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Asia Minor Memorial Project

by gafoundation1

Why this project?

From Gregory C. Pappas, President & Founder

The centennial anniversary of the burning and destruction of Smyrna was the culmination of a brutal genocide perpetrated against the Christian population in Asia Minor and must be commemorated widely. No single event in contemporary Greek history has had such a profound impact on an entire nation and people than the events in Smyrna in September of 1922. Greece gained more than one million new citizens who brought with them a rich culture that continues to shape modern Greek society. We hope to properly memorialize and remember the victims and simultaneously honor the legacy of the refugees who were dispersed throughout the world. Our project honors this anniversary while remaining true to the present— and future, by bringing to life an award-winning film— a human story from Smyrna 1922— which premiered in 2004 to critical acclaim and will be repurposed with a documentary add-on to bring the story to the the present-day centennial.

Remember Their Names: Asia Minor Memorial Project

In light of the upcoming centennial commemoration of the September 1922 burning and destruction of Smyrna, the Greek America Foundation is undertaking a fundraising project to support an award-winning film’s restoration and the production of a historical documentary film.

This project includes the digital restoration of the award-winning short film “Light Blue and Orange” by Stefanos Sitaras, as well as the production of a short, historical documentary bonus add-on, which will be re-released to film festivals throughout the world and to the general public.

The project also includes a digital memorial scrolling wall that will include names of victims and those who fled as refugees to all corners of the globe.

Still image from Stefanos Sitaras’ award-winning film “Light Blue and Orange” (2004).

Support the project

Your support goes towards the digital remastering of “Light Blue and Orange” and the production of “Remember Their Names,” the new short historical documentary which will accompany the re-release of the remastered film.

The following levels of support are available for those who wish to donate to this project:

NOTE: After making your donation, you will receive an email receipt which includes a link to submit your information and/or family photograph to our database.

Donate $100 – Submit the names of your ancestors who were either victims or refugees from Asia Minor. These names will appear in perpetuity on the digital memorial wall on our website. 

Donate $250 – Submit a single photograph, along with the names of your ancestors who were either victims or refugees from Asia Minor. This photo and names will appear in perpetuity on our digital memorial wall.

Donate $500 – All of the above (photo and name listing), as well as a single line in the closing credits of the short documentary “Remember Their Names” under the listing “In memory of.”

Note: This short documentary will be submitted to film festivals throughout the world and will eventually be available for international distribution. You will receive a complimentary digital copy of this film when available. By making a donation, you give us permission to include the listing you are providing in the film.

Donate $1000 – All of the above, as well as your family photograph included in the closing memorial montage of the short documentary “Remember Their Names.”

Note: This short documentary will be submitted to film festivals throughout the world and will eventually be available for international distribution. You will receive a complimentary digital copy of this film when available. By making a donation, you give us permission to include the listing you are providing in the film.

Donate $2500 – All of the above as well as an “Executive Producer” credit in the closing credits of the short documentary feature that we are producing that will be released together with the remastered original film.

Donate $5000 – All of the above, plus — include YOUR family story in the short documentary “Remember Their Names.” Please contact us if you wish to inquire about this option.

About Stefanos Sitaras

Stefanos Sitaras is a Greek film director, screenwriter and producer. Films he has directed include “Light Blue and Orange” (2004), “The Magic World of Harrison Patrakis” (2014), and “The Rocket” (2020).

His career began at age 13, when he attended the New York Film Academy program in Paris and directed “Through the Eyes of a Child” (2003). At age 14, he wrote and directed the award-winning “Light Blue and Orange,” a historical epic about the Asia Minor wars of 1914. Shot and presented in 35mm, the film opened the 2005 Athens International Film Festival, stirring audiences and critics into an experience which, according to Thodoris Koutsogiannopoulos, “conveys memories written in our DNA, and translates war into concrete terms of time and space, scarce even among accomplished filmmakers with years of experience.”

At the age of 15 he was diagnosed with an arachnoid cyst in the left frontal lobe of his brain, a rare condition that usually proves fatal in infancy. He opted against the high risk of surgery, and chose to monitor it while continuing to work. The young director’s career continued with the Trilogy of Zitiano, three short films about the adventures of a street beggar. “Esperando” (2005), “Hitherto” (2006), and “Morbido” (2007) competed in a prodigious number of international film festivals, including the Cannes Film Festival, Sundance, Palm Springs, Berlinale, Mannheim-Heidelberg, LA Shorts Fest and the Thessaloniki Film Festival. During that time, he also directed the comedic short Gregory and Stamatis (2006), the documentary The Verification (2006), and more.

Sitaras (right) behind-the-scenes during filming for his short “Light Blue and Orange” (2004).

In 2007 he moved to Boston Massachusetts, to study film at Emerson College, with a scholarship from the Onassis Foundation. Academically as well as independently, he made more than 10 short films, and participated in many independent productions in America and Europe. In 2008 he wrote his first book, a collection of psychoanalytic essays titled “Plato’s Death,” published by the Iwasaki Library of Emerson College. In 2009, he produced and directed the television film “Colors of the West” (2009), a historical drama starring Yannis Zouganelis, who called Stefanos Sitaras “the most important artist of his generation.” The following year he made his award-winning short films “Photographia” (2009), “Niqab” (2010), “Noise” (2010), and “Suction” (2010), culminating in the experimental “The Fritzl Effect” (2011), which was honored in more than 20 international film festivals, mainly for its directing and editing.

After graduating in 2011, he worked in Los Angeles and New York, primarily as a writer, cinematographer, and editor. In 2012, he gave his popular speech titled “I Dare You to Live Forever” during the Greek America Foundation’s National Innovation Conference at New York University. Since then, Sitaras occasionally works as a motivational speaker at events, conferences and international platforms such as TEDx. At the same time, in both Europe and America, he started directing commercials, music videos, corporate videos, news reports and TV documentaries.

In 2012, at the age of 22, he returned to Athens, working mainly in theater and advertising. He wrote and directed “The Magic World of Harrison Patrakis” (2014), co-produced by Paper Street Films, the Greek America Foundation, and Principal Media of Libra Group. For this three-year project he was widely recognized in the Greek arena, principally for his action and contribution to the Greek economic crisis: he spoke at the International Marketing Summit in Istanbul and was featured by Stavros Theodorakis in Protagonistes. He also collaborated with legendary stage director Dimitris Papaioannou for three consecutive seasons, in the performance-art pieces “Primal Matter” and “Still Life” (2012 – 2014). He directed commercials for Amstel beer, Herbalife Nutrition, the Make a Wish Foundation, and more.

Between 2015 and 2019, Stefanos Sitaras directed his first feature film, the hangout comedy The Rocket (2020). Shot entirely with non-actors over four years in Greece and Italy, The Rocket chronicles the friendship of two young men as they grow apart over the years. He served as his own cinematographer, screenwriter, producer, editor, financier, costume designer, and art director. The film premiered worldwide at the 60th Thessaloniki International Film Festival, to an enthusiastic reception from critics and audiences alike. As renowned critic Nektarios Sakkas put it, “The Rocket is the definition of guerrilla filmmaking, a once-in-a-generation experiment that can only be made possible by brazen madness, persistence, twentysomething audacity, and complete ignorance of danger.”

Stefanos Sitaras lives and works in Athens, Greece. He started his own production company Random Party, a media development and production house, aimed at discovering new talent and developing projects by young filmmakers in Greece and Europe.