A few weeks before the beginning of WWI a series of violent attacks took place in hundreds of towns and villages along the Aegean coast of Turkey, in what was then the Ottoman Empire.
The perpetrators were gangs of irregular bandits armed with government-issued Martini rifles.
Their targets were the Greek Orthodox citizens of the Empire.
Among the towns sacked were the ports of Old Phocaea and New Phocaea. Their entire Greek population fled as refugees.
They came back five years later, when the Ottomans were defeated in World War I and the Kingdom of Greece was sent to occupy a chunk of Western Turkey.
But the Turks revolted. And after a bloody three-year-war against Greece, they drove Greek troops out of the Empire and, along with them, 1.8 million Ottoman Greek subjects abandoned their homes for the second time or died during the war.
Today there’s a little more than 2000 Greeks left in Turkey. Most former majority-Greek towns have a very vague sense of their once multicultural, multi-religious past.
The refugees who came to Greece built thousands of communities all over the country. Two of them were named, tellingly, Old and New Phocaea (Palaia and Nea Fokaia).
This documentary is about how it all began in Phocaea, back in June 1914. And about how people –Greeks and Turks– remember these events and try to heal the transgenerational wounds they created.