About this project
Here is another short teaser of the film (made of archive footage and additional shots we took):
- The documentary will be feature length film about the history of Thessaloniki which was known as the Jerusalem of the Balkans
- The film tells the story of the present and the past Thessaloniki
- We have already shot all the material for the film. At the moment, we still need to edit and compose the final film
- The shooting and part of the editing has been funded by
Goethe Institute Thessaloniki
Heinrich-Böll Stiftung Berlin / Thessaloniki
- For the use of archive footage and for the post-production process a funding gap of 12,000 euros still needs to be closed
- We Need Your Help! Otherwise there will be no film!
For questions and informations don't hesitate to contact us: email@example.com
„How the former Jerusalem of the Balkans flourished, fell and remained unremembered.“
In the 20th century, the history of the Jerusalem of the Balkans ends with the destruction of Jewish and Muslim life.
On December 6th 1942, German occupation forces and Greek collaborators confiscated the Jewish cemetery of Saloniki, which was the largest in Europe with approximately 500,000 graves. Immediately, the tombstones were used to build a swimming pool for German soldiers. The majority of the stones, however, were handed over to the general population. Today, one still finds pieces of gravestones in city walls, stairs and particularly on the campus of the Aristotle university, which is built on the cemetery. These gravestones are silent witnesses of a forgotten past in a city that suffers from some kind of amnesia.
The film tells the history and about the destruction of Jewish and Muslim life in Saloniki - a cosmopolitan city, where Muslims, Jews and Christians coexisted. Consistently most people of the Christian community were Greeks, who lived under Ottoman rule until 1913. Since the Ottomans welcomed Jewish refugees from Spain in 1492, the Sephardim became the majority of the Jewish population of the city and also advanced its commercial importance. Unfortunately, the Jewish presence was nearly wiped out completely after the German SS deported more than 50,000 Jews to Auschwitz in 1943. Moreover, since the migration of the Turkish population in 1923, only a few reminders remain of the dozen minarets and Turkish baths. The former Jerusalem of the Balkans has blocked out the memory of the heterogeneous population of Jewish port workers, house-owners and merchants, Muslim pashas and dervishes.
In the film, Thessaloniki itself becomes the protagonist - the city with its people, old stones, houses and streets. Is it easier to suffer from amnesia than to remember the past?
The Narrative | The Past vs. The Present
The film shows two separate worlds and tells two stories that mirror each other.
The present emerges after the city loses its unique economic and cultural status. It is no longer the Jerusalem of the Balkans and the threshold between Europe and the Orient. It undergoes the dramatic changes that shape the 20th century. Hours of footage have been collected to portray Thessaloniki as a modern city.
The past is narrated by an American woman who visited the city as one of the first tourists during the 19th century. Staying in “Salonika” (Thessaloniki) she wrote an extensive letter to her sister. The text gives us colorful insights of the world she experienced and of an upper-class lady of the time. The narrative of the film is made up of animations and picture-in-picture compositing.
The team is based in Cologne, Germany. We have our studio for editing and compositing at Eyedolon Pictureworks GmbH, which is the production company of "Salonika - a city with amnesia".
Max Geilke ...is the one with the camera and a co-director of the film. As one of the founders of Eyedolon Pictureworks he also takes care about the post-production process for the film.
Mario Forth ...is the one with the microphone and also a co-director. In the end he will do the soundmix for the documentary at his company S4P - sound for people.
We Need Your Help!
- by crowdfunding it! Help us to finish the film
- Send us pictures or film-footage of old Saloniki (before or during World War II)
- Send us ideas and stories that you know or have experienced regarding the topic
Why we need your money
In short: we need it for post-production.For more than five years, we have interviewed and accompanied people from Thessaloniki: officials, survivors, business-people and youth. The project is in its last phase and we lack funds for post-production. We are still in need of additional financing for
- license fees for film and photo archives
- translations and subtitling
License fees are up to 40 € per second.
If we used (only) five minutes of old camera footage in the editing, we need about 5000 EUR only for the fees! The average cost is still about 28 EUR per second!
We will keep you updated with footage we found and want to use!
The foundations that have supported us until now are:
What happens if we raise 12,000 €...
…we have a documentary film!
We can re-create old Salonika on screen. We will be able to finance the fees for the licensing of music, photo and video footage as well as the costs for the post-production process.
What happens if we raise more......we will be able to pay for distributing the film and enter it in film festivals all over the world. For example, in the USA and other over sea countries the cost for participating in film festivals is between $100 and $1000. Furthermore we will be able to travel ourselves and be present at the festivals.
Such festivals are:
NY Sephardi Film Festival | LA Sephardic Film Festival | DOK Leipzig | Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival | Doc Aviv (Tel Aviv) | Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival | DocumentaMadrid | Cinéma du Réel (Paris) | Stranger than Fiction (Cologne) | AmFest Moskau | Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente | San Francisco Jewish Film Festival | NYJFF New York Jewish Film Festival | Jewish Filmfestival Berlin
Cologne, Germany (the city we live in) has a sister city in Greece called Thessaloniki. We knew very little about Greece and Thessaloniki especially its history and the events of the world war II.
In 2012, we decided to visit Thessaloniki and prepared ourselves by reading books, articles and essays from various historians such as Stratos Dordanas, Vaios Kalogrias, Irith Dubon-Knebel, Erika Myriam Kunio-Armariglio, Rena Molho and Mark Mazower.
During our trips (2012-2017) to Thessaloniki we visited the Jewish Museum, Old Age Home and Community. We met with the Rabbis, survivors and younger members. We also interviewed Stratos Dordanas and Rena Molho. Otherwise, we spent a lot of time doing research in the Bundesarchiv in Berlin, where we found film footage and photographs of Thessaloniki. We also contacted the Greek Film Institute in Athens and planned a visit to the National Archives of Macedonia. Other sources and institutions that we used and consulted were the Albert Kahn Photography Collection, the Facebook group “Old Photos of Thessaloniki”, Russian archives (www.net-film.ru), Yad Vashem and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Also people we met in Thessaloniki supported us with private photos and personal stories.
We are officially supported by the Martin Buber Institute of Jewish Studies of the University of Cologne. We are also supported by the EYE Filmmuseum, Amsterdam who provided us with a documentary about the Balkans shot in the 1920’s.
Our approach is not only academic. We feel the need to bring a strong visualization of the subject matter. Consequently, we are attempting to connect the present with the past in order that an audience might experience a world long forgotten.
Risks and challenges
Rather than talking about risks and difficulties we like to give some good reasons that may ensure the completion of the projekt:
- we produced a trailer of the film (see the video ontop of the page)
- we already produced a short version of the film for the Heinrich-Böll Stiftung Berlin and the A&A Kulturstiftung, which are German funding institutes
- we already used a lot of the archive footage for which we still need to pay the license fees in order to show the film in public
- we have our own studio at Eyedolon Pictureworks based in Cologne, Germany were we can compose and edit the film
- we already gained a lot of interest from all over the world on that topic
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