In 1914, just before the beginning of World War I, an unknown tragedy takes place at the far oriental flanks of Europe : subsequent to many attacks by Turkish irregulars, the Greek population along the coast of Asia Minor is forced to abandon their homes and property and seek refuge in Greece.
Overshadowed by the start of the World War I, these forgotten events still constitute a historical fact, observed and recorded by a French archaeologist, Félix Sartiaux who was working in the region at the time. He was busy excavating traces of the Phoceaen civilization, having its metropolis here, and who, as they were expanding their trading empire, had founded many seaports along the Mediterranean, including today’s Marseille in the South of France.
Sartiaux witnessed the events hour by hour, recorded testimonies, took photographs, and above all, managed to save many lives of the expelled Greek population. His account as well as his disappeared photos are found again in Paris in 2005 by Art Historian Haris Yiakoumis and constitute the main narrative arc of this remarkable documentary. Enriched by a few very subtle reconstitutions, interviews with historians, researchers, descendants of the refugees, Satiaux’s niece as well as research by Yiakoumis for his books “Phocée 1913-1914 Le témoignage de Félix Sartiaux” and “Regards Phocéens de Félix Sartiaux”, this film sheds a new light on the expulsion of the Ottoman Greeks from the Asia Minor coast in 1914 and finally reveals its tragic proportions.
Considering the duty to Remember, directors Agnès Sklavos and Stélios Tatakis remind us of a forgotten chapter of the historical upheavals caused in Asia Minor at the beginning of last century as a result of the demise of the Ottoman Empire.