In a vast and desolate coast, around the mid-19th century, a group of Grand Tour voyagers are seeking Arcadia and the ancient ruins, the symbols of an emerging Greek and European identity. More than one century later, the dead body of an unidentified man lies on the same coast. Motionless, almost paralyzed, an anonymous crowd stands numb and stares…
Year of production 2019 Length 25min Country Greece Shooting Format 4K, ARRI Alexa Mini Aspect Ratio 4:3 Dialogue Greek, French Director Dimitris Anagnostou Producer Antigoni Rota, Yorgos Zois, Christina Cironi, Antonis Triantafyllou Production Greek Film Center, Squared Square, Mild, Tarro, Arctos Writer Dimitris Anagnostou Production Manager Alexis Anastasiadis Cinematographer Yiannis Karabatsos Editor Yiannis Chalkiadakis Sound Designer and Mixage Alexandros Sidiropoulos, Aris Louziotis Sound Recorder Christos Sakellariou Costume Designer Christina Lardikou Set Designer Dimitris Ziakas Music Stavros Markonis CastThanassis Dovris, Drosos Skotis, Stathis Apostolou, Aris Balis, Katerina Giannouli, Vassilis Samourkas, Serafeim Radis, David Brown, Penelope Darsaklis, Alex Vangelis. French Voice Over Michel Demopoulos
Festival selections World Premiere
Director's Statement Mare Nostrum has as a starting point a real event: the finding of a dead human body hanged on a small Athenian square. The description of that fact on the newspapers conveyed on the following phrase: "the identity of the dead remains unknown". At that time, I was on the way to leave Athens and settle in Paris. Without knowing why, I kept this newscast as an image of the country that I was leaving behind. Shortly after, the crisis (economic and immigration) occurred and brought with it thousands of similar cases: people who tumbled under the weight of the economic decline and people who have been lost in Mediterranean Sea looking elsewhere for another future. Both, they have been forgot anonymous among anonymous. Inside this socio-political context, the urgency to make this film was born. An urgency that suggests that this identityless body is nothing more than the image in the mirror of a country in an "identity crisis" with the psychosocial dimension of the term: a crisis of determination, apathy, inability to move and mobilize on issues that urge a solution. However, there is also a sort of hesitation that was born with it: how to talk about something so current and so painful without follow the logic of the spectacular that invests in the "charm of destruction"? Mare Nostrum is a figure of that gap, of that open space between urgency and hesitation that we call “identity crisis”. On other terms, Mare Nostrum has the intention to be the image on the mirror of the context that was born and carry in its form this kind of crisis. Relative to the point of departure; a body found dead, a body to be identified; a classical structure would orchestrate a story of investigation, playing suspense, and possible revelations. However, I tried not to go into this logic. Specifically, I pretended to follow her to better distract her. Thus, the plot advances, but nothing seems to happen. The characters are unable to react, to find solutions. They remain helpless: the corpse petrifies them because it is only a reflection of themselves. Thus, in this story, the sequences follow one another, not so much to advance the plot and the investigation but to build a psychological "landscape" and try to create a sensation. I tried to work each sequence as a fragmented entirety that questions our eyes and I wanted to put the viewer at the center of this device: facing a drama where any anchor element with the characters - any element of identification with them - seems to slide out of frame. It is with respect to this axis that I chose to "frame" the central plot with another story: that of the Travelers of the Grand Tour. Like the contemporary protagonists of this story, they seem lost. However, unlike them, their quest is dynamic. Because the Travelers carry within them the fantasy of an ancestral gaze: an heteronomous, neoclassical, romantic-influenced gaze. Travelers seek the Arcadic Sublime and the revelation of the ancient world. It is their gaze and their recite that Greece has borrowed for centuries to create its own image and reproduce its own "identity". On several occasions, the country returns to this "Grand Recit" when his "identity" seems in crisis. And even today, that this story seems to start empting in front of us we keep framing our gaze in this borrowed frame.