ANDREAS BOUSIOSIn a world of tensions, challenges and conflicts, there are people who swim against the tide, who dare speak the truth, build bridges and, ultimately, create a peaceful world. Chrysovalantis Stamelos is one of these people.
The financial crisis gave him the opportunity to find and create his own destiny. In 2008, while living in the U.S., he lost his job. However, rather than giving up, he said, “To hell with the circumstances! I’ll make my own!”
Thus begins the cinematic journey of Chrysovalantis Stamelos to Turkey, which is also the journey of his life.
He leaves New York and moves to Smyrna. And from a producer for MTV Networks and Nickelodeon, he starts his own project, “Hello Anatolia.”
“Anatolia is the historical birthplace of my ancestors,” he says. “After working in the corporate world for years, I decided it was time to satisfy my desire to search for my roots. So, I picked up and moved to the homeland of my great-grandparents: Turkey. My family and friends thought I was crazy. Maybe I am. But I couldn’t shake off the stories I heard growing up... of old Smyrna and Asia Minor. Now, I’m starting a family, finding the remnants of my ancestors and immersing myself in the culture, while strengthening the connection to my heritage... and most importantly, building a bridge.”
Chrysovalantis describes the film as “the journey of going back to the land of my great-grandparents, trying to discover their past through language, architecture, faith and culture.”
In his effort to discover his own roots, he builds bridges between the two cultures; two nations that have a lot in common and, odd as it may seem, the things connecting these two nations are more than those keeping them apart. Through this film project, Chrysovalantis doesn’t just illustrate his own point of view, but he also shares the experiences of Greek and Turkish artists, as well as of everyday people.
Chrysovalantis overcomes fears and prejudices and, by using love as a weapon, he builds his own tomorrow.
But it’s not just his own life that he has changed by choosing this path. He also changes the lives of others...our lives. Through this film, which will soon begin to be screened in international festivals, Chrysovalantis wishes to share and build bridges with people from all walks of life, mentioning that “I’m very fortunate to have had a pretty diverse and multicultural upbringing that taught me to be inclusive of everyone’s differences. In fact, diversity of culture, thought and expression is sacred. Human expression and existence is sacred. The message of this film is not just between Greece and Turkey, but a human message that all sides can relate to: finding home.”
How can two nations, after years of conflict, find a common home? How can such a home be built?
All this can be found through honest dialogue, mutual respect and hard work. There are many obstacles to overcome. But, in order to achieve this, both sides must acknowledge that, in the end, the other approach has a positive effect. In projects such as “Hello Anatolia,” one can discover this positive effect because such a project conveys the voice of ordinary people. It is the true voice of ordinary people who prefer living in the future than living in the past. It is the true voice of ordinary people who are not motivated by self-interest and take the chance to prosper in times of peace rather than in times of war.
*Andreas Bousios is a Greek freelance journalist.