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The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea 2019

The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea | To thávma tis thálassas ton Sargassón


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The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea-To thavma tis thálassas ton Sargasson

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Two women in the wrong place at the right time.

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About The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea 💬


  • It's Time for Miracles.

THE MIRACLE OF THE SARGASSO SEA is a tense film that treads the path between a thriller and a dreamspace occupied by biblical imagery.

In a small eel-farming town in the west of Greece, two women live solitary lives while dreaming of getting away. Elisabeth Kochanowski (Angeliki Papoulia) is a once-ambitious policewoman forced to relocate from Athens ten years ago and now living a joyless, hung-over life; Rita (Youla Boudali) is the quiet, mysterious sister of a lounge singer in the local disco. When a sudden death upsets the town and turns the local community upside-down, the two women who had been ignoring each other's existence begin drifting towards each other. As the secrets hidden in the swamps begin to surface, they will have a chance to become each other's saviors.

The third feature film by Syllas Tzoumerkas after Homeland (2010) and A Blast (2014).

  • DIRECTOR'S NOTE

THE MIRACLE OF THE SARGASSO SEA is the story of two women and a community in dreams: real dreams, dreams of redemption, dreams of obscenity, dreams of violence.

Paradise is craved and Paradise is distorted, as cows and birds, Christ and the Magi, the still waters and the bodies of the dead, they all gaze at the human drama, whether mundane or exquisite. In the center are Elisabeth and Rita, sleepwalking in the swampy reality of Greece in the aftermath of the crisis, deprived of their potential, hurt, tricked and entrapped. Just like the eels, when they suddenly follow a mystic call and set off for their dangerous journey, they awake. The violent grace of their fight to reclaim their sense of self, to attack and to break free is the heart of this film.

Syllas Tzoumerkas

  • INTERVIEW WITH SYLLAS TZOUMERKAS BY MARTA BAŁAGA

Q: Why did you decide to focus on two women in your film: Elisabeth and Rita?

Syllas Tzoumerkas: THE MIRACLE OF THE SARGASSO SEA talks about what it means to be held back by your potential and get trapped in a swampy reality. And what you have to do to overcome it. To what extent you have to stretch yourself, your dreams, your ability to attack, your own body. This can be true for both women or men. In the film's case, two scarred women, Elisabeth and Rita: a single-mom policewoman and a poor, lonesome hatchery worker. In the first part of the film, we see how their life, their own indecisions and defeats, together with the deeply rooted patriarchy, have crushed them. In the second part, their own dreams and the unfolding of a series of violent events bring them together. They are not friends, they are not at all alike, but a certain undercurrent in their hearts makes their connection possible.

Q: You shot part of the film in Athens, but the biggest part of the shooting was on the west coast of Greece. However, instead of focusing on its beauty, you are showing people that hate to be stuck in this place.

Syllas Tzoumerkas: The film's landscapes reflect the souls of the characters: there is this combination of beauty and ugliness. These people are neither good or bad - they are full of contradictions. The same goes for the landscape as well, and for the way I decided to film it. I grew up on a very small island, surrounded by both the immense beauty and the harshness of nature, so these contradictions are very deeply rooted in me. And I know how humans are in these places: sometimes they are immersed in it, sometimes they simply look like pollution against the landscape. Both of these views are very prominent in the film. The other thing that was important for me as a director was that after two rather urban films, set mainly in cities, I really wanted to do something else this time. Maybe it has to do with my upbringing: I needed swamps, dirt and mud for a change. Also, on a bigger scheme, in Homeland, I showed Greece as hell, in A Blast, everything was purgatorial, and now, in this film, all characters deal with the concept of paradise. Nature, consequently, had to be more present. The nature surrounding the characters is often truly paradisiacal, so the characters either endure it as an unbelievable contradiction, or remember it as a Paradise Lost, or attempt to live up to it.

Q: When we first meet Elisabeth, instead of transforming she is just punishing herself. Why there is so much self-hatred in this character?

Syllas Tzoumerkas: When you are defeated, you punish yourself. We all go through defeat in our lives and then, we are not OK with ourselves, and neither is Elisabeth - an otherwise fierce and free-spirited woman. The film shows the tragedy of a person who lost and now has to endure the consequences for many years until she finds a way that will allow her to reclaim her self-respect. These two women, Elisabeth and Rita, they go through a lot, before reaching the point where their urge of reclaiming their lives becomes an unstoppable force.

