor.
“Hello Anatolia” follows Stamelos’ reconnection with his ancestry through the exploration of neighborhoods, interviews with Greeks of Turkey, and his immersion into art and culture. Stamelos breaks down barriers between two cultures with a history of feuding while building a bridge from the Aegean to the United States, all while preparing to be a father.
Pre-production of “Hello Anatolia” started in spring 2010, when Stamelos officially moved to the city of Izmir. Over the course of 10 months, locations were scouted and remnants of the surviving Greek-speaking communities of Asia Minor were located.
Upon development, the Greek America Foundation launched a grassroots fundraising campaign on Kickstarter.com. The campaign raised more than $6,400 with support from several communities including Greek-Americans, Turkish-Americans, documentary lovers and people interested in the topic of Smyrna and its Greek roots.
Production began in May 2010 all throughout the city of Izmir, including historical locations such as the home of Aristotle Onassis, the office of the Consulate General of Greece in Smyrna and the historical village of Cesme, where Stamelos reconnected with his family’s roots.
The team also filmed in Istanbul, where they filmed interviews and footage of historic landmarks including the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Saint George, the Apogevmatini Istanbul-Greek newspaper headquarters and the Hellenic Cultural Center in Pera (Beyoglu). Interviews also include notable celebrities such as legendary singer Glykeria, singer Fide Koksal, and famed culinary chef Maria Ekmekcioglu who currently hosts the MegaTV cooking show “Apo Tin Poli Erhome (I’m Coming from Istanbul).”
Post-production took place with three teams in Turkey, Greece and New York. The film’s soundtrack is produced by international musician and composer Yannis Saoulis based in Thessaloniki, Greece.
After film festival successes in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Istanbul and Thessaloniki, the film went on to air on PBS Chicago and Greece’s Cosmote History Channel, finding new audiences across the country. The film was chosen for select screenings by the American College of Greece, Harvard University, Yale University and the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University, Stamelos’ alma mater.
The film was executive produced by Gregory Pappas with the support of the Greek America Foundation, and is available to watch here.