Maria Iliou's excellent documentary, Smyrna: The Destruction of a Cosmopolitan City, 1900-1922, was but the first of a two- (and maybe even more) part series that now continues with FROM BOTH SIDES OF THE AEGEAN: Expulsion and Exchange of Populations, Turkey and Greece, 1922-1924. No one would ever accuse Ms. Iliou of creating marquee-friendly movie titles, but she certainly does give us interesting films about a part of the world with which most of us will have had little familiarity.
Alexander Kitroeff (above, right), take off pretty much from where the first film ended. We do see some of that history of the great cosmopolitan city of Smyrna and what happened to it and get a quick course in the part played by WWI and the "Great Powers" in this whole sad business. This takes up perhaps 20 minutes of the new film, and then we're pushed ahead to see and learn what happened after the destruction and how and why well over a million refugees (1,100,000 Greeks alone!) were herded unnecessarily from what was now -- after the end of the Ottoman Empire -- suddenly part of Turkey or Greece. (Unless I missed it, I don't think figures were given for how many Muslims were sent packing back to the "new" Turkey.)
These tales make you realize anew that refugees and their stories are so very similar in so many ways. This is a terrible way to live, and it doesn't matter who is on the giving or receiving end.
The new documentary -- from Proteas and Proteus NY Inc. and running 87 minutes -- opens this coming Friday, March 21, for a two-week run at New York City's Quad Cinema. Elsewhere? Not sure. But you can click here to keep up to date with other scheduled screenings.