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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.

  • SAIM KEREM SOYYILMAZ
    Director
  • MAJ SUSANNE JUNKER
    Producer
  • Andreas Ascanius Lundmark Jakobsen
    Cinematographer
  • Burak Dal, KUDA
    Editor
  • Onan Karagözoğlu
    Re-recording mixer
  • Project Type:
    Documentary
  • Runtime:
    57 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    March 1, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    25,000 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
    Turkey
  • Country of Filming:
    Greece, Turkey
  • Language:
    English, Modern Greek (1453-), Turkish
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    2K scope
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
  • 30. Adana Golden Boll Film Festival
    Adana
    Turkey
    September 19, 2023
    Best Documentary Film
  • Aegean Docs
    Mytilene
    Greece
    October 17, 2023
    Honorable Mention
  • Documentary Films Festival of Ierapetra
    Ierapetra
    Greece
    August 10, 2023
    Best foreign documentary
  • Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival
    Thessaloniki
    Greece
    March 4, 2023
    World premiere
    Official selection
  • GFFT
    Toronto
    Canada
    October 1, 2023
    Finalist
  • Los Angeles Greek Films Festival
    Los Angeles
    United States
    June 10, 2023
    North American
    Official selection
  • Documentarist Istanbul Documentary Films Festival
    Istanbul
    Turkey
    June 12, 2023
    Turkish premiere
    Official selection
  • Ankara International Film Festival
    Ankara
    Turkey
    November 9, 2023
    Finalist
Distribution Information
  • Totem Digital (totemdp.com)
    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, and won the 'Best Documentary Film' award in Adana Golden Ball Film Festival.

Working for his next film, he works in cross-cultural projects between Denmark and Turkey.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Searching for Rodakis transcends being just a documentary film for me. In 1887, a family buried their daughter Chrysoula beneath their home, and 36 years later, forced to flee, they left everything behind with the hope of returning one day. Unable to do so, my family moved into their house, and a century later, I discovered Chrysoula's tombstone. My desire was to relocate her tombstone to a more visible place, and I aspired to accomplish this alongside a member of her family. This transformative process evolved into the creation of a documentary film.

Searching for Rodakis delves into the lives of ordinary individuals from Greece and Turkey, uniting in an effort to preserve history and forge new connections rooted in friendship and peace. It highlights that even a century later, descendants of those displaced grandparents are still on a quest to rediscover their origins. While the nationalist trends of a century ago may have led to the formation of robust nation-states, they had profound and often tragic repercussions on the lives of everyday people.

The film narrates my personal journey, spanning from the day I unearthed a tombstone beneath my grandmother's house to the moment I placed it in a museum alongside the family connected to that tombstone.