Q: The beginning of the film feels like a straight-on thriller, but then it completely changes around.

Syllas Tzoumerkas: Yes, I really wanted the prologue to look like a typical urban police flick, in pronounced contrast to what awaits Elisabeth and the audience afterward. I wanted it to have this energy to show where Elisabeth comes from, who she used to be before they throw her into that swamp. It also introduces some of her main characteristics within the Greek political context, her ability to see grey areas in questions of right and wrong, her professional capacity to decide about other people's lives, and her disdain for patriarchal figures. I feel very much for her afterward, when we see her just left there, trapped in that shitty little town, day after day passing with just the faintest memory of an active life. But eventually, she will try to reclaim it all.

Q: The film is punctuated by strange sequences showing the characters' dreams, full of biblical references. What was the reason for that?

Syllas Tzoumerkas: The film constructs a dream space, shared between these two women. Their visions, their dreams, their prayers and their existential turmoil all start to come together, because they both share this immense desire to save themselves, to get the hell out of there. Rita is a churchgoer, so her visions are religious, and Elisabeth on the other hand, in the most unlikely way, often has Christ-like characteristics. All these notions keep transforming in their subconscious and consequently in the dream space of the film - just like in real life. Personally, these are my favorite parts of the film - also because I really love the ''Christ-film'' sub-genre and wanted to be part of it.

Q: THE MIRACLE OF THE SARGASSO SEA has a novelistic texture and pace. All the characters are given time to play out.

Syllas Tzoumerkas: The film is constructed not just as a drama about these two women, or just a thriller. It connects more with the approach of Robert Altman when it comes to the community drama, or to Nicolas Roeg when it comes to its thriller aspects. In both these approaches, if you care about something, you show it. You give it the space it needs, and as a result, you get real people and real consequences for their actions, and, most important of all, all-grey areas of morality that don't feel artificially manufactured. So, in SARGASSO, indeed, different characters claim their own space and bring their own richness to the story. To put it simply, this paradise is the kind of paradise that has many different flowers in it.

Q: Many writers and artists were already drawn to the Sargasso Sea. They saw it as dangerous and mythical.

Syllas Tzoumerkas: I came to that sea through the eels. From the very beginning, when we first started writing with Youla Boudali [director's regular co-writer, here also playing Rita], the eels were the core parable that we were working on - this idea that in order to fulfill your life, you have to go through tremendous transformations and difficulties in order to find yourself. The Sargasso Sea, the Bermuda Triangle itself, is the sea that ''calls'' the eels from all around the world so that they embark on this crazy, perilous journey. They go there, reproduce and they die. This is the miracle of the Sargasso Sea - it's this sudden, visceral, violently luminous, uninhibited urge that makes us want to transform the settings of our life.

Q: SARGASSO SEA continues the engagement with contemporary Greece of your previous films. Do you see your work as an ongoing chronicle of life in Greece over the past decade?

Syllas Tzoumerkas: Indeed, in a way, I see these three films as a sort of an ongoing chronicle. Homeland, a film before the crisis, uncovered and brought center-stage the secrets, social and family interconnections and generational clashes that were bound to lead to the country's bankruptcy. A Blast talked about the experience of Greece's lost generation: the one that got violently disillusioned about the extent of the wreckage - a wreckage that was not only economic or social, but something that went down to the core, something deeply personal, existential. SARGASSO talks about the reality of life in the swamp, in the ruins, and the violent grace of the awakening from it, of finding what makes you attack, reclaim and break free.

The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea Movie Details 🎥


Directed by

Syllas Tzoumerkas

Writing Credits

Syllas Tzoumerkas

Youla Boudali

Starring

Angeliki Papoulia

Youla Boudali

Hristos Passalis

Argyris Xafis

Thanasis Dovris

Laertis Malkotsis

Maria Filini

Michalis Kimonas

Christian Culbida

Laertis Vasiliou

Thanos Tokakis

Alkistis Poulopoulou

Katerina Helmy

Music by

Drogatek

Jean-Paul Wall

Phoebus

Cinematography by

Petrus Sjövik

Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Countries: Greece, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden

The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea Official Trailer



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