Searching for Rodakis

As a Greek tombstone of unknown origin is discovered underneath the floorboards in an old village house in Turkey, an almost forgotten story from the country’s creation unravels; the
forced population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1923.

The engraved Cyrillic letters tell of a woman, Chrysoula Rodaki, who died in 1887. And so the search for her descendants
begins: It leads director Kerem Soyyilmaz to local archives, where his own family's role in the history is laid bare; to abandoned ghost towns and through the memories of older villagers - all while
Soyyilmaz meets massive support for his quest from the Greeks on the other side of the border. The stone becomes a portal to the past - and for a while, the trauma becomes redeemed when the previous owners of the village house return.

Searching for Rodakis is a film that reconnects people, culture, and the stories discarded to build a strong, nationalist state - told through the director's personal experiences.

The release also marks the 100-year anniversary of the forced population exchange.

  • Andreas Ascanius Lundmark Jakobsen
  • Burak Dal, KUDA
  • Onan Karagözoğlu
    Re-recording mixer
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    60 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    March 1, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    25,000 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    Greece, Turkey
  • Language:
    English, Modern Greek (1453-), Turkish
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
    2K scope
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival
    March 4, 2023
    World premiere
    Official selection
Distribution Information
  • Totem Digital
    Sales Agent
    Country: Denmark
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - SAIM KEREM SOYYILMAZ

Kerem Soyyilmaz (1984), was born and raised in Besiktas, Istanbul. With a background in commercial films, his first documentary feature Searching for Rodakis premiered at Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Searching for Rodakis is more than a documentary film for me. In 1887 a family buried their daughter Chrysoula under their home, and 36 years later they had to flee, leaving everything behind, with the hope of coming back one day. They could never come, my family moved into their house, and 100 years later I found Chrysoula's tombstone. I wanted to place her tombstone in a place where it is not hidden anymore, and I wanted to do this with someone who is from her family. This process became a documentary film.

Searching for Rodakis is about ordinary people of Greece and Turkey getting together, putting an effort to keep history alive, and establishing new bridges in the perspective of friendship and peace. It also shows that even 100 years later, people whose grandparents were displaced are still in search of their roots. The nationalism trend of 100 years ago maybe resulted in strong nation-states, but it had dramatic impacts on ordinary people's lives.

The film is my personal journey from the day I found a tombstone under my grandmother's house to the day I place the tombstone in a museum with the family of the tombstone.