Smyrna my beloved
I am from Smyrna, and this is my Smyrna, cosmopolitan and loud, full of joy, feasts and delights
The movie «Smyrna, my beloved» is based on Mimi Ntenissi’s stage play «Smyrni moy agapimeni, attended by over 1.000.000 viewers».
The film will be shot in Greek, English and Turkish. The scenes between Turks will be in Turkish, between Greeks in Greek and between characters of different Nationalities in English.
Smyrna was a cosmopolitan city where people of different nationalities lived together in harmony. It was like the tower of Babel. A lot people spoke many different languages therefore this will give a special atmosphere to the film.
It’s a complicated, expensive movie with many different locations, period, costumes, (1917-1923) effects and big international cast.
A lot of exteriors should be shot in Lesvos, mostly in Mytilini and other Aegean Islands as well as Cyprus.
Also, in different Athenian neighborhoods, like Kifissia, Plaka, etc. The movie also needs lot of special effects especially for the catastrophe.
The movie starts in New York, in 2015. Eleni an elderly American lady decides to go to Mytilini, at the island of Lesvos to help the refugees. She takes her unwilling granddaughter, to follow her. No one knows her secret. Almost a century ago, her family lived on that island. They were refugees as well, who came from Smyrna after the destruction of the city. Eleni starts reading her grandmothers recipe book, which is also a diary of what happened to Filio Baltatzis.
Through the interesting saga of an eminent Smyrniot family, the spectator is transferred to the legendary city of Smyrna. Its cosmopolitan society leads a joyful and interesting life. Greeks, Turks, Jews, Armenians and Levantines live together harmoniously for centuries. Culture and music, rich cuisine, the best of the West and the East make Smyrna irresistible. Secret passions, forbidden love affairs, political intrigues, are all part of its life. Cocktails, theater, opera for the aristocrats, tavernas, café chantants, brothels and cafes for everybody. A peaceful life on the surface that hides all kinds of dangers which will finally destroy this paradise.
The Baltatzis family is at the center of the movie, surrounded by their loyal Greek and Turkish servants, Jews, Armenians and wealthy Levantines. In 1918, everything changes as Germany loses the first World War together with its ally, Turkey. It’s the end of the Ottoman Empire, and the Europeans are ready to divide it amongst them, and share its wealth. In 1919, their ally, Greece, is ordered to send its army and occupy Smyrna. At last Asia Minor becomes Greek again.
Venizelos’ Great Idea becomes true. Not everybody agrees with that. Some are afraid it will not last forever.
The Baltatzis family is divided into two. Dimitris, the older brother, supports Venizelos and Spyros, the younger one, supports the King. The relationships with the Turks change. The Baltatzis family becomes even richer. Their son, Vassilis goes to war, their daughter Lefkothea gets engaged to the wealthiest Levantine, Eddie Whittall, and Filio, the central character, continues writing in her notebook, her recipes as well as her fears.
The destruction starts on August 15, 1922. No one is expecting it as the Greek Army had always been invincible. No one is afraid. After, all the Allies warships are at the port. No one leaves Smyrna until the very last moment. When the great fire starts, they realize they are trapped between the fire, Kemal’s army and the sea. All foreign ships must remain neutral. No one can save them.
The Baltatzis family tries to leave in vain, Grandpa stays behind and dies in the arms of his loyal Turkish servant, Osman. Only Filio is saved by their Kemalist ex-driver, Halil, who has always been in love with her. Politics may have separated the two nations but not their people. Many Turks try to save their old Greek friends.
Filio leaves alone. She becomes a refugee in her Mother Country, Greece. The last recipe in her notebook is written at the port of Mytilene, where she lives as a refugee. She cooks for those who have survived the Catastrophe.
Eleni is sitting at that same place in the port. Her granddaughter, with tears in her eyes, reads the last pages of her great grandmothers notebook. The young American girl, has realized that all of us could become refugees at some point. In the face of the refugees who arrive in Mytilene, she now sees the faces of her ancestors.
The past and the present become one.
Mimi Denissi in collaboration with Martin Sherman
PERSONALITIES THAT SUPPORT THE FILM:
The Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church
Princess Catherine Of Serbia
Period Drama, inspired by true events
July 24, 2019